Sunday, April 6, 2008

Just One Of Those Interruptions

" I refuse to let this rule my life!" Those were the words that went through my mind over and over again as I drove home from a doctor's appointment in 1994. It was at this appointment when I learned for the first time that I am a diabetic. I was so determined that if I have to have this disease, so be it, but it would not rule my life. It wasn't as if I hadn't been warned in advance that there was a chance that this would happen. It was 24 years prior to being diagnosed as a diabetic that I was pregnant with Tersie and the doctor had then told me then that I had Gestational Diabetes. This bit of information explained why my babies were 9 pounds plus when they were born and why I didn't gain any weight while I carried them. He told me that I should have this checked from time to time because usually women that have high blood sugar readings during pregnancy will become type 2 diabetics years down the road. Even with knowing the possibility was there. Even knowing my odds of becoming a diabetic was greater because my grandmother had this disease. Even with knowing all of these things, it still felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me when I was told that it had finally caught up with me.

I had made the appointment with the doctor in 1994 because I was having my yearly Spring bout with pollen allergies and Bronchitis. I complained to him about how just before getting sick I had felt so tired all of a sudden. I told him about how it seemed to take all of the effort I could manage to just put one foot in front of the other and move and so forth. It was a easy call for my doctor, being a diabetic himself, to order some blood work because he suspected Diabetes.

I haven't allowed Diabetes to rule my life. I have had to learn to live with it though. If you are blind you learn how to read braille and walk with a seeing eye dog. When you are hearing impaired, you learn to read lips and use sign language. When you are diabetic, you learn what you need to do to live with diabetes.

It has been 14 years since I was diagnosed. I am still learning things that I didn't know. At first I was only taking the pills to control my sugar levels. Mistakenly, I cut out almost everything that contained sugar. I learned that lesson while standing in the check out line at K-Mart. All of a sudden I broke out in a cold sweat, with a trembling shaky feeling, and dizziness. Fortunately, I had read enough to know that what was happening to me was my blood sugars were bottoming out on me. A candy bar off the impulse rack took care of that one. That was when I learned that it is alright to eat a moderate amount of sweets as long as I am taking the pills for my diabetes to prevent my blood sugars from dropping too much.

The first 6 years of this journey was the toughest for me. I felt so alone in this battle. I had my doctor that I could talk to and the books in the library, but that was about it. That was quite a while before I knew anything about the Internet and the world of support and information that it would contain. I think I was taking at one time or another just about every pill they have available for diabetes. For those 6 years I found that some of the pills that might help with the blood sugar levels, also caused weight gain. I took pills that caused me to have stomach issues of all sorts. I took pills that caused me to retain fluid until I was puffed out like a toad. My blood sugar readings were all over the charts. Seldom were they where they were supposed to be, they were either way too high or dangerously low. I would find myself having bouts of depression. I was tired of taking so many pills and never feeling good.

As fate would have it, my doctor was leaving the area and I started seeing another doctor in the same practice. We discussed how my blood sugar readings were so all over the place and he suggested that I start injections of insulin. He put me on Lantus, which is a time delayed insulin that works over a 24 hour period. With lessons from his nurse on how to give myself injections, I was starting down a new path with this disease. You know the one, the same disease that I swore would not rule my life. I was hesitant about giving myself these shots, but gritted my teeth and stuck that needle in my leg. After a while giving myself the injections has become second nature for me. In no time at all, I started feeling pretty close to the person I used to be. It was wonderful! When I told my doctor how much better I was feeling, I asked him why I wasn't put on insulin six years ago when I was first diagnosed. I was told that many doctors try to put off introducing insulin as a treatment as long as they can because they feel it interferes with the patient being able to lead a normal life. My opinion of this is that insulin does not change my life style in the least............ Blood sugar levels that are out of control does interfere with my life. At that time I was taking my insulin at bed time and 1 pill in the morning.

As time passes, changes have to be made because eventually the body needs more help then what it is getting. Last year I started going to an Endocrinologist. I refer to my visits with her as Diabetes Boot camp and I call her my Drill Instructor. She believes in treating this disease aggressively and that is fine with me. She added Byetta injections do my treatment and sent me to the dietitian for instructions on injecting with the pen which contains the Byetta. I think Byetta is a giant step forward in treatment of diabetes. Not only does it help tremendously, but it doesn't cause weight gain like so many other medications do.

I mentioned before that I am still learning things 14 years after first being diagnosed. I learned two magic numbers while I was with the dietitian that had never been mentioned to me before. Those numbers are 15 and 45. These 2 numbers have the ability to help keep my blood sugar readings within an acceptable range. My nurse (Molly) told me that I will have better control if I try to limit my total carbs for breakfast, lunch and dinner to 45. Snacks between meals and in the evening after dinner should be limited to 15 total carbs. That in itself has been a tremendous help for me in trying to control my blood sugar levels. I will be the first to admit though that I do get lazy from time to time and don't check those carbs.......

When I first started living with diabetes, I mistakenly thought that all I had to do was stay away from the sweets and take my pills. It is so much more than that. One of my favorite vegetables is corn. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that there are enough carbs in a serving of corn to equal a cup good old white granulated sugar. (Place pouting face here). Some Doctors thought I should not eat three meals a day, but instead a bunch of smaller meals (5 to 6). I think most doctors have gotten away from that suggestion. Talk about interfering with a person's life style.
Just to sum things up, the Lantus and Byetta, the two magic numbers and testing on a regular basis has made it possible for me to live with my Diabetes instead of letting it rule my life. I hope that this information has been helpful.
Have a blessed day.......... ~Jo


Hope said...

Jo, thank you for posting this. It has been so helpful to me. I think everybody should know about diabetes and learning to live with it. If I had starting eating right years ago my body might not be in this condition today!

When I was having my children they didn't test for diabetes but I read somewhere that if you have a baby 9 or more pounds it is likely you have gestational diabetes. My son was 9 lbs. 11 1/2 oz. When I was carrying him I was having a lot of dizziness and weakness which I realize now was a sign.

It really pays to take matters into your own hands when it comes to your health and to educate yourself.

Thanks again for taking the time to do this.

Love and Hugs,

julia said...

i kinda LIKE the sound of just eating all day!!

Wow, sounds like you've done a lot of serious work on your diabetes--and to think that's only ONE of the things you have to work on.

Mary said...

Like you, I knew far ahead of time that I was susceptible to diabetes, but when I found out, it was a shock. I was hoping it would never happen to me.

I was diagnosed in 1992 and have been living with the disease ever since. I have been on many meds and some of them had horrible side effects. Today I take three different pills, including Avandia. It is the one that controls my blood sugar the best.

I am often under a lot of stress and suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I know that when my stress levels are the highest, my blood glucose levels are also. I have also had extremely low blood sugars that have caused me to have tremors, sweats and nausea.

Being tired is something that has been a part of my life for many years. I didn't know it could be associated with diabetes, so I learned something new today. Thanks for posting this information. It was interesting and informative.


The Old Man and His Dog said...

Jo, I came upon this post while searching on info on taking Byetta with Lantus and then I realized it was you!!! What a coincidence. This blog world keeps bringing us together. Anyway, are you still doing well with the Byetta and Lantus? I was thinking about suggesting this combination to my Endo on my next visit, but figured I'd get pushback from her since they haven't been approved yet as a combined therapy. I'm currently taking Janumet and Lantus, but am not happy with the numbers yet and heard that Byetta works better than the Januvia portion of my Janumet. What's your take?