My life changed in October of 2003 when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, though how much my life had changed didn't really dawn on me for almost another two years. At first, I was unworried about the diagnosis. With a fasting blood glucose (FBG) level of 131 and an A1C of 7.1, I was convinced that I was "barely over the line" when it came to being diabetic. This was based on the information that in years past, a person was not considered diabetic until FBG reached something like 200. My conclusion was that the doctor had made a hasty diagnosis, and that I was really pre-diabetic. If I watched what I ate, and got a little exercise, all would be well.
I felt vindicated in my attitude three months later when I returned to the doctor's office. My FBG was 85 and A1C had dropped to 6.0. I had lost about ten pounds as well. My doctor was so pleased with my progress, that he encouraged me to keep up the good work, and to come back in six months (instead of the usual three-month schedule which he keeps with most of his diabetic patients).
Six months later I was back. This time FBG was 95 and A1C still around 6, so I was told he didn't have to see me for another six months. I had, however, gained back some of the weight I had lost. I had also let my diet slip a bit, and had stopped exercising as often. At the same time I was under a lot of stress because my mother was dying of cancer. If I had known then what I know now, I would have gotten a glucose meter and started testing. My good checkups had made me complacent about the seriousness of the disease.
After another six months I returned. My mother had passed away two months prior, and I was back up to around 300 pounds. I exercised very little. My diet wasn't completely
shot. I still watched what I ate, but was sneaking more high-carb foods like donuts and french fries, which I had previously avoided. My FBG was 110 and A1C was 6.5. The doctor frowned at my weight gain, but told me I didn't have to come back for another six months.
All things considered, I thought I was doing very well, but nothing could have been further from the truth. In about three months I began to have several seemingly unrelated health problems, the most troubling of which was frequent urination.
In August of 2005 I saw the doctor at my six-month checkup, and things were clearly out of control. My FBG was 154 and my A1C was 8.5. Any doubts I might have had about my diabetes were squashed: I was diabetic.
The jump in the numbers got my doctor's attention too. He prescribed metformin; 500mg twice a day after lunch and supper. He also warned that I was in serious need of exercise, and recommended that I work out about 150 minutes per week.
Progress was slow at first. It took a few weeks for the metformin to start to do its thing. Finding an exercise regimen that I liked was also difficult. I began to cut back on carbohydrates, particularly bread, potatoes, and sweets.
After about a month I began to notice a significant lessening of my appetite. It appeared that the metformin was starting to work. I also began to lose weight. I purchased a nearly-new treadmill from a friend who wanted to give it up, and started using it religiously.
Another big step I took was purchasing a glucose meter. Even though the doc had not told me to test my blood sugar, I was curious to know how I was doing. I began testing pretty frequently, trying to get an idea about what would raise my glucose, and to see how well the metformin was working.
My physician had put me back on a three-month checkup schedule. I returned in early November, 2005 to find significant improvement. FBG was 140 and A1C was 7.5. I had also lost 18 pounds. I was sent off with the encouragement to keep doing what I was doing. Most of the other health problems I was having cleared up. I felt better than I had in more than ten years.
This blog is my record of my progress with this disease. I am learning many things about my body chemistry, about nutrition, about exercise, and about this terrible affliction. One of the things I am beginning to grasp is that this disease is very individualistic. It is hard to find the right combination of controls, because what works for one person may not work for another. I think it is important for each individual diabetic to sift through the screeds of information, suggestions, and opinions to find those tidbits which are helpful. This is not easy. The process requires work and patience. I am working on my own answers and this journal is a tool to help me figure out what works for me. I am allowing others to read it and comment on it because some of the things I do or say may be of benefit to other diabetics. I know that reading about what others have tried has certainly helped me.
To many fellow diabetics, the name of my blog will make perfect sense. I frequently experience what is commonly called "dawn phenomenon". Dawn phenomenon occurs when one's fasting blood glucose reading is higher upon waking, than the previous night at bedtime. The difference for me is often 25 to 30 points. Last night, for example, at bedtime my BG was 114 (best reading I've had so far, by the way). This morning it was 140. There are a few theories about what causes such swings, but nobody seems to have a definite handle on it. Furthermore, while some physicians take it seriously enough to prescribe insulin for their patients, others, like my doctor, just shrug their shoulders at it, preferring to only monitor the A1C average. My case is more frustrating because of its inconsistency: some mornings I have it, and some mornings I do not. So far, I have not found any kind of pattern to account for it, and therefore am at a loss to counteract it.
In closing this first post, I want to touch on a topic which I think is most important. There is a lot of talk (particularly at the ADA) about "diabetes management". I would like to make it clear that I am not interested in diabetes management
. I am interested in diabetes control
. A mere difference in semantics, you say? Not to me. In my mind, the word "management" denotes reacting to situations which are out of one's influence. "Control", on the other hand, has a more confident connotation. It is proactive. The only way to deal effectively with this disease is to hit it head on.
Finally, it is important to have hope. That is why I will be including news about treatment and research breakthroughs on this blog. When I was diagnosed in 2003, I began researching this disease. I am convinced that within eight to ten years there will be a cure for type 1 diabetes. A cure for type 2 will soon follow. Even closer to us are advances in treatment such as non-invasive insulin delivery, non-invasive glucose monitoring, more effective medications to treat insulin resistance, and more studies on the effects of nutrients and supplements on blood glucose. About 170 million people worldwide have diabetes. If all those people were in the same country, it would be the world's eighth largest nation. The market potential alone is enough to spur tremendous amounts of research into treatments and cures. And that is good news for diabetics. Have hope, fellow sufferers, some day this scourge will end.