Is it worth it?
Today I was thinking about my journey with Diabetes.
The beginning, the middle and the under control!
In the beginning, 1993, I was tired all of the time. Sick at my stomach, dizzy (more than the usual! :D ) and going to potty way more than I should have been. I couldn't figure it out. Nothing had changed, my eating habits were the same (bad) and I wasn't gaining weight (so I thought) so what was going on? I had three children, two under the age of 3 years at the time and was working outside the home as well, so that is what I thought was the problem. Exhaustion.
Doctor visit, total shock. I sat in disbelief as my doctor explained that my Blood Glucose Level was "off the charts." This would explain all my "symptoms".
So began the merry go round of different pills, diets, constant recriminations and in my own mind total disgust.
I knew NOTHING about Type 2 Diabetes. I received NO EDUCATION from my doctor. Just a diagnosis. This was before the days of internet at our house. So, I was off to the library to read up on it. Lordy! Have you ever looked at the massive amount of information that is "available" to us about all the different diseases? Most is so general as to be really no information at all. "This disease can be controlled with diet and exercise." Not all together true. I left the library more , if possible, confused than ever.
The pills I was taking, Metformin and another that has since been removed from the market as it caused heart attacks and kidney failure, were helping some. I had also "tried" to eat better. Exercise, ummmm, no. Who had time??? I wasn't checking my levels, I wasn't told to, so I didn't. I was totally ignorant and totally trusting of my doctor. That was my mistake, just one of many past and to come.
The one thing I remember most that my doctor said was, "You absolutely do not want to have to go on insulin! If you do, you will never get better. It will eventually kill you." Well, yes, that was PARTLY true. The part about Diabetes, left unchecked will eventually kill you!
This rocked on for several years. My diabetes was steadily getting worse. My doctor would give me the occasional informational brochure about how to get it under control.
Now, I am NOT blaming my doctor for my having Type 2 Diabetes. I totally get that it isn't always avoidable, sometimes genetically we are prone to get it, but I DO hold that doctor accountable for not recommending me to an Endocrinologist! I didn't even know that they existed! I honestly think I was being used as a sort of Guinea Pig, as my doctor kept giving me different drugs that were "new". One was a type of inhaler that delivered "insulin" via the airway. You put a cylinder into a device and took three big breaths as you pushed the dispenser button. I didn't do well and after about a month my pharmacy company informed me that it was off the market due to severe compilations!
By this time our household had reached the point that we had internet access and I began to see that I could learn much more about Type 2 Diabetes there. But, even then, I found mostly urban legends and much misinformation about it. Then one day, I happened upon an article about the research going on concerning Type 2 Diabetes and the effects on the body, the mind and the families of those suffering with it. WOW! What an eye opener that was! It was informational, I could totally relate to every symptom, every after effect of the pills I was taking and the thoughts I was having!
The article recommended that every person with Type 2 Diabetes should be under the care of an Endocrinologist. So, I go to my doctor and ask to be referred to one. She did not encourage me to do so. In fact, I got the distinct impression that she was offended that I'd even asked! I let it go. Foolishly, I still believed that if it had "Doctor Of Medicine" on the diploma, they knew more than I did. That might be true, but they sure don't know it all!! I should have insisted, but I didn't. That is on me.
The most informational thing about that article was, a website for people with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes! Imagine that! I spent 4 hours reading that website from page one to the last page!
In 2003, I went on insulin. At first just the long lasting type. Injected at night, then the short acting that you have to inject before eating. I was also testing my BGL only once daily. I was terrified!
Fast forward to June 2011, my new doctor, told me that my diabetes had reached the "danger level". I went for my "usual check up" and she said that I more than likely would not see Christmas that year if I didn't get "pro-active" in my care of my diabetes. I also had (since pregnancy with my 2nd child) high blood pressure and my cholesterol was ridiculous. She said, "Kathy, you are literally a ticking time bomb." Now let me tell you. That was a wake up call like I'd never had. But even then, I was not referred to an Endocrinologist. I was given "more" pamphlets and diet guidelines, yes they were better than the old ones, but I didn't honestly pay much attention to them.
I joined a gym, I began to honestly watch my diet and I did very well. I lost some weight, not much because I found that when you are on insulin it is extremely hard to lose weight. But with exercise and better eating I saw some results. My insulin requirements began to drop. I felt so good, so much better than I had for years!
I honestly do not know why I "fell off the wagon" but I did. This "new" lifestyle was so difficult for a carb junkie like me. It wasn't that I didn't have support at home. Doug, God Bless Him, was always supportive. If I did it, he did it. BUT, men lose weight so much faster than women because their bodies do not need the fat as much as women do, due to our privilege of being able to have babies! I saw him losing so much weight (he did need to lose some though, he deals with high blood pressure too) and I don't know, it just was discouraging to me. It wasn't his fault! It was me, my stinkin' thinkin" was me letting the doubts and self recriminations win. I was being good, not eating breads, sweets, my beloved Diet Cokes, and still nothing. So why suffer? It wasn't fair! Everyone else that was fat and ate what they wanted didn't have to take shots, not eat what they wanted and they did fine! Ha! That was wrong! But, it was how I felt.
November 2014, I had to go to a new doctor, my last one had been shipped to Japan. She is a doctor in the Reserves and decided to go full time. So, I began the shopping process for a new one. I found Dr. Primrose (Piedmont Medicine) and she is the one that realized just where I WASN'T in my dealing with Diabetes!! She asked me at my first visit why I'd not been under the care of an Endocrinologist. I couldn't answer that one. She told me that I must do so immediately and referred me to Dr. Rene at Endocrine Consultants, PC., in Newnan, GA.
A NEW ERA!
I met Dr. Rene on December 8, 2014. My life changed immediately! She got it! She saw to it that I got it as well! She explained things that I had literally NEVER heard before! She also told me that I would be meeting with a Diabetic Educator for a one on one education there at her office.
My educator's name is Lonya. She is AWESOME!! I met her on December 22nd. By this time I'd gone full bore on the recommendations that Dr. Rene had given me on some print outs. What to eat when....what not to eat all all....what types of exercise I should do......the sleep I needed to get and when/how to take my insulin. I was scared, I don't mind telling you. And it was working! When I met with Lonya the first time I'd already lost 8 lbs. By only changing my diet!! I wasn't exercising at all.
Lonya explained carbohydrates and their effect on me. She taught me how to count them, how many to have at every meal and when to use them to level my BGL's up or down. She taught me how to administer my insulin, when to and when not to! Things I'd NEVER been told! Even when I went on insulin, I was shown how to give myself the shot, but that it it! She explained how the insulin worked to help my body process carbs, deal with the sugar levels in my blood stream and WHY I was having issues with being.....Insulin Resistant! My head was spinning when I left there was so much NEW information in there. But there was NO question that was wrong, never once was I made to feel stupid because I didn't know these things already. She could see that my attempts at self education resulted mostly in wrong information. She could also see the fear had kept me from search to deeply. I thank God daily for Dr. Rene and Lonya!
Monday, February 8, 2015. I went for my 2nd visit with Lonya. As a result of changing my diet, diligent monitoring of my BGL, and taking my insulin as I was supposed to do (which I had NOT been doing before Dec. 8th) I had lost 12 MORE lbs on top of the 8 I'd already lost before, making a grand total of 20 lbs!!! Lonya and I were High Fiving all over that office!
AND, the best part? The LOWERING of my insulin levels!!!!! I finally am seeing the benefits of the correct way to take my insulin, watch carbs and get a little exercise.
I tell you all of this to say just this:
Is it worth it??? YES!!!
If you don't believe me, try and prove me wrong!!