Sunday, April 20, 2008

You Know How to Make A Girl Feel Welcome!

Wow! I had no idea so many of you would be interested in reading about my adventures in trying to smite the diabetes. Oh, the responsibility. Thank you for all the comments you guys left. And many thanks to Ryan for directing you over here!

Diabetes Sucks, Part 2
I really wanted to call my blog "Diabetes Sucks" but it turns out that someone had beat me to it and when you Google on that phrase it's really obvious I'm not the only one who feels this way about having diabetes—doesn't matter if it's type 1 or type 2.

Diabetes is one of those diseases that really can’t be managed for you by someone else—no matter how good their intentions. My partner Ryan tried for years to get me to eat better, to pay more attention to the diabetes, to gently remind me that I do, in fact, have diabetes—but it usually ended in arguments and pouting because I’ve never liked being told what to do. And I didn't want to be reminded about it while I was eating a piece of cake, or a big bowl of ice cream or seconds on mashed potatoes. I was happy living in my little bubble of denial.

It's a really personal disease because it affects so many parts of your life. It can affect how you socialize—whether friends invite you to food-related things or not, whether you participate in potlucks, how far from home you can get without a snack, whether you can have a glass of wine with dinner or not, staying away from the goodies that people bring to the workplace, food gifts from vendors, trying not to hurt your host's feelings when you don't eat something they've prepared, etc. Your fingers are always sore from the blood testing which makes it hard to do things you may enjoy like playing the guitar, crafts, or doing anything that requires fingertips. If you have squeamish friends, you have to go find someplace to test* and/or give yourself a shot of insulin. So you end up missing out on fun and conversation. You can see why it's a lot easier to just ignore the diabetes—it's just a heck of a lot more fun to pretend you don't have it.

Eating 101
Carbs are the enemy for diabetics. Most people know this. The more carbs you eat, the harder it is for your body to use the glucose, the higher your blood sugar goes, and the more exhausted your pancreas gets. So why the hell do doctors and nutritionists tell a type 2 diabetic to eat 200 grams of carbs a day without the benefit of injected insulin?

I did this for years. Guess what? My blood sugar averages were around 140 mg/dL which does NOT keep you out of the "bad things will happen to you later" level of the game.

My friend and fitness coach Kristn and I had been talking about eating for diabetes and the fact that what I'd been told to do wasn't working, so she sent me a link to Mark's Daily Apple where he pretty much laid out why type 2 happens and why eating all those carbs everyday is probably not a good idea. It’s written in laymen’s terms and talks about how the process works and how the excess carbs we eat contribute to type 2 diabetes. I learned more in this five or six minutes of reading than from my doctor, from the nutritionist, or from the 8 or 9 books I wasted money on about managing diabetes.

This got me thinking—I’d already been weightlifting hard for several months with measurable results (albeit no weight loss), but some definite rearrangement of fat. What if I tried to reduce my carb intake and packed on as much muscle as I could in order to increase my insulin sensitivity?

So that’s what started this sort of crazy journey. My initial goal really wasn’t to lose weight but to increase my insulin sensitivity so that my blood sugars would be more level—and lower—throughout the day and to eventually cut down on the amount of metformin I was taking. I figured if I snuck up on the diabetes from a different direction maybe I could beat it into submission.

And honestly, I'd given up on losing weight years ago.

*Personally, I test my blood sugar in the kitchen because that's where I am when I get ready to eat and I'm more likely to test if the meter's sitting there looking at me while I'm prepping a meal. Some people might think this is really gross but we're talking about a drop of blood slightly larger than the head of a pin.


The Old Man & His Dog said...

Keep it up. You are well on your way now that you have some good information. Funny how stupid Dr's are huh? Sad for those of us that paid all that money and spent all that time trying to get their opinion though. I'm contemplating some lifting myself. Just have to find the courage to start. Good luck and best wishes.

jeanne said...

TMK, you're a Mistress Krista Stumptuous devotee, just like me! I caught a bug a few weeks back and couldn't get to the gym. I missed it like I couldn't believe. I know lifting is only part of the puzzle in getting and staying healthy, but it's one that more women need to know about.

Here's to your continuing good health!

Naomi said...

You know what? This is what I know. First off, doctor's and health care professionsals only know so much - first off - they are human. Humans mostly do the best they can.

That is why I love the internet. There is so much hope out there and that is what you are providing. HOPE and an real life experience that choices a person makes CAN make a difference.

Like you said, each person has to make the change for their own lives. Only that person can do it. No one else can.

Thanks for the reminder!

Kristen said...

I have to say, if your doctor sucks, please go get yourself a new one. There are good ones out there. My doctor is won-der-ful. I would probably be in much worse shape if I didn't have him in my corner. And while it is most certainly true that eating 200 grams/day is death for some diabetics, it was a goal that really helped me at the beginning. (Don't ask how many carbs/day I was eating before!) Just keep on working and figuring out what works best for you. My boyfriend has been type 1 since he was 18 months old and it is still sometimes a mystery for him (he's 34). Yup, diabetes sucks, but we can keep it from controling us. Keep up the good fight!

Linda 'K' said...

You know David gave up on the fingers after about a week and went to the upper arm for taking his blood samples and never looked back . He told me about some famous dude who insisted "they" make a better machine because his hands were his livelihood (wish I could remember what he does) and he wanted to NOT have to do it on his fingers.

Crafty Coug said...

Hi TMK, it sounds like you're not the same person I met in the yarn shop in Cashmere almost a year ago! I assume as the Yarn Harlot's chauffeurs in Seattle that you and Ryan will be at her show tonight. Have fun with it and I hope you can come visit again. Let me know if you do make it over! -Diana (CraftyCoug)

TMK said...

Linda K: It is true that with most of the new meters you're supposed to be able to draw blood from your forearm. Unfortunately, I'm one of those freaks who has no surface veins on my arms so it's fingertips for me.

Mel said...

Have you tried the sides of your fingers rather than the tips? That's where the ex always does his because it's less sensitive and not on the surface that's usually getting pressure applied to it. I've done it there myself and it does get a little sore, but still not so bad as right at the tip.

TMK said...

Mel: Yep. When I say fingertips I mean the sides. ;-)

Barbara said...

Hey, TMK, I've always admired your stubborn crankiness in the face of Ryan's bubbly cheerfulness. You keep taking care of yourself. Us stubborn cranks gotta stick together.

Be nice to the Harlot tonight. I know you will be.

Love from one of the yarn people.

erika said...

This is my best "No, I didn't eat an entire half batch of peanut butter cookies last night, who would do something like that?" face.

Is it working?

Patience said...

Congratulations on getting religion, and good luck on keeping it.

I'm a type I for 13 years (28 at dx), raised by a type I mom, and, yes, there is a diabetic culture, particularly when it comes to interactions with food.

One thing to watch for when you use a meter in a kitchen is to make sure you wash your hands well before using. You don't want sugars from food you're preparing to contaminate your sample.

Yeah, you may gross out the normals, but that's their problem.

It's rare to find a doctor/CDE who doesn't live the life to really understand the challenges. There's some dumb advice out there. A good practitioner will help you figure out what works for you to meet your goals.

Linda 'K' said...

Oh yeah, I forgot about how amazingly fine your skin is too - better not to take away from a good thing. Just as a follow-up, David told me the famous person is B.B. King! Not all the machines are certified to work as well away from the fingertips - his does and is called the "One-Touch Ultra."

Morenna said...

Hey TMK! Welcome to blogland! I'm not diabetic, though I have diabetic relatives. It's interesting to read about the trials and tribulations of figuring out what works for you and your body. I think most non-diabetics think managing blood sugar is simple and that the same thing works for everybody and always works the same way.

Rebecca said...

You are so on your way that I seriously didn't recogonize you last night. I am so proud of you for all your hard work. I'm going to have to squeeze you next time I see you.!

Janet , Type 2 for a year now said...

I found a diabetes management program at the hospital that was covered by my insurance. I saw a nurse and a dietitian who helped me figure out what works for me. My doctor was also clueless. An endocrinologist would know more. I also test on the sides of my fingers, something they taught me.