Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Diabetes Meme

The blue circle symbol used to represent diabetes.Image via Wikipedia
I know I write more about my chronic pain, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. While they have taken the spotlight over the past six years, they aren't my first chronic illnesses. No, my first 'official' chronic illness was type 2 diabetes, diagnosed in January 1999.

So in the interest of giving some equal time to all my chronic illnesses here on my blog, I am completing this diabetes meme, just like Amy of Diabetes Mine and Kerri of Six Until Me (two great diabetes blogs, by the way.)

What type of diabetes do you have?

I have type 2 diabetes.

In this type of diabetes, the pancreas makes insulin, but the body is having problems using insulin to shuttle sugar from the blood into the muscles. In response, the pancreas makes more and more insulin trying to overcome this insulin resistance. At a certain point, the pancreas can not make enough extra insulin to compensate for the insulin resistance and blood sugar levels soar. It is at this point that the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is given.

It is thought that my chronic Hepatitis C infection is the catalyst of my type 2 diabetes. Researchers in Australia have found that having Hepatitis C 1) increases insulin resistance in muscles and 2) causes those with the genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes to develop the disease decades earlier than those without Hepatitis C.

When were you diagnosed?

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in January 1999 ... almost 12 years ago.

What’s your current blood sugar?

My current blood sugar is 96. (Yeah!)

What kind of meter do you use?

I LOVE the Bayer Contour USB meter! I recently switched to this meter because it is compact and easy to use: no coding of the test strips, small blood sample size and it connects via the USB port on my computer so I can download and analyze my results.

How many times a day do you test your blood sugar?

I test about 3 times a day. I always test every morning when I get up. I test after one or two of my meals daily to check a postprandial reading. I occasionally test before I go to bed. I also test when I am not feeling quite right. When I start a new treatment or I am sick, I test more often to monitor my blood sugar more closely.

What’s a “high” number for you?

1) Any fasting blood sugar over 140 and 2) any blood sugar over 180 two hours after a meal is high for me.

What do you consider “low”?

While 70 is technically not low, I don't feel very good when my blood sugar gets this low. I think the lowest reading I ever had was a 60.

What’s your favorite low blood sugar treatment?

I like the orange-flavored Dex4 fasting acting glucose tablets. Sure, I could eat candy or drink a regular Coke, but these tablets work fast and are easy to carry in my purse. Since I only use them for low blood sugar, I don't have to worry about being out of them when I really need them because I used them as a snack.

Describe your dream endocrinologist.

My dream endocrinologist is my doctor, Dr. Anne Peters. What make her so great is that she listens to me and understands how complicated my health is. Since she is a top expert in diabetology, she knows all about the medications in the pipeline and won't hesitate to switch me over to something new if it will help me manage my diabetes better.

What’s your biggest diabetes achievement?

Getting my blood sugar under tight control, which I have learned is the combination of the right medication, smart and balanced eating and exercise. With my chronic pain and chronic fatigue, the exercise component of this equation has become much more difficult in the past several years and I have come to rely on medications more.

What’s your biggest diabetes-related fear?

Developing complications, like eye, kidney or nerve damage or having a heart attack or stroke.

Who’s on your support team?

My endocrinologist plus the diabetes educator and nutritionist in her office, my primary care doctor and my husband make up my diabetes support team.

Do you think there will be a cure in your lifetime?

I'm not sure there will be a "cure" for type 2 diabetes.

There is a genetic component to the diagnosis, but I don't see there being a gene-based treatment for it any time soon.

I think that better prevention efforts that focus on identifying people at risk and getting them to eat better and exercise more are the key to combating type 2 diabetes. It would greatly help if we could create global norms about healthy eating and make fast food = healthy food.

What is a “cure” to you?

No more death and disability because of type 2 diabetes.

The most annoying thing people say to you about your diabetes is…

People make assumptions about what I can and can't eat when I say I am diabetic. What I try to teach them is that I can eat just about anything, as long as I balance my meals between fats, proteins and carbohydrates. So yes, I can eat something with sugar in it.

What is the most common misconception about diabetes?

I think the biggest myth is that eating sugar causes diabetes.

If you could say one thing (or three) to your pancreas, what would it be?

I'm sorry you have to work so hard because my muscles are so insulin resistant. I appreciate all your efforts to help me get back into blood sugar balance. Please don't give out on me!


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