I thought it was really strange that I needed a new vision prescription so soon. I had just ordered new glasses in November and it was now February. It was rather sudden. I was surprised that I literally woke up one morning and my glasses didn’t correct my vision. In fact, my vision was correcting itself and within a couple of days, I didn’t need my glasses at all. It was easier to concentrate on this simple gift of sight than to think about all the other things that were nagging at me.
I was increasingly thirsty, but, it wasn’t the type of thirst I’d had in the past. I’ve experienced dry, parching thirst of playing softball in Oklahoma, in July with the heat rising off the dirt of the infield. This was unquenchable to the point that my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth when I tried to talk. I was also getting up several times each night to visit the restroom. Now, I know that “at my age” that’s typical, but not 4-5 times each night.
I was eating everything I wanted, literally. I was insatiable, eating ice cream at least twice a day. I frequented fast food chains eating the super-king-sized-swallow-calories-until-you’re-in-a-stupor meal. What was even MORE compelling than the hunger was that I was losing weight! I lost 40 pounds from February until June of 2009 and have since lost another 5. Now, I know that sounds like the dream diet; eat it all, lose a pound a day, but the constant headache and fatigue was really not worth the glutenous intake. I would eat, pass out, wake up to eat some more.
I also had a few symptoms that aren’t in the textbooks, but I have found references to them since. I would have the worst cramps in the calves of my legs, just before waking. I’d had “Charlie Horses” before, but these would leave bruises from cramping up so tight. I also started losing hands full of hair. These were the symptoms that finally drove me to the Dr.
I had an idea of what was brewing. I’d even practiced the thought of hearing, “diabetes” so that I would face it bravely when the Dr. spoke the words. I went in and had a random blood glucose (BG) drawn and it was 287. I went in a few days later with 14 hours of fasting behind me and it was 265. I was told that two tests over 200 and a fasting result that high meant I had. . .I waited. . .the “D” word. Namely, he said I had Type II Diabetes. The Dr. was kind enough to not overload me with information that first day. He said, “you’re probably in shock so I don’t want to throw alot of information your way that you won’t remember.” He arranged for me to meet with the Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) to learn how to change my diet, gave me the requisite speech about further complications I want to work hard to avoid and sent me on my way. He did also add that he’s got many patients that correct their diet, get exercise and can even be taken off meds. He was hopeful that soon, if I was motivated and “compliant” I too would be fine, not needing medication and completely controlling my diabetes with diet and exercise.
I had two weeks until my appointment with the CDE. In the meantime, I didn’t know what to do, what to eat, so I tried to follow my old Weight Watcher’s plan as I knew that had been deemed a “healthy” diet by my former Dr. Well, that diet was all about counting points rather than carbs. I tried to just make healthier choices; fruit instead of chips, wheat bread instead of white, all the things I remembered from WW, but it was still too many carbs and I was still falling asleep 20 minutes after eating. Finally, I met with the CDE, was put on a healthy eating plan, told to exercise 15o minutes a week and sent off to be the model patient.
I had a month of being amazed at how well I was doing. My fasting BG was down below 140 in the mornings and during the day, I was able to keep it under 180, which is what I was given as target values. I wasn’t exercising regularly yet and my numbers were starting to creep a little higher each day. One day, I was feeling exceptionally bad, checked my BG and found that it was 480! I called the Dr. and he suggested I come in right away. He looked through my BG log and asked what was the difference between a few weeks ago when my numbers were down and now. I explained that I was working on a project that required 12 hours of typing a day and I wasn’t getting exercise as I had a few weeks ago. He was blatantly honest and told me I had two choices. I can exercise or I can die. I chose to exercise.
I again had another month or so when the treatment seemed to work. I could test before exercise and after and see that my BG had dropped at least 100 points. It was really amazing! Then again. . the numbers started creeping up, no matter how hard I worked. There was one night that my BG went up into the 300’s. I worked out for 3 hours that night trying to work it down and it actually went up! It was maddening. . I finally collapsed on the couch in tears.
The numbers continued to climb. I had another checkup and mentioned my concern but my A1c was down from 13.7 to 7.3. (We strive to have this result be under 7) This A1c test measures how much glucose has glycated “stuck” to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. Blood cells live about 3 months, so this gives a 3 month record of your glucose levels. it’s a valuable test to see long-term change in your BG levels. The Dr. was SO pleased with the results. He sent me on my way.
Next post. . .A new diagnosis