Diabetes, Simple Information for Type-2 Diabetics.
I originally wrote this article in 2011, and judging by the number of times people read it, Diabetes is obviously not a popular subject.
But, I feel that, as a Diabetic, I needed to share my Diabetes experiences as well as what I have learned about how to live my life the best I can.
So, I have gone through this article and "cleaned it up" as best I can, deleting some older data and adding some other interesting facts. I now think it is a more readable article and is still a valuable source of information for novice Diabetics trying to get their life and health under control.
Diabetes? OMG! What do I do now?
My case is a little bit out of the ordinary, but overall everyone that I have talked to seems to react the same. This can't be true!
We all drop into that standard mode of; "Not Me! I'm invincible"
You know: "This stuff happens to other people, and I am special, I can' t possible be just an ordinary person ........... Can I?
I mean, I'm special, and thus I am immune to these petty diseases and illness' of Mortal people. I'm special, Dammit!"
I was Just one Rare Disease away from death!
Well, people, we all might be special, but we are definitely not immune to the normal vagaries, failings, and yes, diseases that everyone else is susceptible to.
I learned this in 1993, when I went from a normal and healthy male animal to having a disease that was, at the time, 95% fatal, called Wegener's.
I survived the disease, but I lost most of my Kidney function, and to keep the story short, I ended up with a transplant in 1996.
Since then, I have been pretty diligent in keeping myself informed on things that can affect my Health and of course, my Life.
In today's world, this is surprisingly easy with the existence of such powerful tools as the Google Search and Bing Search engines.
I simply search for information on whatever subject I desire, and once I have narrowed my search adequately, I am staring at a virtual Cornucopia of information on foods, diseases, exercises, and almost anything that I need, to improve and at least maintain my health.
So, the first recommendation that I can give you is to, take the time to do the research and be able to speak intelligently with your Doctor. Not as a Doctor, of course, but as an informed patient.
If you have a computer, and access to the web, there is really no excuse for not being a very informed patient/person.
A Diabetes Guide book for newly diagnosed Diabetic
When I was diagnosed as being a diabetic, this was one of the first books I purchased to learn about my new disease. I recommend it to every diabetic.
Diabetes, a Side Effect of my Life Saving Drugs
I finally "developed", "came down with", whatever you want to call it, Diabetes about twelve years after I had my transplant. And, when it hit me, I had no clue what was going on.
For me, it was a combination of; undeserved weight loss, a constant thirst, a lack of hunger, and a "fuzzy brain" that were my major symptoms.
OK, Fuzzy Brain is not what you would call a technical term, but it is my best explanation that I can give of how I felt. My thoughts were fuzzy.
It was as if my thoughts were slowed down, and that my mind was not as clear and decisive as it normally was.
I would hesitate and have to think and rethink about what I wanted to say, because it seemed that I just couldn't pull it all together into a coherent thought/idea/statement.
The best thing I can compare it to is if you have had 2 beers and a tranquilizer, and then you want to make a point to someone but keep searching for the right words.
Anyway, this all happened when we were on a long trip in our RV to the Grand Canyon and back. It hit me over a couple of months and when I finally returned home, and saw my Doctor, he quickly ran a Blood Sugar test on me, and of course the verdict was ...... Diabetes.
It turned out that with most transplant patienst, over time, your anti-rejection drugs tend to reduce your Kidneys capability to handle the sugar in your blood.
So, many transplant patients, it seems, eventually end up with at least Stage-2 Diabetes.
And? Well, it was my turn, it seems.
Anyway, I did what I have done so often in the past, I hit the web, and went into the "learn mode" on this new challenge to my health.
Now, I have made a lot of stupid mistakes along the way. But after several years of constant blood testing on myself, I have finally learned a lot about this insidious disease.
I now recognize my symptoms when they occur. Then I figure out the most probable root cause, and then I take the appropriate actions to keep my health stable, specifically my Blood Sugar level.
Knowledge of YOURSELF, your problems and critical facts
For me, I had to go through a step-by-step management program that suits me and my lifestyle. That's just the way I am. I just have to understand what is going on, and then I feel more comfortable in developing a plan that I can follow.
You see I distrust Doctors. They really are smart people, and, several of them have contributed to my still being alive today, so, of course, I have a lot of respect for their knowledge and dedication to their craft.
But, there is an important lesson that I have learned in my brush with death then, and my wide range of experiences with a wide variety of Doctors over the past 17-plus years.
As a patient, you always need to remember two things about Doctors,in general;
1- DOCTORS are human and they are just as prone to mistakes the same as you and I.
2- When DOCTORS "hang out their shingle" as the old saying goes, even they state that they are starting their PRACTICE of medicine. Practice, my friend practice.
These two truths help me keep my perspective on my Doctors, relative to their work.
You gotta love them and you have to use them, but ....... I suggest that you maintain your jaded perspective when you are trusting your life to anyone;
That includes; Doctors, Nurses, Aides or anyone else that works in the health field, and around or on you, personally.
When it comes to your health or life, you should give your trust out sparingly, and only when earned, especially when dealing with the overworked health care world of today.
Always ask lots of questions, and make them take the time to tell you what you want to know whatever they are doing, and if it doesn't sound right to you, stop them and if necessary, ask them to bring their superior and explain things to you to ease your mind.
All too often most medical professionals only know what they see in your chart or in your folder, and they have very little specific information about you, the one lying there in the hospital bed..
Make sure that they KNOW YOU.
A book of Low-Carb Diabetic Recipes
This is one of my favorite recipe books designed for diabetics and I search through it often for something new and safe for me to eat as a diabetic.
My DIABETES and the exceptions I make, both good and bad.
Anyway, back To my Diabetes.
Here is what I have evolved into as a Diabetes monitoring and management system, that works for me.
Is it what your Doctor will tell you to do?
Are the things that I do for myself the best for you or anyone else?
I do not presume to say or imply such.
I am just saying that I, personally do these things for my health, and they are a combination of; my decisions to live a healthy life just as my Doctors want, and my decisions to compromise on some constraints in order to still live a good life, like I want.
My compromises? They are actually relatively slight, but they are compromises. I admit this, but I do not apologize.
In the end, I found long ago, that life must be enjoyed, as best you can, and living a healthy but miserable life is unacceptable. At least it is To Me!
There must be simple pleasures that you can taste and savor at times. This is what makes life worth living, and no disease should take over your life to such a degree as to make you miserable.
Carpe Diem, people, Carpe Diem!
Your Bodily Symptoms and what they might mean to the Diabetic
Here are some things that I have learned and I use to Manage MY DIABETES. Are they right for you? I can't really say. All that I can say, again, is this works for me. So, here goes.
Know your BODY!
That's Right! It is a pretty basic thing, but, if you want to live longer, you must get to know your body.
By this I mean that you need to recognize and understand the signals that your body is sending to you.
Of course you recognize the common body signals, like; hunger, pain, soreness, headaches, and so on. Everyone recognizes these signals.
What you need to do next is learn the more subtle signals that your body also sends to you. Here are some that I recognize, and I have learned, generally what these signals are telling me.
If my Urine is a dark yellow and has a strong smell, then shame on me.
This generally means that I have not had enough water that day, and I am overworking my Kidney that is trying to flush the impurities or toxins from my system.
You see, the Kidneys need water to flush these toxins and the less Water available in your system, then the harder the Kidneys are working to keep you healthy.
If my stool is vey hard, and hard to pass, and also if I am not having at least one bowel movement a day, then several things could be the culprit.
Usually, I probably have not had enough water, but another contributor could be that I may not be eating balanced diet with adequate levels of fiber in my foods.
One of the TV Docs, had another Health Guru on his show recently, and one thing he mentioned was that if you eat normal meals, and only have one bowel movement a day, then you will have, on average, 3-pounds of waste still in your bowel.
If you only go every 2-days, that number goes up to 5-pounds of Waste hanging around in there.
And you non-Poopers out there?
When you don't go regularly, you feel like Crap (pardon the Pun) don' t you?
That' s because you are not getting rid of all of those poisons in your system, fast enough.
And, really, don't rush to the toilet and start pushing so hard that you end up with a bad case of bleeding hemorrhoids, or worse.
If you're eating right, and your body is functioning properly, your bowel movements should flow easily,without you forcing it.
Probably the best combination of habits to develop for good bowel movements are; eat less meats, eat more vegetables, eat more foods with high levels of fiber, drink lots of fluids daily, and, take the time to sit there and let a bowel movement happen naturally.
Me? I take a crossword puzzle with me and just sit there and relax for a while. Eventually the problem works itself out. (I just can' help myself. LOL!)
Natural Diabetes Control reference book
I purchased this book and although i am not doing everything it recommends, I have used it to learn a number of new lifestyle skills that help me control my health
Clarity of Thought
This one is a little more subtle to recognize changes, but your head should be clear and your thoughts easy to form.
I have found that if my waste systems are working properly, as mentioned above, and I am easily distracted from what I am doing at the moment, or, if I am having to concentrate harder than normal on the task at hand, then my Blood Sugar is probably too high or low, or as is generally the case with me specifically, too high.
I have become so conscious of these changes now, that often I can catch it at an early stage, and I can react and eat a piece of candy or sometimes, for me, even a piece of something rich in protein, and within 10-30 minutes, my head noticeably clears and I am back to normal.
When I exercise or even just go for a walk, I try to keep a small candy bar, or even a piece of peppermint candy on me for just such occurrences. Be prepared!
You are using those eyes of yours every day, and they get tired, itchy, and these are normal symptoms even for a healthy person.
For us Diabetics, we suffer the additional potential problems of accelerated worsening of our eyesight, and even the development of cataracts, along with, in rarer cases more radical eye problems.
So, many of us will have these symptoms and additionally, we can get "fuzzy" vision at times. Often this also can also be traced to blood sugar levels that have shifted out of the normal range, or as with me eating an unbalanced diet.
Other Bodily Symptoms
Of course, there are many other symptoms you can read from your body, but many of them are very hard to recognize and manage.
But, if you start to increase your awareness of how your body is acting and responding during the day, and are curious enough to analyze what you might have done to your body to cause the change, then you will often learn the root cause.
And it too can be things like; too much food, unhealthy food, rich foods, high Glycemic Index foods, not enough water, drinking alcohol, even not sleeping well. And More!
Other Health Actions a Diabetic can Control
A Balanced Diet
I cannot stress enough that you, as a Diabetic, can control one thing, yourself. and, it is up to you to do this.
You must try every day to eat a balanced and healthy diet. Some things might not be under your control, but what you eat is the one thing that you can and must control. Here are a few tips;
You should take a Multivitamin designed for Diabetics every day. It is one of the simplest things that you can do for your overall health, and they are cheap. You may even find that you have less colds, and body aches, just by taking a daily multivitamin.
Pick one that is formulated for your sex and age, as these are usually designed with the appropriate combination of vitamins, etc, for you.
As I have mentioned, Fiber keeps things flowing in your bowel, and you need to get an adequate amount of fiber each day in order to get rid of all of those bodily poisons that are a natural part of your body's waste process.
Blood Sugar Measurements and what they mean to you
Measuring your Blood Sugar - Regularly! Yes, you do have to take these measurements, and you need to take them often.
So what if you feel good today.
That has nothing to do with what your Blood Sugar is doing right at that moment. You need to keep measuring and recording your Blood Sugar, whether you like doing it or not.
Normally, I am a bad patient and I will only take a morning reading and an afternoon or evening reading, unless I feel strange.
But, once a month, I will take a lot of measurements (5-6) a day for at least 3 days. This gives me and my Doctor a good sampling of what my Blood Sugar is really doing under a range of circumstances, such as; before a meal, and after a meal, before and after exercising, before bed, and so forth.
Myself, because I have an iPhone, I have several applications on it that I can use to record and track my food intake, weight, blood sugar, and nutrients, easily. I highly recommend a smartphone and such applications to people that are concerned about their health, and are also, like myself, lazy.
When I eat something, I just enter the data, and I get a running history of my weight, my exercise calories to date, my allowed and consumed Calories, Sugar, Fat, Carbs, etc.
The two main Apps that I use are; "Glucose Buddy" which is a tool for recording your Blood Sugar levels, and "Lose Ut" which is a tool for managing your Sugar and other food nutrient intake. But there are many others available on the iPhone and on the other SmartPhones..
These Apps happen to be my favorites and are great tools for me as a Diabetic!
Well, with a little perseverance on the web, you can find adequate tools for tracking the same data and many are even free. You just have to look.
Eating TIMELY FOODS to control your sugar level
Diabetes does change your life, and more specifically it changes your eating habits. You need to try to keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel throughout the day.
The problem is, this is not a normal state for your body.
Maybe once, when our ancestors were "grazers" on the Savannah's of Africa, when they spent the whole day searching for food, and eating as they grazed, this was true, but not in our modern world.
Our lives today are more structured, and we try to eat at scheduled times of the day, but in reality, we often eat whenever we can, and we often skip some meals altogether.
Our bodies, though have this nasty habit of processing what we eat to their own schedules. And, generally we humans have an empty stomach within 2-hours or so, of eating.
So the stickler here is that we eat at a designated mealtime, and after about 2-hours, the food is gone from our stomachs. And, this is when our blood sugar tends to drop.
We get a peak when we eat, and then it drops between meals. See the problem?
Because of this drop, most doctors recommend that you not just eat 3-meals a day, but that we eat at least 5-6 smaller meals a day, or every 2-hours or so.
This practice tends to keep a diabetic's blood sugar on a more even keel over the day, without those swings from highs after eating to the inevitable lows after digestion.
Are You a Type-2 Diabetic?
Are you a Type-2 Diabetic?
What is the Glycemic Index for Foods?
Here is where I need to mention the Glycemic Index of foods. What is it?
Well, simply put, different foods, besides having different levels of Sugar (Glucose) are also processed by our bodies at different rates. The standard Glycemic Index used today places pure Glucose at an index number of 100, with all are foods on a scale from 0 to this maximum of 100.
Typically, low GI foods have an index number of 55 or less, while high GI foods have an index number of 70 or higher, with some foods falling into the middle range.
Ideally, you want to eat meals that are a combination of both Low and High GI foods so that your peaks are lower, and at the same time, the Low GI foods will keep your Blood Sugar from changing too soon after eating.
So, understanding this added complication about foods is another essential part of planning your meals.
Management of your Blood Sugar for Life.
Tools for Diabetes management
So, here you are, sampling your blood sugar, categorizing your foods by several important constraints, and eating almost continually through the day.
It doesn't take a great cognitive leap to realize that you need to do all of this and now you must also manage your potential weight gain.
This is, again, why I went to a couple of iPhone Apps that monitor and manage all of this for me.
You need to learn how your body works, what it likes as well as what it dislikes. You must learn how to trade one food for another, and when. And along with this diligence, you must take a long view on the results.
By that I mean that, at times, your Blood Sugar will just "go to Hell" so to speak. You will have done nothing out of the ordinary, but the reading you have just taken is abnormally high or low.
Accept the fact that this will happen at times, and that the averages of your reading are what counts, in the long run.
And occasionally, and I do mean occasionally, give yourself a treat, a nice slice of your favorite cake or whatever suits your fancy. It will raise your sugar for a few hours maybe but it will also probably save your sanity, in the long run.
In Summary, learn, manage, adapt, and still enjoy your life. Diabetes, specifically Stage-2 diabetes, is not something to fear, but something to control as you go through life.
What is Type 2 Diabetes
Healthy Food Choices for High Fiber
How to follow a Low Glycemic Index Diet
© 2011 Don Bobbitt