In Which We Make a Difficult Decision
Diet and Exercise or Using Insulin?
By Kathryn Foss
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
October 2009 — I have spent the months since my daughter was born obsessing about insulin, or, more specifically, the lack of insulin in my life. The dreaded ‘drug holiday', which my doctors forced me to go on, seemed to be dragging on forever and my fasting numbers were creeping ever higher.
Well, I finally had my doctor's appointment and we did the little in-office A1c test and it came back at 6.9, which was high enough for him to approve me using insulin
again! I was beyond thrilled! My beloved Insulatard, in its little green pen, was going to make a glorious return into my bedtime routine, right in between the moisturizer and the fish oil capsules! I was a happy girl! So as I skipped out of his office, (well, I didn't skip in reality, it was more of a mental skip), I envisioned falling fasting numbers and, if I'm totally honest, a bit more pasta. I couldn't wait to call my husband and share the good news; it was as if I had won the lottery.
And that's when my mental skipping slowed to a stroll. My excitement suddenly seemed a bit disproportionate to the reality of using insulin. Why was I so excited about injecting myself again? "Was that normal?" I asked myself, "Probably not," I answered. I determined that a little soul searching was in order, but the searching needed to be quick because there was a dirty diaper to be changed and a hungry mouth to be fed. And that is when I suddenly understood. It was because of HER. She had changed everything. ‘She' being my new daughter. Having her in my life had changed my perspective without me even knowing it.
Now, I'm no spring chicken and facing the reality that I will be a 40-year-old mom to two children (let's cross our fingers) under the age of 3 is a daunting thought. The thing that has changed for me over the last 3 months is that suddenly it's not all about me. Suddenly I have to be a good example for somebody else. Suddenly my choices will make an impact on another little life.
Suddenly I had to make a difficult decision. As a type 2 diabetic I have the luxury of not being insulin dependent. Using insulin or an oral medication to control my diabetes is a choice. The drugs help my body to utilize the insulin that I am already producing. My pancreas is working hard to do its job and it's up to me to make that job as easy as possible. To that end I realized that I needed to make some lifestyle changes like never before. How can I raise my little girl to eat healthy, whole foods if her mom doesn't? How can I raise my little girl to keep her body strong and in shape if her mom doesn't? Quite simply, I cannot.
So, only two days after being given the green light to start using insulin again, I decided not to. I decided that I was going to do everything in my power to normalize my blood sugar naturally. Whatever it took. And for me, that means getting active to reach my ideal weight and that means readopting my low carbohydratelifestyle. That means being disciplined, which has always been such a challenge for yours truly. Undisciplined as I am, I decided if I am going to take oral medications or insulin, it is going to be because I have tried to manage my diabetes in every other possible way to the best of my ability. It will be as a last resort and not because I was too lazy to do the hard work.
Then, about 2 weeks into my hard work, I got a letter from my doctor. My blood work had come back from the lab and as it turned out, the in-office A1c test was wrong. My A1c was not 6.9. The blood work showed it was 5.9! For the first time in 3 years, I had the A1c of a non diabetic. He congratulated me and then told me to please stop taking the insulin immediately. It was a heady moment. It was an empowering moment. As I stood there with that letter in my hand, that letter that said my blood work was normal, I felt free. Free from all of the diabetic labels and from all of my preconceived ideas, and just like that, I set about redefining who I am as a diabetic. And for today, I am Kathryn, the diabetic with perfectly normal blood sugar.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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