After being diagnosed as a diabetic the end of January, I began researching everything I could to learn about the disease and what I could do to help myself. I went through a period of writing down every morsel of food I ate and documenting every food value in terms of calories, carbs, fiber, protein, fat, and cholesterol. I stressed over getting only a certain amount of carbs and staying below a number the nurse gave me for daily cholesterol. This was so tedious and became a nightmare, where I couldn’t find anything to eat that satisfied me. And my blood sugar still fluctuated, though it did come down.
In mid March, I attended a diabetes education class. Being with other newly diagnosed diabetics, we shared our experiences, diet, and exercise plans. This helped me to take the fear out of what I ate and look at it more as a balancing carbs through the day. Keeping to about 2 carbs per meal, and keeping my portions within the allotted guidelines, combined with daily exercise really helped with stabilizing both my mental health and my numbers.
However, this less stringent method, made it easy for me to “forget” to log the food I ate. I even decided it wouldn’t be bad to slip off the stringent diet plan and splurge on a small fast food cheeseburger and a deep fried fish meal with broccoli. Yeah, my numbers were up after that “treat.”
What I’d like to let people know is diabetes is a silent disease. Even if our numbers are decent, we still have the disease. It doesn’t go away. It is a chronic, lifelong disease, that without control can be very life threatening. I don’t want to lose any toes or feet. I don’t want to give myself insulin shots. But many people do and depend on their medications and insulin to be the controller rather than make a lifestyle change with food and exercise.
Without medication, my numbers would be much higher, I’m sure. Without the exercise, my numbers would be much higher. I’ve lost a total of 17 pounds and that goes a long way toward lowering my blood sugar. Food plays a very important part. I must not loose sight of the need to write down what I eat at each meal and for snacks. I have to choose foods that won’t raise my blood sugar quickly, and I have to balance the complex carbs I eat throughout the day.
Family and friends probably won’t understand. They know people with diabetes who eat whatever they want, so they will think you are being overly cautious if you avoid certain types of food. Each person is different and each person’s body will react differently to specific foods. We must learn what works for us, and remain diligent, but not let tracking consume us to the degree I did when I first began this journey.
I still have mornings where my blood sugar is higher than my target number. I have what is called the dawn phenomenon where my liver compensates for the lack of food (and nighttime sugar level drops) by producing more glucose. Since my pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to compensate, my morning numbers are high until I eat. I’ve read where taking vinegar tablets at night can help, so I’m going to experiment with that.
In the meantime, I can’t pretend I’m not sick. I have a chronic disease. It’s called diabetes. It can be life threatening if not kept under control. I may feel wonderful, but the silent disease is still there.