Friday, June 3, 2011

Living in Diabetes Denial

I was diagnosed with type II diabetes in December, 2002, eight and a half years ago. I immediately lost some weight, but when I saw there was no immediate health problems, I slipped back into my old ways.  This probably happened some time during the summer of 2003.

Beginning in 2005, for whatever reason, I lost a lot of weight on Weight Watchers and my blood sugars went down dramatically. In fact, I stopped taking medicine. (Note, however, my lipid profiles only improved somewhat; my overall score was low, but my LDL was high, my HDL was low, and my triglycerides were quite high). Then, since Weight Watchers is what Gary Taubes called a "semi-starvation" diet, when I quit starving myself, my weight came back on and my diabetes came back with a vengeance. I followed WW religiously from November, 2005 until May 2007. Then I regressed and gained back much of the weight I lost. I just pretended I didn't have type II diabetes and ate what I wanted to eat, without concern about the effects it was having on my body. I guess you could say, I was in deep denial. By May 2008, my blood sugars were terrible again.

During June, 2010, I had an episode of reactive arthritis, which was treated with Prednisone and my blood sugar readings rocketed from the already high range (180-190) to the stratospheric (350 to 450). At this point, I had to start injecting insulin to try to counter the effects of Prednisone. I visited my physician during the fall of 2010 and she put me on a regimen of slow acting and fast acting injectable insulin. This was the beginning of my exit from denial, but I was still partially in denial.

Of course, I was hanging around the 300 to 310 weight range and felt fat, tired, and awful. I was having trouble sleeping and had no energy most of the time. Doing normal tasks, like walking, was getting harder and I started to come to the realization that I would die. I started reading about the complications of type II diabetes and it is not pretty.

In desperation, I started Weight Watchers again in January, 2011. But after four weeks of strict adherence to the program, I had only lost 0.8 pounds, not my normal WW experience. At first, I thought it was the new WW program, so I tried reverting to the old WW program.  That didn't work, either. Then I read a blog entry on that changed my life. The author, Glenn Reynolds, linked to the book, Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes. I downloaded it on a Saturday, February 12, and finished listening to it by the next day. I realized I was not losing weight on WW because of the insulin I was injecting. I now understood, thanks to Taubes' book, that if I wanted to have any hope of losing weight again, I had to get off insulin, and the low carb lifestyle Taubes described seemed like it would do the trick. So I started low carbing on February 14, 2011.

It did. That's why I have started this blog, to share with others who are struggling with weight or diabetes the method that has proven extraordinarily successful for me. I am no longer in diabetes denial; I am off injectable insulin and back on Metformin. I will be weaning myself from that as soon as I lose another 30 pounds or so. My blood pressure fell substantially, within a few days, and my blood sugars are now near normal. My new low carb lifestyle has very literally saved my life.

Now when I know about friends or acquaintances who are diagnosed with type II diabetes, but who are in deep denial, I want to reach out to them and tell them there is hope, that they can control the disease and lead a mostly normal life. A low carb diet is the key. Yes, it requires sacrifice, but it is worth it. But I also realize they must get past denial. The earlier it is treated, the better, before the pancreas is too compromised.

My plea: get out of denial and start dealing with your type II diabetes.

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