So apparently it's dblog day. I really need to get more involved in the diabetic blogging community - but somehow this blog doesn't like me to add links. I keep trying, just to people I know, (non-diabetic) and some diabetes blogs I read occasionally. It always freezes - but I will admit I haven't looked into it too much - I just go "AAAA! It froze again!" and move on.
So the topic is: 6 things I wish people knew about diabetes. It will be Type I specific because that's what I deal with. Here goes!
1. I DID NOT CAUSE THIS. IT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN PREVENTED BY A BETTER DIET, MORE EXERCISE, ETC. I get asked by a lot of people if I used to be fat, and that's what caused this. Nope. Just "lucky". Even with Type 2, there is often a genetic link, and while some of Type 2 is definitely lifestyle, that never tells the whole story. NEVER. Do not assume someone has diabetes because they were lazy or ate too much crap. We don't like it, and it's not true.
2. I am thinking about diabetes basically, all the time. That's what we do. It's not always in the front of my mind, but it's always there. I have to plan my meals, my exercise, pretty much everything around my blood sugar. If someone says "hey, let's go here" I have to think about how that disrupts my routine. Will it mean I have to skip a meal? If so, I better bring plenty of snacks - does it mean I will be exercising more? If so, I have to adjust my dosages accordingly. I don't mind disrupting my routine, and I'm happy to "go here" with you, but I have to think about it. It's annoying.
3. The enemy is not sugar. It's ALL carbohydrates - and not all carbohydrates are created equal. Handing me a piece of "sugar-free" cake means you're giving me something filled with refined flour and Splenda. Refined flour = carbohydrate = sugar. Sugar= I need insulin to eat that. People don't get this, including medical personnel - I've been in the hospital where they gave me food but wouldn't let me take insulin because they wanted to administer all my meds. Fine - this meal would require 2 units - can I have 2 units of Novolog please? They wouldn't give it to me, either, because my pre-meal sugars were fine. Well, OK then. I can't eat this. Carbohydrates require insulin. Period. Even fat and protein eventually require insulin - but not as quickly.
4. Yes, technically, I can eat what you eat. But I don't. This will vary from person to person, of course. Some diabetics will bolus (take extra short acting insulin) for whatever. I find that most desserts do not warrant the pain in the tuckus it requires to eat them. I have to give myself an extra shot, or take extra at the meal and then make sure I eat dessert while the insulin is still in effect, and then monitor my sugars carefully. If I go too high, I have to give myself another shot later to bring them down, or if I gave too much insulin, and go low, I have to eat fast acting sugar (candy, juice, etc.) to bring it back up, and then hopefully I didn't eat too MUCH candy and send it too high, causing a horrible cycle. But yes, I can do that. I've often heard people say "so what if you go high - can't you just give yourself a shot and you'll be ok?" Well, yes and no. Because the blood sugar swing is bad, and I hate the way it makes me feel. Going high and then dropping quickly is not a fun sensation. Going low is terrifying. It's so much easier - for me - to pass on the brownies, thank you.
5. Things that raise blood sugar: too many carbs, not enough insulin, stress, adrenaline, certain medications, hormones, sickness, the list can go on and on. One thing I have definitely learned is that nothing in the body exists in a vacuum. Everything is connected. Things that lower blood sugar: insulin, and exercise. Exercise is great because it makes you super insulin sensitive, they call it "invisible insulin" and it can help you control your sugars better, as it continues to boost your insulin sensitivity for hours afterwards. (Some people can go high with exercise, though, and then drop. It's weird.) However, since exercise can lower sugars quickly, I must be careful about when I exercise (I try to do it 2 hours post meal, if possible) and how much I exercise, and pay close attention to how I feel while doing it.
6.This disease makes no sense. We try, and try, and try, to force rationality onto it, but a random high or low reading can show up when things have been completely normal. It makes me really really mad, since I am working my butt off to keep things as close to normal as possible, but nope. Weirdness. I am trying not to let the bad readings tick me off too much, and I am failing miserably at it. However, I am always willing and happy to talk about it. Questions do not bother me. In fact, you might get an earful when you weren't looking for one. I am still relatively newly diagnosed, so there's still quite a bit I don't know, (i.e. I don't know a lot about pumps - I've never had one) but I like to talk about it - let people know what it's like living with a disease like this.
And finally - if I ask you for candy - give it to me NOW.
There are so many other things I could talk about, what going high feels like, what going low feels like, the emotional adjustment, the increased doctor's visits, the cost, but hey. I've got to stop somewhere, right? Happy diabetes awareness month!
(Other blog posts can be found here.)