Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Reality Check

I remember an instance as a young girl when I stubbornly refused to do what I knew was right because I wanted things to go my way, and I paid the price. My family was going to go to the Orange County Fair and I was SO excited! I grew up at the beach where I rarely wore shoes if I didn’t have to. I insisted that I was going to the fair barefooted, despite the fact that it was all asphalt and HOT! Of course, Mom said no way. I said yes way. The upshot was that Mom told me that if I didn’t put my shoes on, they would go without me…and they did. I missed the fair because I was stubborn and wasn’t willing to change my ways. I feel as if that young girl has returned.

Yesterday was a really tough day. I ate some stuff that I know isn’t good for me because I wanted it, dammit! The result was a whopping 315 on my meter nearly 3 hours after the meal. Wow. I have NEVER seen a number that high on my meter. Never. I was so appalled and shocked and scared. Then and there I decided to call and make that appointment with a specialist 35 miles away; an actual specialist in diabetes. She would be able to help me straighten this mess out! I called and was told that I had to have a referral and that the soonest I could see said doctor was January. Ugh. The remainder of the afternoon was filled with tears, remorse, self-loathing and pity. Pretty ugly. I felt so sorry for myself and railed against this damn disease. After I settled down a bit, I realized that I was going through stages of diabetes acceptance, very similar to stages of grief. Really? I was dealing with acceptance of a disease that I’ve had for 12 years? It was eye-opening.

When it comes to diabetes, I’ve been pretty lucky. I have been able to adjust my lifestyle and meds slowly and keep my numbers mostly in line. I would have periods of feeling deprived but I was proud of the changes I had made and eventually didn’t miss a lot of the foods I used to crave (except potato chips). Things were rocking along pretty ok and I didn’t have to think about my diabetes much. In fact, I wrote that very thing back in November. In that post I also said: “Someday my blood sugars could go south and my current plan may not work as well. Maybe. If that happens I feel like I’m prepared to deal with it. I feel like I can make adjustments because I already have. I’ve already proven to myself that I can do this.” Reading those words now, only 9 months later, kicked me out of my funk and gave me a little hope.

My doctor wants to “wait and see” and is reluctant to make med changes until things worsen. (ugh). I can’t just go see the specialist like I wanted and fix this issue. That barefoot little girl wants things her way and it ain’t gonna happen right now. It’s time to put my shoes on and get on with it.

I had become too complacent about my diabetes. I let other issues get in front of it and failed to adequately pay attention. Even when things are going well with diabetes, it’s important to watch that you are following your plan. I wasn’t. I slowly fell back in to an eating pattern that made it too easy to eat what I shouldn’t. I was somewhat in denial and thought I was normal. Ha! I’m never gonna be normal and will always, always have to pay attention to what I’m eating. Sad but true.


My body has decided that it’s going to change the game and I need to pay attention. I started yesterday with a slow, short walk on the treadmill to help mitigate that damn high number. I ate reasonably at dinner (my wonderful shrimp stir fry). Today, I’m going to try to get back on track. I will eat lower carb, not highly processed foods. I will get back to regular exercise. I will bake low carb goodies to satisfy me when I need a treat. I will do this, shoes or not, because I’m all growed up now and can make the decisions that are best for me. Decisions that will hopefully allow me to live a longer, healthier life. I’m not going to wait until October for someone else to fix this. I’m going to do whatever I can on my own now and insist on a medication change in October, because quality of life is important. I deserve that. I still hate to wear shoes but I don’t want to miss the fair.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Success and “Not Success”

I was going to title this post “Success and Failure” but this isn’t about failing; it’s about lack of success. There’s a big difference.

People with diabetes work hard to “do what’s right” concerning their condition. We may take the required meds, make changes to our diet, add exercise and seek out support. It takes lots of effort and determination!

Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what the “right thing” is. What food plan works for me, what medications should I take, what should my numbers look like? There are always lots of people who are willing to give you advice. They might be caring friends or fellow PWD, or they could be people trying to sell you something. The best thing to do is experiment yourself and decide what is best for you.

Here’s the thing: we do these things in an effort to improve our health and attempt to keep The Beast under “control” (whatever that is). But what happens when we’re not successful? What happens to us when our best just doesn’t cut it?

Depression.
Guilt.
Shame.
Blame.
The desire to just give up.

It is truly great to read other people’s stories of success; how they made this change or that and had stellar results. I am always SO happy for them! Truly.

“I lost a bunch of weight and my numbers are so improved. I feel great!”

Good for you.

“I started a different food plan, one that shuns junk, and I was able to cut back on my meds!”

Awesome.

“I began exercising and am now running marathons, despite my diabetes!”

Wow.

These stories are inspiring and help PWD to figure out ways to improve their own situation. The problem is that sometimes PWD do all of the above, or a variation, and they are not successful. That sucks.

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 12 years ago and have always managed to keep my A1c in a good range. Slowly, over many years, I’ve made changes to my food plan, tried to exercise more and increased my metformin when needed so that my numbers would remain as close to “in range” as possible. I rarely saw anything on my meter over 180ish unless I really splurged and expected that result. Things were pretty peachy.

Quite some time ago my fasting numbers began to creep up and hung out in the 130s. I didn’t like that but my doctor said, “Your A1c is so good. Don’t worry about it.” No medication change. No acknowledgement of my concern. I had been attending shared medical appointments (a sort of support group combined with a quick dr. visit.) Last April I told the dr. that, although I thought the program was awesome, it just wasn’t something I needed. She agreed and told me to come back in 6 months “since my A1c was so good”. Then things began to change. My fasting numbers crept up to the 140s, 150s, 160s. I began checking before and after meals (which I hadn’t done in a long time). I was often in the 140s before I even ate. Unheard of for me.

½ taco salad (a definite splurge) 187 4 hours after I had eaten.

Chicken strips (another splurge) 210 3 ½ hours later. No dinner that night.

½ apple w/peanut butter – still at 150 4 hours later…and I was hungry.

35 carbs = 134 up to 216.

½ a BLTA sandwich with a handful of fries for lunch today– still hanging out in the 170s.

I rarely share my numbers but I needed you to see that things are different. Instead of staying within range, I’ve been spiking way up and not coming down. (and to clarify, I don't eat those types of things very often. I eat a low carb, sensible diet.)

So what am I doing differently now? Not a damn thing. In fact, I’m eating a lot less and have been gaining weight.

Cue a doctor appointment.

I’m seeing a new doctor (because the other one semi-retired and is only doing share medical appointments and we already established that I didn’t want to do that anymore). He was surprised to see how high my fasting numbers were. We discussed possible medication changes. We talked about the fact that exercise has been difficult lately due to my fibro, but heck I can do better! “Let’s do an A1c and see where you are. If it has gone up dramatically then we’ll see about adding a new medication. If it only goes up slightly then we’ll just wait and see.”

“But what about these fasting numbers? What about these spikes and sustained higher numbers? What should I do about those?”

“They aren’t that bad. Don’t worry.”

Huh. Ugh. WTF????

I am not sharing this to get sympathy or even advice. I’m sharing this because there are so many PWD out there who are doing everything they can to “do the right thing” and make a difference in their condition and sometimes it just doesn’t work! They read stories about how a certain diet makes a huge difference for others or adding exercise “reversed someone’s diabetes”. And there they sit eating low carb and lifting weights to no avail. How do you suppose that feels? Pretty effing crappy.


This post is for you, fellow I’m-trying-so-hard-and-nothing-is-working peeps. It sucks. It’s hard. It’s simply not fair! But, it’s not your fault. You have not failed, you’ve just had the reverse of success. Not success. All we can do is keep on keepin on. Keep trying different things. Keep hammering on our HCPs to help us. Change freakin doctors if you must, but don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t listen to the nay-sayers who tell you that “all you have to do is…” Screw them. They don’t know. They don’t understand. But I do and I think you are fabulous!