My diabetes story has 3 distinct parts.
I was pre-diabetic.
I was full-blown T2 diabetic.
I reversed it.
Let’s start at the beginning.
I first heard the words pre-diabetic as early as 1996. I was 28. I remember thinking ‘pre’ meant I had time.
I really wish I could have understood what was coming…
The doctors didn’t seem concerned. Why should I worry about it? They said ‘This means you could get diabetes at some point. Eat better and lose some weight. We’ll keep an eye on things.”
Knowing what I know now… I wish they would have said ‘You have ONE LAST CHANCE to avoid a devastating disease. Listen up! This is in YOUR hands. You are running out of time to STOP this.”
As much as I would love to be able to blame anyone but myself, I can’t blame the doctors. I was NOT ready to listen.
I was playing ostrich.
If I buried my head in the sand, maybe this would just ALL GO AWAY…
Diabetes would mean I had to change what/when/how I ate. Food was an ISSUE for me. This was going to get messy and scary and NOT fun. Life was going to suck. So… I was only pre-diabetic. I could put off dealing with it. Right?! They had said ‘could’ get diabetes. Maybe I wouldn’t get it at all…
I was flirting with a deadly disease and my messed up relationship with food had me in a complete choke-hold. I was not paralyzed by the facts…
I was totally refusing to accept them.
In early 2000’s I saw my gynecologist. She was reviewing my lab reports and asked me what medicines I was taking for diabetes. I said none, ‘I’m only pre-diabetic’. She said:
You are full blown type 2 diabetic.
There’s no more of this ‘pre’ crap.
You are actually VERY sick.’
She made sure I had an appointment with a diabetes doc the very next day.
Being an ostrich had NOT worked.
At all. Not for even a moment.
I was not Type 1 (T1). T1 is an autoimmune disease. Beta cells in the pancreas do NOT work. Beta cells produce insulin. T1’s have to take insulin or die. Period.
I was Type 2 (T2). T2 is largely a lifestyle disease. I have a working pancreas. I produce insulin, but my body couldn’t use it very well; I was also called insulin resistant. There are genetic factors to consider, but most of us T2s have done it to ourselves. Inactivity, carrying too much weight (specifically belly fat) and not making good food choices.
How did they figure out I was diabetic? A blood test called the Hemoglobin A1c (HgbA1c) and a finger stick. The HgbA1c measures how well you manage your blood glucose over a 3-month period.The finger stick tests your fasting blood sugar and is essentially a real-time reading.
BOTH my fasting and my HgbA1c were high. Really high.
My HgbA1c should have been somewhere in the 4.8 – 7.0 range. It was 11.2. ‘Dangerous’.
My fasting numbers should have been between 80-120. It was 340. “Whoa. That can’t be right. We’ll check it again.” 342.
I had symptoms, serious symptoms that I was ignoring. Well, ignoring AND I thought it was just because I was fat. I didn’t realize the problems were tied to diabetes. Over the years I had adapted and accepted my reduced quality of life as just part of being obese.
So what were my symptoms?
Sores would not heal. A blister on my foot wouldn’t heal for over 6 months, so I was referred to a wound care specialist. He talked about cutting off my toes and portions of my foot as a means of treating the infection. THAT kind of not healing.
I could NOT sleep enough. I was BARELY getting through the day. Not just sleepy; groggy and foggy all the time. Would sleep for 10 – 12 hours a day. Fell asleep in meetings, while driving my car and on phone calls. I would sleep 15 – 18 hours a day on weekends.
I could not get enough to eat. I could eat until I was physically over-full, stuffed and yet still feel hungry. All at the same time. T2 makes it so that your body just can’t use ‘fuel’ efficiently. ‘It was like putting diesel in a gas engine.’ I could consume 5,000 calories a day and be hungry. Sugar. I wanted sugar.
Anyone watching from the outside knew something was going wrong for at least 3 years.
Again, I figured these symptoms were the price you paid for being obese.
I was not ready to fight. I did not want to make changes. As crappy as things were, it was something I had grown to understand and be comfortable with. Sad and implausible for some to believe, I’m sure. I was in bad physical shape and yet willing to stay there because the thought of what it would take to make things different was utterly overwhelming.
You accept and allow what you think you are worth.
Being diagnosed as a full blown T2 diabetic threw everything I knew and loved out the nearest window. Just as I feared it would.
I heard the diagnosis and spent about 4 months grieving. Deeply. I was put on meds for depression. I totally cut myself off from friends and the outside world. I threw an epic pity party.
Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. I was moving through the stages of grief in my own order. I had been in deep denial. I had bargained to no avail. I was depressed. Acceptance would take a while to find…
Then I finally started to get angry.
I was angry at myself. At the situation. At what I had allowed to happen.
I actually do some of my best work when I am angry. Always have. I get focused and productive and persistent. Anger was very much the companion I needed by my side for a while.
I knew I HAD to make changes. I had to start to face my food issues. I had to make a serious effort to try to gain control of this disease while I still had my toes…
So how did I learn to live with T2?
To be continued…