Diabetes

Checkup Time

So, today is checkup day; I had my blood drawn Monday morning and will get my three month test results today. I’m anxious, a bit, since it’s been a long, tough winter for me; I know my weight hasn’t dropped and hope my A1C hasn’t risen much with the poor choices I’ve made the last few months. We shall see very soon I reckon. 

In the meantime, while waiting to see the nurse and my primary care giver, I wrote a little haiku. There’s a “new” policy here: if you’re more than 10 minutes late you won’t be seen. I expressed my thoughts on this last time I was here and I understand the policy now, from their point of view. But it should flow both ways, this policy, in my not-so-humble opinion: if I wait longer than 10 minutes my visit should be free – I’m not holding my breath in that though. 

  

(Photo credit)

Be on time or else
The doctor’s new policy
Doesn’t self-apply

Healthy Heart Month

With all that’s going on in February, and I’ll spare you the list, I had no idea that it is also Healthy Heart Month until I got an email from the American Diabetes Association with this news. After reading it, I thought I would share a few simple things that I’ve done to make my heart a bit (or hopefully more) healthy.

Obviously I’m not you and I don’t know your health problems or other conditions; you and your doctor know these things. Make sure you talk to your doctor about what will work for you and your body, medication(s) you currently take, etcetera, before making any changes you are unsure of.

The short list, now, of a few things that I am doing:
– eat more fresh fruits and vegetables: This is a no-brainer.
– take a fish oil supplement: I know I don’t eat enough fish to get the extra omega-3 fatty acids to help make my heart healthier.
– get more potassium in your diet: Most people don’t get the USRDA of potassium in their diets. Adding a banana a day will really raise the amount you are getting. And bananas are okay for most diabetics to eat, as long as they aren’t eating them with a lot of other carbs.
– get more magnesium in your diet: I don’t think there is a USRDA on this mineral but I do know it’s an important one! For more on the benefits of magnesium, as well as the possible negatives, read this article
– eat more whole grains: No matter who you are or what ails you, opting for whole grains over processed “stuff” is good for you and your heart!
– know your numbers: Have a blood panel done so you will know what your HDL, LDL, triglycerides, and A1C are; it’s hard to work on correcting what you aren’t aware of needing correcting.

And lastly: Do your research. Your doctor can and should advise you on when your health is and what you can do to improve it. But ultimately almost all of our ailments, including but not limited to diabetes, are mostly self-managed. With the technology and resources we have at our fingertips, available at our whim and will, there really is no excuse to read up on medication, treatments, supplements, and lifestyle changes that may benefit us. After all, we are our own best advocates.

Swerving Without Braking

Given the title of my blog, I kind of thought it was time to make a post that played off of it a little at least. In my neck of the woods, literally speaking, we have a lot of potholes that begin developing this time of year. Trying to avoid them can seem, indeed be, impossible to accomplish. One of the worst things you can do when avoiding (or trying to) an object while driving is to swerve, especially a hard, fast maneuver, without braking. That fast gut-reaction cut of the wheel on its own can lead to terrible consequences, including loosing total control of your vehicle, fishtailing, and even a crash that can cause serious injury to person and property. Controlled avoidance, deliberate steering with the proper braking action, is the correct way to miss the pothole (or deer, dog, person, vehicle, etcetera) in your path. The same theory applies to life and its challenges, in my experience at least.

Over the holiday season I allowed myself some dietary freedoms that I thought I could handle and would save me from feeling “deprived” and lesson my enjoyment of these times. For the most part I was successful with this theory and strategy: for the most part. Unfortunately as the holiday season departed the bite of winter really began to take hold in my region. And my ailments don’t get along with winter weather very well. I also seek comfort in foods that are, well, comfort foods! But those foods aren’t really comfort foods for me: they are kill-me-slowly foods.

The success I’d had in my small indulgences led me to the false impression that I could take in more of these “treats” on a regular basis without negative backlash from my body. Soon I was seeing a spike in my blood glucose (BG) levels, some small, others too large for my target. And I also began to realize that I wasn’t feeling as well as I had been, of course I initially laid that blame on the weather solely, which wasn’t true. Then the scales began to reveal more bad news: the number was not steady, let alone going down, but climbing! I was swerving to avoid an obstacle in my path without methodically applying the brakes to control my trajectory, like the car and the potholes I began this post with.

About a week ago is when this reality clicked – and I’ve been applying the brake and controlling my path much better since then. The good news is the scales and the BG meter confirm that my path is getting back on course. The bad news is that my body still doesn’t tolerate winter weather changes well, and likely never will again: my ailments are not likely to get better and my body is going to continue to breakdown with the aging process. But I can do something about how I react to the situation: I can apply reason, caution, and experience to my decisions. While having those tools are an advantage there is no guarantee that I will always use them when I need to. Hopefully I will grow as a “driver” on this “road” as I have over the years operating a motor vehicle: with experience and time an almost muscle-memory style of driving has been “born” making my actions and reactions more consistent and with much less thought needing to go into them. On both the road of life and the roads of asphalt we all need to be solid, defensive drivers.

Tidings of Joy

As I type this I am relaxing with a cup of coffee, with “Santa’s workshop” officially closed, awaiting time to open the Christmas kitchen, enjoying the last hours of peace before the holiday chaos (which I mostly enjoy) ensues. It occurred to me that in my hustle of the season and enduring a sinus infection over the last week I forgot to mention my results to my recent blood work.

If you have read much of this blog you know that my A1C was off the charts in August when I found out I’m a T2 diabetic: over 14. I’ve made some significant changes in my lifestyle to get this disease under control and was looking forward to seeing what three months of those changes would bring to my BG, triglycerides, cholesterol, and other numbers. It was odd to be looking so forward to a doctor appointment!

The reports showed that my efforts had paid off; my A1C is now 5.2, well in the normal, non-diabetic range! This doesn’t mean I’m not a diabetic anymore: I am and always will be unless a cure is found. It does mean that I’ve made substantial strides towards mater the disease rather than being a slave to it, as I like to say. My other numbers were, in my PCP’s words “excellent”, though I don’t recall what they were; I was too happy with the A1C to even listen to the other numbers.

I feel much better, too, overall. I am closer to being “me” than I have been in over a year. I am moving and doing more than I have in a long time and enjoying life and my family and friends and hobbies more than I have in ages. And I have no reason to think it will do anything but get better with time.

I am truly abundantly blessed, this year and always, really. My health is improving, I’m happier, I have my family, and I have my Savior, Jesus, whose birth we celebrate today. It is with the sincerest heart I can say that I am writing this today with tiding of joy.

Merry Christmas, my friends, and may God richly bless your holiday season.

Reflecting

I’m sitting back resting a little while today before it is time to pick my grandson up from school, just enjoying the quiet and thinking a little bit. I had my blood drawn for tests this morning, which I’ll have the results to next Monday. I’m anxious to learn what they will show from the last three months.

Since Thanksgiving I’ve been a bit (maybe even more than a bit) off my eating plan/game. I really haven’t done too badly but I have made some poor, unhealthy choices that I probably oughtn’t have. These poor choices had led me to not test as often as I should’ve the last few weeks and to a gain of a few pounds. I’m not going to beat myself up over these things though; we are in the holiday season and I do want to enjoy them to an extent, which I think I am without overindulging.

One of the reasons I can still feel positive about about the changes I’ve made, despite the backward-progress of the last few weeks is how I feel overall. Yesterday I spent several hours working on some plumbing in the bathroom that desperately needed done. Well, one item had to be done and the other two just needed done. Then today I spent a little more time finishing up the projects: we now have a new shut off valve to the toilet, new supply line, new “guts” in it, a new sink faucet, and a new shower head assembly. I did all of this by myself and was able to get it all done with little trouble (including the several trips to the hardware store for supplies as I found I needed them). Six months or so ago I’d not have done all that in a day plus a morning; I didn’t have the energy nor did I have the wits about me to get a job like this done without fouling something up. But since I’ve worked so hard at getting this diabetes under control I feel and think much better. And I thank God that I do!

I know that I have a long road ahead of me still; I’ll be working to stay ahead of this disease for the rest of my life. But once I’ve gotten my weight down to where it needs to be I’ll be battling a lot less and the road won’t be so steep. Realizing the improvement in my overall health is plenty incentive to push along steadily through the holiday season. And it will be the motivation for pulling ahead, back on solid ground, after the festivities are over and the New Year begins.

So, now I wait for next Monday to get my results and hear what the doc has to say about all of this. I’m so eager to know my “numbers” that I can already tell it’s going to be a long week – but that’s a good thing!

Truly Thankful

The bird and dressing have been in a low, slow oven since late last night. Soon it’ll be time to start cooking all of the trimmings and getting the final items ready for today’s feast. As I sit here writing this, enjoying a cup of coffee, watching cartoons with my grandson, I am very thankful for this day, more than I have been in years probably.

Looking back, I’ve not felt as good as I do now, the last few months, in a couple of years or longer. Yes, I’m a diabetic now and have to make better and different choices, but those changes have led to a much healthier and happier me. I look forward to these things only getting better and being around and more useful for and to my family for quite some time, Lord willing.

I am not even apprehensive about the big carb-filled meal we’ll be sitting down to in a matter of hours. I know there’s a good chance I’ll make a poor choice but I’m conscious of what it too much now and know a bad choice or day doesn’t mean doom. I’m also very close to one of my short term weight goals and very motivated to hit it. So I plan on just enjoying the time and the meal with my family, without worrying over little things.

God has truly blessed me in my life. And I , now, see this diagnosis as a Type-2 diabetic as a blessing in disguise. Without it who knows how poor my health would be and how far I would’ve already deteriorated. Yes, u truly am a thankful man today – and everyday.

Christmas Pajamas

We have a little tradition of sorts around our house of giving pajamas as gifts to open on Christmas Eve. As long as I can remember my wife and I have given our kids a pair of PJs to wear on Christmas morning as a gift to open on Christmas Eve ; this practice has tapered off the past few years with our children growing up and moving out on their own.

Last year my wife surprised me with a pair of new pajamas on Christmas morning, something we hadn’t done as part our tradition in the past. I was amused and touched by the gift; I reckoned that I’m her baby now! But I knew that the pajama pants would be too small with one look at them. I put them away, later, after all the gifts were opened and forgot about them – until today.

Old Man Winter is toying with us, playing with the barometric pressure and temperature, today. As many of you know, the change in the pressure really aggravates my arthritis so today has been a not-so-good day; I did almost nothing (again) today with my achy joints. I did manage to fold and put away a little laundry this afternoon though and that’s when I saw those pants tucked away in my wardrobe. Nearly a year later and several pounds lighter, I decided to try them on and to my delight they fit me just perfectly!

Diabetes took almost 40 unexplained pounds off my body since last winter; my lifestyle changes have added another near 30 pounds to that tally in the last few months. I’ve noticed that my other clothes were getting too big, or fitting better, in the last month or so but I don’t think I had realized yet how much the difference really was until today. And this revelation came at a very good time for me, having felt so bad the last two weeks or so.

Another “little victory” in the war to master the disease, rather than be it’s slave. And as always, it was given to me in just the right time; God is good, all the time.

Not Always Consistent

The past few days I’ve not Ben getting much of anything done; I’ve irritated my back somehow and haven’t been very active in any aspect. I’m having a tough time even concentrating to work on Sunday’s lesson. So, I thought I’d burn a few minutes this afternoon with an attempt, hopefully not a terrible one, at a post.

This past Sunday I had another “event” as I was teaching a lesson on the parable of the wheat and the tares. About 15 minutes into the lesson I began to fell off- sweaty, “cotton” mouth-thirsty, a bit disoriented, and having trouble speaking clearly. I remembered these symptoms being on a fact sheet my FNP gave me pointing toward hyperglycemia, high BG. I the past I’ve had hypoglycemic, low BG, episodes and they always have similar symptoms: shakiness, cold sweats, and at times a slightly nauseous feeling. I assumed I was having a hyperglycemic event and pushed on.

That day we had an appreciation dinner for our pastor after church. I also forgot my meter at home that day. This meant I couldn’t check my BG to be sure of the cause, or check it at all, for several hours. I ate safety at the dinner, avoiding many carbs with extra vigilance.

I posed the question on the diabetes support form I’ve become a member of, along with more details of the day, food I’d had, etcetera, hoping to get some experienced advice from the group. And the folks there didn’t disappoint!

What I knew, that without the meter to test, it was impossible to say for sure the cause of what happened was confirmed. But I also learned that hypoglycemic incidents can have the same symptoms as hyperglycemic ones and the majority of the “veterans” thought I was experiencing a low, not high, event. This really surprised me, especially since my past experience didn’t align with that – or did it?

After thinking long and hard about it, I realized the last time I’d had a low the symptoms were almost exactly the same as the ones I had this past Sunday. It seems that depending on a number of factors, there aren’t necessarily any constant in how one will feel during a low; you might feel one way one time and very differently the next. This unwelcome news is very unpleasant for me to learn; I was hoping “experience” would help me to predict what might be happening to my body, but that’s not the case. I can learn how foods effect me and mostly count on that, but it ends there pretty much.

At least I know now that for a type 2 diabetic lows are much more common than highs and I should be safe and treat anomalies as lows if I have no way to test. And nearly as important, maybe more so really, it was reinforced how important taking that meter with me is. It’s a shame that I can’t store an extra meter and strips in the truck (like I do with a package of glucose tabs and peanut butter packet) so I don’t have to be concerned with forgetting it. But the meter and strips, especially the strips, aren’t made to withstand the fluctuations of being left inside a vehicle for any amount of time. I reckon that the more time I “log” as a T2 the apt I’ll be to forget my essentials behind when I’m on the road.

Little Victories

There have been many changes in the past several weeks to my life, as you know. Some of them have been huge changes and others smaller ones. I had what I call a “little victory” Tuesday and wanted to share it.

As my diabetes began to effect my body, unchecked for so many months, I began to have lots of side effects that I thought were normal for one reason or another. One of these was my vision worsening. Not too long ago I had to buy stronger reading glasses, figuring that age was taking its toll on my eyes. In August after I was diagnosed I realized that the disease not age were causing this vision trouble; it was much worse than just needing stronger readers by that point, too. I hoped that as I took control of the situation my vision, and other symptoms, would get better, maybe even return to “normal”. Tuesday I was able to buy another new pair of reading glasses – in the old strength I used to use!

Sometimes we overlook the small things, like this one. But they add up to enormous achievements when stop and savor all the little victories- and sometimes that’s just the thing we need to keep us going. God is good and He provides just what we need, just when we need it; we only need to notice His blessings when they come so we can appreciate them and thank Him.

What’s There to Worry About?

Well, despite my worry, my appointment went great today! And I am doing a lot more than my medical team is used to seeing; they were really impressed with my research, logged information (diet, BG, exercise, etcetera) and especially the changes I’ve made and progress I’ve made.

My initial A1C two months ago was 14.3 (I’m a little foggy on that but it’s close); today it was – after only 60 days – 6.5!! I was really hoping to be 7 or less and I made it. I’ve “officially” by their scales lost 13 pounds, too; mine says 15 lol. And that’s intentional weight loss, unlike the 40-ish pounds I lost previously because of uncontrolled diabetes. They were very impressed how I researched the meds, looked at my own charts and data and realized Glyburide was a problem for me, not a help. And they seemed pretty amazed when I expla Alan_S and Jenny’s “test, test, test” concept to keep my BG in check all the time, or as much as I’ve been able so far; I test mostly 1 and 2 hours after meals to see how foods and things are working with my body and medicines, not, now, being as concerned with what the pre-meal number is.

My FBG has been a little high I thought since I eliminated the Glyburide; it’s usually 90-101. But she thought that was excellent. In fact, she thought my body has begun to heal and right itself remarkably well. Not to minimize my effort, having great resources to learn from and a loving, supportive family has been huge in this, but ultimately the success comes from the Designer of this body; without God’s help I’d be a worse mess than I am – in many ways!

So I reckon my anxiety was all for naught- and I’m sure glad if that! I go back for total blood panel, A1C, and a new-to-me test 24-hour protein right before Christmas. That ought to help motivate me to stay strong during the holidays!