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Living with Type II Diabetes

Updated on October 31, 2012
International Diabetes Symbol
International Diabetes Symbol | Source
Slit Lamp Examination
Slit Lamp Examination

Living with Type II Diabetes

In 1979, I learned that I had Type II diabetes almost by accident. I had always worn glasses since I was eight years old. Then over a short period of time, my vision began to get somewhat blurry and I had trouble reading small print. I decided to see an ophthalmologist to find out what the problem was.

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After a brief examination, he asked me if I was diabetic and I told him that I didn’t know. He then said that I had cataracts in both eyes and since I didn’t have a regular doctor, he gave me the names of three different doctors and told me to pick one, which I did.

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By this time I was certain that I had diabetes because my mother and two of her eight sisters had had it too and I had been ignoring the symptoms for awhile – unusual thirst and more frequent urination. I guess I thought that if I ignored them, they would go away, but they didn’t.

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I had already begun cutting back on food to try to lose weight because I weighed well over 300 pounds at that time. I went to see the doctor and he quickly confirmed that I had diabetes and high blood pressure and he put me on one of the only diabetic medicines available at that time, diabinese, and a diuretic for my high blood pressure

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The details of how I lost 125 pounds over the next three years are given in my series of Hubs, The Elimination Weight Loss Diet. This article will concentrate on what I did to control my diabetes over the next 32 years. Needless to say, losing 125 pounds was an essential part of it.

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One of the biggest problems in controlling blood sugar levels in those early years was the lack of accurate, reliable blood sugar testing at home. All that was available then were test strips for your urine. They were yellow and they started to turn green when your blood sugar level got near 200. Below that level you were only guessing.

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Another problem was that my choice of treatments at that time was limited to one class of medication and insulin. I chose to delay taking insulin as long as possible and I managed to get by until 2011, nearly 32 years.

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It is common knowledge that the longer you have Type II diabetes, the less insulin your pancreas produces so that you require larger doses or different types of medications. I was fortunate in that new classes of medication were invented just about the same time that I reached the maximum dosage of the ones that I was taking. From diabinese I progressed to glucotrol and next I added glucophage.

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Finally I added on avandia which actually worked extremely well in combination with the others. I was on avandia for several years before I reached the maximum dose, and all of the warnings about potentially serious side effects caused me to replace the avandia with 20 units per day of insulin. I continue to take the glucotrol xl and glucophage too.

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It is my intention to write a series of Hubs about Living with Type II Diabetes based on what I have learned over the passed 32 years. For now, let me provide a list of things you should do if you have or suspect that you have type II diabetes:

1. If you have any symptoms (unusual thirst or frequent urination), or if you are overweight or have a family history of diabetes, see your doctor and get checked. If you catch it soon enough, you can get diabetes under control before it does permanent damage to your health.

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2. If it is determined that you have diabetes, get a blood sugar (glucose) tester and test your fasting blood sugar each day first thing in the morning.This is normally the best, most consistent time to monitor your blood sugar so that you don’t over control.

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3. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions and consider getting a referral to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of diabetes. I found that many general practitioners really don’t understand diabetes very well and sometimes give bad advice. When in doubt, see a specialist.

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4. Stay off of insulin as long as possible. Over 30 years taking oral medicines, I recall only one or two episodes of low blood sugar. Once I added insulin, I often had 3-4 scary episodes a week until I made a number of adjustments and even then, I have to be extremely careful at all times.

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5. See an ophthalmologist and tell him that you are a diabetic. If your blood sugar is not well controlled, it will probably show up in eye problems first, most likely cataracts.

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6. If you are overweight, begin to gradually lose weight. Losing weight is one of the best things that you can do to get your blood sugar under control. The Elimination Weight Loss Diet series provides you with detailed information on how best to do this.

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7. Resolve to eat meals at regular times and don’t skip any. Most diabetic medications are best taken with or just before meals. With some insulin, you have to eat within 10 minutes of taking an injection. The more regular your mealtimes are, the easier it will be to control your diabetes.

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8. Record and chart your fasting blood sugar. It is much easier to see patterns if you graph or chart your blood sugar readings. I will be doing an entire Hub on how best to do that.Consider including a moderate amount of exercise daily.

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9. Moderate exercise helps to lower and control your blood sugar level. However, be aware that severe exercise can lead to low blood sugar and it can occur quite suddenly. Since I added insulin to my medications, I carry glucose tablets with me at all times.

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10. Learn about diabetes, types of medications, side effects and potential health problems linked to diabetes. You know more about your own body and how you feel than your doctor does. Ultimately you are the one who is responsible for taking care of it. The more you know, the better you will be able to make decisions.

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Over the next few months, I plan to publish a series of Hubs covering specific topics in more detail.

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Blood Glucose Testing

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    • rjsadowski profile imageAUTHOR

      rjsadowski 

      6 years ago

      Early symptoms include unusual thirst and increased urination. Any vision problems should be investigated. If your parents have diabetes, you will want to have a gloucose tolerance test which can help detect pre-diabetec condition.

    • Ruchi Urvashi profile image

      Ruchi Urvashi 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Great article. Even my parents have diabetes and since young, I take care of my eating habits. It is good to know the symptoms early, so we get diagnosed early and start the treatment as soon as possible. Good information. Thanks for sharing.

    • rjsadowski profile imageAUTHOR

      rjsadowski 

      6 years ago

      You are right about which foods have the largest effect on blood sugar levels. Sugar raises it the fastest, but it also comes down the fastest. Foods you might not expect to cause long term elevation but do are rice, popcorn and other starches. Protien seems to have the least detrimental effect. Stay tuned.

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 

      6 years ago from Citra Florida

      Hey RJ

      Thanx for this, I'm looking forward to the series. I was diagnosed about 2 years ago with type 2. Since then I am getting my weight under control and lowering my sugar level. Currently I am around 130 in the morning and that's down from 200 last year.

      I've been fortunate with no symptoms besides blood glucose levels but finding out which foods have the largest effect is a long term chore. I find that plain sugar, (sucrose) has much less effect than starches like white bread, potatoes or pasta.

      Voted up and useful

    • rjsadowski profile imageAUTHOR

      rjsadowski 

      6 years ago

      Thanks and don't worry about it. Even if you have Type II Diabetes, it is easy to treat. There are many oral medications available today and as long as you take them regularly, watch what you eat and monitor your blood sugar once a day, you should see little or no difference in your life.

    • stayingalivemoma profile image

      Valerie Washington 

      6 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

      Good information. I just had my bloodwork done last week to check for diabetes. Don't know yet. Will keep my fingers crossed.

    • rjsadowski profile imageAUTHOR

      rjsadowski 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for your interest. Even if you are diabetic you can live a normal life if you do a few basic things. I intend to take much of the fear and mystery out of Type II Diabetes. As Rooseveldt once said, " There is nothing to fear, but fear itself".

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      6 years ago from USA

      I'll be looking for the rest of your articles. I am just borderline, but I know I have to watch it.

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