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The Diabetes Dialogue
By Karla Hill on June 12, 2012
It was a beautiful Friday afternoon and I was perusing other people’s junk at a garage sale with my special fella when I got the phone call that would change my life. Looking down at the display window, I noted that it was my health care provider and figured they were calling with lab results from just two days ago. I’d needed a refill on my blood pressure pills and the new doctor I’d been assigned wanted to run some lab work to ensure that my medication was still the best fit for me. As it turned out, my blood pressure was great! In fact, it was the lowest it’d been in quite some time so the meds were doing their job!
Yep. Over the phone. While I’m somewhat familiar with diabetes since my mother has had the disease since I was a little girl, everything changes when it’s YOU! Suddenly, my head started spinning. What did this mean for me? Was I going to have to take insulin injections? Was I going to have to use a monitor to check my blood sugar daily? Would I ever get to enjoy pizza again?
For those unfamiliar with this disease, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Type 2 Diabetes says that, “Diabetes occurs when the body fails to make enough insulin, a hormone that helps cells take up sugar for energy and / or the patient has problems responding to the insulin that the body does make. Insulin enables glucose to enter muscle and fat cells, where it can be used as energy and stored for future use in a form called glycogen. Between meals and overnight, the liver produces glucose. Insulin plays a role there by ensuring that the liver produces just the right amount of glucose to maintain normal blood sugar levels.” The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Type 2 Diabetes also says that Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95 percent of all cases of diabetes and that 5.2 million Americans who have diabetes don’t even know it.
The doctor that I’d been assigned by the head honchos of my insurance company did a piss poor job of explaining what my course of action was to be and I believe I was in a bit of shock, so the logical questions (ahem, the ones I mentioned several sentences ago) didn’t pop into my head. She didn’t encourage me to call back if I thought of anything. She didn’t take the reins and tell me what I needed to do except to say, “Take your medicine twice a day and call the dietician to schedule an appointment.” The medicine, it turns out, is called Metformin and it’s formulated to help control the blood sugar. It also makes the patient (at least this patient…) feel like absolute poop! I’d been warned that it could give me severe nausea and that I’d become one with my bathroom. Good news though! Those side effects should only last a couple of weeks. Ugh!
Once I shook the cobwebs from my head and realized that…whoa! This is my life we’re talking about here!…I notified my insurance company about the doctor’s blasé way of notifying me about this life altering disease, and her lack of guidance for my future. I still have no idea if I should be conducting daily blood sugar checks or when I need to return for a follow-up visit. I have an appointment with a registered dietician, though they can’t see me for another 2 ½ weeks. Until then, I’m doing my best to make the obvious changes with no sodas or sweets and minimum carbohydrates. I’m in the process of obtaining an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in diabetic treatment.
Luckily, my significant other is determined to fight this with me and help me be more than just a statistic. I know that it’s not going to be an easy battle. There are days, I’m sure, when I’m going to try to justify eating what I want or not working out. In those moments, all I can do is dig deep and realize that my self-preservation depends on my strength and the choices that I make for myself. After all, choosing to live is going to be the sweetest reward I can give myself.
*Some symptoms of diabetes include unusual thirst, frequent urination, unintended weight loss or increased hunger, blurred vision, frequent infections, and wounds or sores that won’t heal. If you experience any of these symptoms or have a family history of diabetes, please get checked out by your doctor!*
Did you know…?
Diabetes has affected people from all walks of life, regardless of race, age, or gender. Some famous diabetic musicians include: Syd Barret, Johnny Cash, Miles Davis, Mick Fleetwood, Nick Jonas, Curtis Mayfield, Bret Michaels, Ghostface Killah, Mark Collie, and Elvis Presley. Diabetes has also affected the following actors and actresses: Halle Berry, James Cagney, Drew Carey, Carol Channing, Victor Garber, Al Lewis (grandpa Munster was diabetic!), Jackie Gleason, Jean Smart, Paul Sorvino, Spencer Tracy, Elizabeth Perkins, and Mae West.