Month: September 2014

Energy!

The last couple of days have been so much better- no reading below 80 mg/dL, perfectly normal. Today has been especially good, with energy to actually do something with nearly passing out from trying. I rider-mowed the front yard, cleaned the mower’s deck and tires, changed out our busted water hose for a new one, put it all away (even bagging up the old hose), and got my tonneau cover put back on my truck; granted the last item was a 5-10 minute task for a “normal” person but it took me closer to 20 (glad I bought the lightweight, easy on/off version!). And all of this before noon!

I have high hopes that this change I’ve made in my meds is going to be the right one – and a good one for me. It’s been a very long time since I’ve had the get up and go to accomplish so much in a single day, let alone in a few hours. With God’s help, I feel one big step closer to being the master over this disease.

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This is Like Work

Over the past few weeks I’ve done a lot of testing, trying to figure out how foods (types, quantities, etc) effect my body and BG (blood glucose level) and to pin down, more or less, when my highest reading post-meals are. If you read yesterday’s blog you know that all of testing, and an “oops” on my part, showed me an anomaly that I need to try to get fixed.

This morning I had a food, sugar free instant oatmeal, for breakfast that has “treated me well” so far along with a cup of Greek yogurt for breakfast. Well, it could be the whole cup, rather than half, of yogurt but I suspect it was the oatmeal that shot my BG to 148 an hour after eating; that’s a number that is way too high for my liking or long term health. I suppose this is the beginning, if I remain off the Glyburide, of more intense testing to find out what foods at what times my body can really handle. I’ll tell you, this is turning out to be way more like work than being healthy ever was in the past!

I reckon that the good news is I’ve not experienced any low-lows in over 24 hours now, a first in the past few weeks. And it feels good to not have those episodes, which feel rotten. I have a grocery shopping trip on my agenda today, an activity that has “crashed” me almost every time I’ve done it, so we will see how that goes before I feel like I’m making any real headway.

As much work as it seems like it’s going to be, almost starting afresh it feels like, I’d really like to manage this disease with as few medicines as possible, as naturally as possible, so I’m far from ready to throw in the towel on this “experiment”. I plan on trying it out a week and then giving the doc a call with the results. Of course, the final decision will rest with me, but I will at some point want her professional opinion on all this.

Highs and Lows – or Hypers and Hypos

Like most people these days I reckon, weekends are usually very busy for my family. The fast pace of the weekend seems to throw my diet out of balance: I don’t eat on time, test as regularly, and generally don’t feel as good late Sunday into Monday mornings. After a very off Sunday/Monday last week, I resolved to do a better job this weekend and weekends ahead. I decided to carry my meter with me this weekend, which I have, to make sure I’m testing when I should and I’ve done that. And this is a good habit I think I need to get into and stay with for a while at least. However weekends haven’t been my only difficulty of late; I’ve been having a real time keeping my BG (blood glucose) up where it should be, not getting it down. In fact, I spend more time and calories/carbs on trying to get my BG up than I do on almost anything else, or so it feels.

One day late this past week I forgot to take my meds when I got up; it wasn’t until around 2:00 when I went to get my afternoon doses that I realized this mistake. So, I took my morning pills and called the doctor to see what I should do about my evening dose. She said my readings would be off no matter what so I could take or skip it; I chose to skip it. During this approximately 36 hour long window I realized something: the morning I missed my dose was the only afternoon in weeks I’d not fought to get my BG up! That evening had been a problem and the next afternoon, too, but the single missed-dose day had been closer to a real normal.

Yesterday I used my meter and my watch to make sure I was testing and eating right, even on the go. And again I was fighting really low numbers; many of these readings were well below “safe”, in the 50s. Below is a “snapshot” of my readings: it shows only the highest, average and lowest reading of the day, with the green bar being normal.

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As you can see, there was a definite problem pattern developing.

Last night I did some research on the two meds I’m taking and found some interesting facts. In short, I concluded that the Glyburide is the cause of the problem and that it’s not really good for me in the first place.

Today I removed the Glyburide from my dosage box for this week. I’m going to eliminate it for the week and see how I do. I suspect that I’m going to see a big change, and feel a lot better, without this medicine in my body. I’ll report my findings back here in a week or so, as week as to my doctor.

For mor information on how Glyburide works see THIS LINK.

Surprise and Inspiration

Yesterday when I went to get my flu shot, I was greeted with a little surprise that I had not anticipated. Going in, I had everything ready to layout as to why I was doing things a little differently than my PCP had advised. After getting the vaccine the nurse asked about my numbers and I told her how much they had improved. I then began to rehash the reasons with her that I’d been doing things different, expecting her to – well, I really wasn’t sure what I expected other than maybe some resistance to my self-decided changes. So I was pleasantly surprised when she agreed that all of this made good sense and the the PCP had even done some extra research on this and had left me some advice and to continue with what I was doing!

As it turns out, my nurse (and at least one other staff member) have recently learned (the other/others already knew) she is at the diabetes-door and I have, with my changes, research and many questions, inspired them to get active in taking control of their BG and health. It was really kind of touching that she shared this with me, it’s not like she had to mention it.

I say this not to lift myself up or boast, let me be clear on that. But it shows me how, in yet another way, God can use us and the things going on in our lives and how we react to them to touch other folks lives. Every time I witness His movement in ways like this, so unexpected, I am awed, truly awed.

Almost a Month In Now

I am days away from my one month anniversary of my diagnosis as a T-2 (that sounds weird still). I have done a lot of reading, testing, and journaling/note taking and feel very positive about the future. Thanks to many of you who have guided and instructed me, I have gotten a source of cheaper test strips and have been putting them to use! I now know that, like many diabetics, I spike at closer to an hour, not at two hours, when the doc wants me to test. I have come to a very good understanding of what and why I am doing what I’m doing with my PCP’s nurse, and she agrees with me and will order me supplies whenever I need them. I will see Amy, the nurse, later today for a flu shot and give her a run down on my numbers while I’m there, if she has time.

I have lost around five pounds so far and have made major changes to my diet, all good one that I can live with. And I am exercising more, as I’m able, as instructed by my long-time neurosurgeon. (If you happen to be interested, I have a longer “About Me” type-post on my recently started blog that you can read HERE, which explains more about my other condition.)

I’m also happy thrilled to report that my BG has come way down; I’ve only had 4 readings above 130 since September 1, and I learned something from each one I think. I have had some low readings that were confusing and plain irritating at first but I think I figured those out. My average over the last 30 days with over 100 tests is down to 97!

I’ve also tried lots of new foods, most of which I find I like. I have even gotten to where I can stand a banana once or twice a week; I have always detested them so this is a big surprise for me! And possibly best of all I have a good outlook on the entire situation. I was thinking the other night that the Bible tells us we can choose to be a slave to sin or master it, through faith in Christ. It then occurred to me that the same is true of this disease: I can choose to be a slave to diabetes or I can take control of all the things I can do and be the “master”; I choose to me the master in this “relationship”.

Maybe I Should’ve Started Here

Since starting this blog I’ve realized a lot of my friends don’t know much about my history, if you will. Lots of folks have asked a lit of questions about my health and condition I’ve answered is many times in the past I forget who/where/when I answered it! An email exchange I’ve been having with a gentleman from one of the pipe forums I visit promoted me to post a reply to many of these questions so, those who are interested, will know a bit more about what babe an do deal with, health-wise. Thus a new page is born here on the blog:

Temptation

Today I was faced with my biggest temptation since my diagnosis: church potluck dinner. Everyone jokes about Baptists and their dinners and love of and for good, even us among ourselves. And it’s true, for good reason I might add- in my experience most small churches like the one I attend are, more or less, “country” churches with “country” folks who really know how to make comfort foods! Today being our annual Homecoming service made it all the better – or worse in my case – with higher attendance and more selection on the buffet: mashed potatoes, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, potato and cheese casserole, and much, much more. But then there’s the dessert spread, too, with more than I can tell you about (since I steered clear if it all together). But I will tell you about two dishes there: “Aunt” Bertie’s apple spice cake and Odaline’s peanut butter pie.

Let me start with “Aunt” Bertie; she’s not really my aunt. She is related to half the small congregation, and is a founding member of the church, so (almost) everyone calls her aunt ad I picked up it by habit, which she likes. Bertie’s apple spike cake is delicious and it reminds me of my grandmother’s. In the past he has made them, extra, just for me, a token I greatly appreciated. Until today I had never not had a piece (or two) at any of the dinners we have at church. But today I passed on it.

The story is almost identical for Odeline’s peanut butter pie; a frozen pie that is rich and creamy and so yummy. Many times she has made me one of these extraordinary treats, including today; the look on her face when she realized I “couldn’t eat it anymore” was actually so adorable: the genuine concern because of my health was obvious. (Bertie showed her care, too, when she scolded a couple of the kids {to my ears only, not theirs} for tempting me with their large plates full of rich sweets. Of course they didn’t mean anything by it; just kids playing around I’m sure.) I passed on the pie as well, also for the first time.

Now, it’s not that I can’t eat these foods anymore, rather I chose not to indulge in them today. I know that my choice will have consequences – bad choices equate bad consequences, good choices mean good consequences. I’m sure there will be days when I choose the bad option; I’m human and will make bad decisions. But the key is to make good choices much more often than bad ones, as is true in all aspects of life. A good analogy is that I’m in a war and sometimes battles will be lost; but the war will be won.

There Will be Blood …

The past few weeks since my diagnosis I’ve been reading a lot, when my eyes cooperate, on diabetes. And I have learned quite a bit already, too. The single biggest thing I’ve learned is that testing my blood glucose (BG) level is paramount in getting a handle on this “thing” and that the “twice daily” that I was prescribed by my doctor, as is the case with most diabetics, isn’t enough.

The fasting, first thing in the morning test tells me how I’m starting out the day and what my last snack did for me. But it is a number that’s more important to the doctor than to me. And the one test, two hours after any meal, is important to the doc, too, but doesn’t really tell me much; I need to know what it was before I ate anything and what time it actually is at it’s highest (the “spike), which isn’t necessarily two hours after I’ve finished eating. For many diabetics the spike occurs at around an hour after meals, not two, so finding when that happens requires extra tests; this week I’m doing a test before every meal and again every 30 minutes after meals for 90 minute to two hours, depending in the results.

I hope that I can narrow down my time in just a few days; all the testing takes a lot if strips and blood, making for some sore fingers. Of course sore fingers for a short while are much preferred over the potential complications of uncontrolled or not well managed diabetes.

Oh boy, my 39 minutes are up; off to poke – again!

Testing Supplies: Review and Thoughts on the ReliOn Prime System

The following is a slighly revised (added links) copy of a review I wrote for the ReliOn Test Meter on Walmart.com recently. I briefly cover it and the strips, compare it to the meter my insurance company provided me, and the reasons why I chose to purchase it.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes my insurance provided me with Bayer Contour Next EZ meter and strips. I quickly realized that the other brand was going to cost a lot to test as often as I really needed to, at least at the beginning. to get a hold on my disease and being to manage it well. The online community at the ADA highly recommended this meter and strips for it value and reliability, as did a close personal friend so I bought this meter and a pack of strips to try out.

The meter is a pretty basic, no frills model; it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of my other meter or some of the other ones that you can get. But it does the job and it is much cheaper in the long run, even with insurance co-pay, than any other brand/model I’m aware of. I put all of my readings into a paper and electronic (iPhone app) log anyway so the “extras” aren’t needed anyway.

The only negative things I can say about the meter/system are in comparison to the Bayer Contour Next EZ that my insurance company started me out with: This system is a little more finicky in that it “wicks” the blood in differently, from the center of the tip of the strip, which took a few tries to get right, and seems ti take a tad more blood to get a reading without getting an error code (E13 I think) for “not enough blood applied” to read. Both the meters say they give you a little time to add more is you don’t’ get it right the first time without wasting the strip; I have not been successful in getting either to actually do that though yet, so both get a “fail” on this claim in my opinion.

The readings/accuracy from my experience and testimonies from other users seems very good. I have to say that it is a good value and great option for those who want/need to test more often than you doctor or insurance company prescribe/allow for or for those that might not have insurance. In my case, the doctor has allowed for two tests.day but I know that I need to test at least twice, maybe more, than that at this early stage to get a handle on what my body does with different foods and exercise. I couldn’t afford to do these extra tests with the Bayer meter because of the cost of the strips/ even with insurance paying toward the Bayer strips, the ReliOn strips are going to be cost me less out of pocket to just but them outright. This system not only work but makes good financial sense, too. And the my local Walmart seems to carry a good, steady supply of the strips so there are no worries about running out and having to wait on mail-order deliveries.

“A Guy Walks into the Doctor’s Office and ….”

Sounds like the beginning of joke, doesn’t it? It’s supposed to = because that is exactly how I felt when I got my diagnosis, like someone was pulling my leg, or at least confused or wrong. But let me back up a little and share how I got “the news” and a little back-story for context.

I met my family doctor, I’ll call her Dr L, about 15 years or so ago; she was my mother in law’s doctor and I took her to some of her appointments. I was impressed with her: she was kind, gentle, knowledgeable, and had a good sense of humor. Up until I was almost 40 I used my neurosurgeon as my primary care doctor. When my wife’s insurance company made a change that required me to get a physical and some blood work I realized I needed a primary care physician – a family doctor. Who better, I thought, than Dr. L? She was great, I’ll start off by saying, from day one. I found out that I had high cholesterol and triglycerides (but everything else was good) so taking my limited ability to exercise and family history of heart attack into account she got right on getting those things under control; in six months, with slight diet modifications and medication, all of my blood work was good. And it stayed that way for years, and her care for me was always top-notch in other ares that I needed a doctor, referral, medical advice, etc. for until about 18 or so months ago.

Dr. L and her husband were going through a nasty divorce, which started about two years ago. I don’t know all the details, and I don’t care to, but I know it ended badly with custody fights and eventually her selling her private practice and going in with a “group”; I now know her home was also foreclosed on, a sad thing for anyone to go through, with or without a divorce.

During my last three visits to her I noticed a difference: she wasn’t as bubbly as normal, was a bit cold, and somewhat distant. I figured she was having some depression issues with all she was dealing with; changes of large magnitude are hard on all of us. I hoped she would soon “snap out of it” and prayed for her.

A few weeks ago I got a call from Dr. L’s office to confirm an upcoming appointment – except they didn’t say it was Dr. L’s office calling but another name, one I didn’t know. The receptionist, who I’ve known for five or six years, told me Dr. L had left that office and was transferred to an urgent care facility that the “group” also owned. I was saddened to hear this but figured it was probably a change she needed to make to move on with her life; I confirmed I’d come in to see the new lady (my new “family doctor” is actually a Family Nurse Practitioner).

A couple of days later I found myself sitting in a familiar exam room with an unfamiliar face, thinking “How much does she know already about my medical history and what am I going to have to go over again with this new lady?” when she asked me who was taking care of my diabetes; I’m going to have to go over everything with her was what I was now thinking. I chuckled a little and replied “No, one; I don’t have diabetes.” Her right eyebrow raised inquisitively as her eyes darted down to my chart and back up at me; I knew then something was very wrong.

She went on to ask if I had been given the results of my recent blood work, the most recent were about 16 and 10 months old, respectively. I told her no, I’d heard nothing; both of my last few labs were ordered and performed after my regular visits and Dr. L always called if any concerns came up and I’d gotten no calls. As she started to explain that my sugar and A1C were both abnormal my head began to spin. First, I didn’t even know what an A1C was, and second this all had to me a false reading/mistake I began to tell her. She gently replied that we could do a quick test to see, if that was okay with me; I was all for that! I wanted to get this put to bed and now.

The minutes went by very slowly waiting to get that test back; the less than-10 minute test seemed to take hours. But Jamie, the new “doc”, and I spoke about other things, medically related to me, while we waited, though I could barely focus on them. The nurse, whom I dearly love, came in and gave Jamie the results, which she read and compared to my previous tests. After a minute or so she told me (sincerely) she was sorry no one had followed up on my labs and then began to explain to me what my results showed: my first test, 16-18 months ago, was 6+, a definite danger/concern number, my last test was 7+ (I can’t recall either decimal on these readings), a diabetic reading, and today was 14.3, literally off the chart she later showed me. Angry, dumbfounded, confused, helpless, and scared are a few of the things I felt at that moment; I was also still in denial. New fasting blood work was ordered for the next day and a follow-up appointment was set for the next week. She gave me very little info, not wanting me to be overwhelmed (too stinking late for that!) and told me that she would go over everything at my follow-up, which she did as I’ll write more about later. She tried her level best to set me at ease, saying there would likely be some changes I’d need to make but nothing too drastic. And that she was almost certain that I’d not need shots, though I would have to do blood glucose (BG) testing.

As we parted ways that day she made some very tasteful, and very helpful and comforting, jokes, revealing her sense of humor and personality a bit to me; I needed that more than I can say, and I think she knew it. And so I left the office with a million and one thoughts, concerns and questions but one that loomed larger than an other: This has to be a mistake, and the new labs will prove that. Later I’ll write more but let us close with this: The new labs confirmed a lot, but nothing that my delusion of denial had me hoping for.