Tag Archives: diabetes

Whodathunk I would be too low carb?!

I clearly don’t know everything there is to know about diabetes.  I’m not sure, given that I physically can’t experience all types of the disease, that I ever will.

For World Diabetes Day, I had my A1c checked.  I learned a couple of valuable things from this.

  1. Checking your A1c at a pharmacy in between your normal three month test time, is the eqivalent of checking your weight multiple times in a week.  Okay, it’s not identical, but I was trying to think of an analogy that would work and this is the best I could come up with.
  2. A 6.5 A1c for some would be amazing!  It’s not for me (in Canada, the Canadian Diabetes Association has determined that 6.5 is the measurement of what makes you a diabetic.  It’s the number that I had and was, therefore, diagnosed at such.  It’s a number I truly resent.) and in fact, is a little (a lot) higher than my last A1c test.  Again, I shouldn’t grumble too loudly.  I know that there are others out there that would love to have that reading, so I’m trying to count my blessings that it’s actually not higher than that.
  3. Professionals don’t know everything.  It was a little awkward for me to educate the educator, that 6.5 is the lucky number for diagnosis in Canada.  Why am I telling someone who should already know this?

I had woken up yesterday feeling horribly under the weather.  By the afternoon, I thought it was the combination of not feeling 100% and my A1c test that had me feeling worse.

There’s hitting the wall and then there was what I was feeling:  any energy I still had was to keep running into the wall.

A dietician’s appointment this morning put things a little into perspective.  I eat too low carb.

Which brings me back to the point – I don’t know everything there is to know about my version of diabetes (or any at this juncture).

I think that this may be one of the hardest points of diabetes management for me to make sense of.  Food and I haven’t always had a healthy relationship and it appears we still don’t.  I’ve gone from being terrified of fat (please think of that as me referring to healthy fats) to terrified of fats and carbs.  And the reality is, now that I’m getting more active, I need that fuel to keep the tank running instead of running on fumes.

What I really need to do is get a handle on what makes a healthy carb, how to use carbs to my advantage, and still continue on with living a healthier lifestyle which includes an active lifestyle, exercise and weight loss.

So if you’ve read this far and have some quality resources, be they on the internet or books etc., I would be most interested to hear from you.  In particular, I’d be interested to hear from people who can remember just starting out with activity/training programs that include weight training, cardio, and in particular, training for a first 5k (no wogging this time!).


I am not a number.

I’ve been trying to write something for days now.  I have lots on my mind, so there’s no shortage of ideas, but trying to articulate them is another story all together.

For those of you with diabetes, regardless of type, I am not about to say anything new or revolutionary.  For those of you who don’t, some of these statistics may shock you.  If they don’t, they should.

An estimated 285 million people worldwide are affected by diabetes. With a further 7 million people developing diabetes each year, this number is expected to hit 438 million by 2030.

Today, more than 9 million Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes.

Approximately 10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. The number of people with type 2 diabetes is increasing dramatically due to a number of factors:

  • The population is aging.
  • Obesity rates are rising.
  • Canadian lifestyles are increasingly sedentary.
  • Aboriginal people are three to five times more likely than the general population to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • Almost 80% of new Canadians come from populations that are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. These include people of Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian or African descent.

The personal costs of diabetes may include a reduced quality of life and the increased likelihood of complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, amputation and erectile dysfunction.

  • Approximately 80% of people with diabetes will die as a result of heart disease or stroke.
  • Diabetes is a contributing factor in the deaths of approximately 41,500 Canadians each year.
  • Canadian adults with diabetes are twice as likely to die prematurely, compared to people without diabetes.
  • Life expectancy for people with type 1 diabetes may be shortened by as much as 15 years. Life expectancy for people with type 2 diabetes may be shortened by 5 to 10 years.

The financial burden of diabetes and its complications is enormous.

  • People with diabetes incur medical costs that are two to three times higher than those without diabetes. A person with diabetes can face direct costs for medication and supplies ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 a year.
  • By 2020, it’s estimated that diabetes will cost the Canadian healthcare system $16.9 billion a year.¹

When I was diagnosed, a whole seven weeks ago, this was the information I was reading.  It comes as no surprise to me that 25% of all diabetics are also dealing with depression.  These numbers go well beyond the, “No more pedicures!” and “Eat less, move more!” information that was supplied to me by the medical professionals.  Reading all of this made me depressed.  It also made me angry.

I read on a blog, the other day, that an individual who had been diagnosed had gone through this horrible period of adjustment that his medical team had equated to mourning a loss.  That’s exactly what I had been thinking and, I must confess, that it was nice to see validation from someone else.

For the newly diagnosed, there has to be time allowed to mourn the loss of the spontaneity in life, especially when it comes to food and drink.  There also needs to be a degree of understanding, or compassion, that we’re not all mourning that we’ll never be able to eat poutine again, or that we’ll have to give up whatever sinful food you want to come up with.  For me, and I’ve mentioned this before, it’s hard to grasp that, seemingly healthy foods are messing with my blood sugar.  Bananas and pineapple should not be seen as evil, and yet, I know I shouldn’t really be partaking in them.

But more importantly, at least in my humble opinion, the medical profession needs to look at each new case of diabetes and treat them equally and not making the assumption that dropping a diagnosis on someone and providing the sage medical advice of “Diet and exercise” will suffice.

I am eternally grateful, at least right now, that my diabetes isn’t being controlled with oral medications and / or insulin.  I do take low dosage meds for high blood pressure and cholesterol, but they are low dosage.  Would this not be an excellent time, as a medical professional, to talk to me and see what I’m feeling about all of this and how I can become one less statistic?

I have no intention of adding myself to the litany of statistics posted by the Canadian Diabetes Association.

I do have every intention of utilizing all the resources that are supposed to be made available to me – ophthalmologist, dietician, CDE, anyone else who wishes to participate in my health – so that I am not the burden to society that diabetics are made to feel.  So that I am not the poster child of the middle aged, obese diabetic.  Nor will I be the depressed diabetic in need of meds just to get happy.

I can’t do this alone.  I do need help, and resources, and I’m not afraid to admit that, but I am not prepared to be set adrift to figure this out on my own and hope for the best.

I want to write a piece that gives hope to newly diagnosed diabetics.  I want to be a person that can show someone else that it’s not all doom and gloom and that there are really good people out there that are trained to help diabetics adapt to a new lifestyle.

I want to be the sort of person that I came across on other blogs, the diabetics, regardless of type, who told me that it is a difficult adjustment but that it does get easier.  That shared what knowledge they had and have been so patient in listening to me rant.

So now to plan for the next steps.  Buckle up kids, this could get messy!

 

Character - by Helen Keller

¹ Canadian Diabetes Association – The prevalence and cost of diabetes.

 

 


The ersatz diabetic

For the most part, I don’t feel diabetic.

I don’t think I have manic states between super low or super high sugar swings.  I don’t feel overly thirsty and the urge to go potty, but then again, I drink something like two to three litres of water every day, of course I need to pee.

But the lethargy? That kicks me in the arse, knocks me down, runs me over, picks me up, chews me up and spits me out.

Could this amazing need to go for a nap be simply because I didn’t do as much walking over the weekend?  I wasn’t a super star when it came to food choices, but I didn’t eat rubbish all weekend either.

The fact that I’ve been absolutely in a state of chronic fatigue all day is killing me.

Despite having gotten up earlier than normal (read: I got up when the alarm went off), I puttered about my apartment and couldn’t get my, er, “stuff” together to get out of the house to walk to work.  Worse, I couldn’t get my stuff together quick enough to even take the bus.  Nope, I wanted the chauffeur driven experience and cabbed it in today.

Weird thing is, my last reading after breakfast was at 5.7.  My understanding (which is to say I have basically no understanding of this stupid disease) is that a reading like that isn’t bad.  In fact it’s somewhat “normal”.  Top it off, it’s less than my post breakfast reading on Friday in which I ate the very same thing!

Hopefully once I’ve met with the dietician, things will start showing a more marked improvement.  As it stands, I’ve lost 10.1 pounds since July 1st, but tragically have maintained this past week.  Better than a gain though.

Canada really needs to adopt the siesta. *yawn*


For Annie.

This is not a blog about diabetes.  Or at least, the whole of it is not.  It has to be said though that, as someone newly diagnosed, it’s something I’m bound to beat to death.  But really, the goal (“goal” makes it sound so lofty) of this blog is to just be a general commentary on life.

But this post?  This post is about anger and my friend Annie.

I made the “mistake” of going for my physical on June 28th, 2013.  I had to get the complete physical done because, well, I needed my birth control refilled.  No doctor is going to refill without an exam.  And I’ve been kicking myself ever since.

See, I don’t do birth control to prevent me from having babies.  I do it because, otherwise, I’d feel like I was dying on a monthly basis. Getting my plumbing removed seems like an awful extreme step, so I opt for an injection in the butt and I’m gold for three months.

But back to the physical.

I fasted.  I scrubbed behind my ears. I made sure my breath was fresh. I prepared for the obligatory “step on the scale” and the myriad of emotions that inevitably follow after the number is read and recorded. At no time did I prepare myself for a diagnosis of diabetes.

The results of the blood work came back lightning fast.  By July 2nd, the temp. doctor (my “real” doctor is on mat. leave) had labelled me diabetic. Not a cushy “pre-diabetic”. A full on diabetic.  I was angry. I refused to believe her. My fasting blood glucose levels were at 4.4, how could I possibly be diabetic? Diabetes does not run in my family and I am sure I do not wish to be the first person diagnosed with it. Yet after demanding the two hour glucose test, drinking that nasty drink, I am, apparently, diabetic.

Being handed down a life sentence, strange things have happened:

  • I’m angry.
  • I don’t eat a whole lot.
  • My sleep, which hasn’t been great in forever, is getting worse again. Dreams of being diabetic, or discussing diabetes or anything to do with diabetes, have been dominating my sleep. Or have prevented me from sleeping at all.
  • Shame is not something I was expecting to feel, and yet I am amazed how much shame I feel because of this diagnosis.
  • My depression, which had been all but gone for the past year, is rearing its ugly head again.
  • The self-loathing is incredible.
  • I cry and am hyper-emotional.
  • Did I mention I’m angry?

Now I should mention that, in the world of diabetes, I suppose  I am one of the “lucky” ones (there is nothing lucky for anyone labelled with the diabetes tag). I am not being put on any sort of medication at the moment. I was told that “a glucose meter isn’t really necessary for medical purposes.” although I fail to understand the rational behind that statement from the Johnny-Come-Lately doctor that diagnosed me.

In fact, first the fear of God was put into me (saying nothing and leaving me to my own devices to figure this out on my own is crazy, in my opinion) and then I’m told “it’s not that bad!”  Have I missed something about diabetes being a good thing?

According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, I can no longer get pedicures, go barefoot – anywhere, cannot wear sandals or open toe shoes, cannot wear shoes over 5 cm in height and this is just talking about feet.

There’s a whole lot of you can’t do this anymore! but so precious little about what I can do. It should come as no surprise to anyone that 25% of diabetics develop depression. You’re not giving us much hope about there being any pleasures to living.

Now let me just say that this is very much early days for me.  I haven’t lived with diabetes. If friends have it, they keep it to themselves. No family members have it. I don’t know a whole lot about it other than it zaps the life out of spontaneity and my fingers hurt all the time now. Oh. And I refuse to wear diabetic socks.

But back to the anger for a moment.

I need to vent my spleen to the universe (or, you know, just here) about how angry this makes me. I’m angry that I wasn’t told what I’m supposed to do with my used lancets and test strips (apparently throwing out bio-hazardous materials in the regular rubbish is frowned upon). I’m angry that I’m absolutely paranoid to eat or drink. I’m angry because my fingers hurt from testing multiple times a day. I’m mostly angry because I’m so angry.

Which brings me to Annie.

I adore Annie.

I met Annie many moons ago, and back then, well if I’m being honest, until very recently, she scared the hell out of me.  Annie’s no nonsense and I like that about her, but I’m chock o’ block full of nonsense, so many times I feel like I’m this goofball fool that she has to suffer gladly (or not). Annie is fiercely strong, independent, smart as a whip, funny, gorgeous and humble.  She’s a total package.

I said to Annie, sometime earlier this year, that she always comes across as having her shit together, whereas I am my own shitstorm. She assures me that she isn’t this level of perfection that I’ve made her seem, but I don’t know. I tend to beg to differ.

Annie runs. I don’t mean for the phone, or a bus, but actually runs.  You know, those crazy distances that us mere mortals think it’s insane to run, Annie does those and I am so wickedly proud of her.

So when Annie took the time to check up on me (I’ve cut myself off from all sorts of social situations be they in person or virtually), I managed to respond with a scathing email that held back no vitriol.

To put it succinctly, she didn’t deserve that.

I’ve realised since then, that I cannot respond to emails from friends because I’m not dealing well with this at all. I am too emotional, too raw at the moment, to be able to respond to emails or texts without wanting to just let the torrent of anger spew in all directions.

I know I need help in figuring all of this out and pushing away people I love and respect isn’t very clever but I don’t know how to handle this.

I’m trying though.  Truly. Apparently, the trick is to keep breathing.


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