Sunday, January 10, 2010

Confessions of a Newly Diagnosed Diabetic

Hi. My name is Elise, and I'm a diabetic.
(cue everyone else: Hi, Elise...)

Okay, so I had originally intended to use a different theme for my "come-back" post, but the original theme would be so much better with pictures to accompany it, and since my camera is weirdly spazzing out, I will have to save that post for a later date...

Thus, I figured the next best theme for my return to the world of blogging would be to share the biggest news I've had to share since the RenFest (i.e. since the last time I actually found time to blog): I am a diabetic.

How long has this been going on? Who knows? I sure don't. How did I even come to find out? I have my hypochondria-projecting mother to thank for that. She had been bugging me for a while to get tested for diabetes. I, of course, resisted, insisting that I was fine. All the symptoms she claimed pointed to diabetes I could easily explain away by attributing them to other things.

1. Symptom: I drink a lot of water.
Excuse: I have always been a pretty big water drinker, especially since my mission. After all, we're supposed to drink around 64 oz. daily- I just always want to be sure I get enough and that my system is flushed and clean.

2. Symptom: I use the bathroom fairly frequently.
Excuse: I drink a lot of water- thus, I will have to use the bathroom. And to be quite honest, I never felt like I really used the bathroom a lot more than I used to. I don't think I really had to use it a lot more than most average people... So this was a weak symptom at best.

3. Symptom: I always seem to be tired (this one actually wasn't pointed out by my mother, but it is apparently a sign of high blood sugar).
Excuse: I have been keeping very poor sleeping hours- going to bed around (or sometimes after) midnight, getting up around 5:00 or 5:30 a.m. is not going to make for a good night's sleep for anyone. So of *course* I was always very tired...

Still, despite my efforts to convince her that there was nothing wrong with me, I thought it might be a good idea to at least get it checked out so I could have proof that I was fine.

It turns out, I was not fine (Mom, here is your chance to say, "I told you so.").

In fact, my blood sugar levels and AC1 counts were so high, the nurse I went to for the diabetic education class I had to take was concerned I might develop glucose toxicity.

So here I am, trying to adjust my lifestyle to bring down my blood sugar in the hopes that I can keep my pancreas from burning out so I don't have to take insulin injections for a good while yet.

It is not easy.

The good news is that I don't really have to eliminate anything completely from my diet (sorry, Mom- in that regard, I still say your disease is worse...). For example, I can still eat breads; I can still have sugar and sweets; I can still enjoy a mug of hot cocoa on a cold winter night such as tonight.

The bad news is that I can only enjoy such things in almost severely restricted quantities. Instead of eating a half a bag of mini-Reese's Peanut Butter cups in one sitting, I can eat maybe two after a meal. (I'm telling you, life is rough for one with a sweet tooth like mine.) I also can't fill up on carbs the way I used to (lots of bread and grain-based snacks, like Wheat Thins, a major weakness of mine). I can't drink as much milk as I would like to because every cup of milk counts as a carb. I can't even have fruit as a "healthy" snack because fruits have too much sugar/carbohydrates in them. Which means if I don't want to go hungry, I have to learn to like more veggies. (Hmmm... this may be harder than I thought.)

The other bad news is that I have to test my blood at least once a day, pricking myself with a little lancet and waiting for the terribly fickle test strip to decide it actually wants to take my blood... (which brings up the further bad news of expensive medications and supplies I will have to continually pay for to replenish.)

Still, I suppose it isn't all bad. At least I had already made the switch to sugar-free Kool-aid long before the diagnosis, so I don't have to worry about that adjustment. Also, there are a lot of tasty sugar-free products on the market, which will help me keep my carb count down. It helps that my father has already lived with diabetes for many years so he can give me suggestions/pointers/advice, etc. (I think I drove him crazy over Christmas asking how many pieces of fudge would count as a carb, or how many cherry-nut cookies I could get away with eating...). To help improve my body's functionality (and hopefully improve the way it absorbs glucose), I have become more diligent with exercising, even in the dead of winter. And I really am feeling a lot better, physically- less tired, not as thirsty, etc.

It is interesting how this whole situation has made me much more aware of what I am eating and how I am taking care of my body. The great irony is that this diagnosis has more or less forced me to adopt a lifestyle I had wanted to adopt awhile ago just so I would live more healthy. Well, now I gotta if I don't want a myriad of health issues and complications later on in life. Still, at times, I wonder if I had just started that healthy living when I had planned to, if I might have been able to stave off the diabetes...

So. Welcome to my New Year.