My Victoza Journey
By Carol King for diaTribe
Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2003, Carol began using Victoza in mid-2009 after approved for use in the United Kingdom. The FDA recently approved Victoza in the United States. For more detail on the launch of Victoza and its effects and side effects, see NewNowNext diaTribe #20.
When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2003 I was devastated. I am a qualified nurse and knew precisely what this diagnosis could potentially mean for my future health. I had visited my General Practitioner, as I was feeling so dreadfully tired and thought that I had hit menopause, so to be told I had diabetes was a real shock. I had had gestational diabetes when pregnant with my third child in 1991, but it had never been followed up.
I was prescribed an oral medication regimen of metformin and glipizide for my blood sugar, simvastatin for my cholesterol (although my cholesterol levels have always been relatively low) and lisinopril for my blood pressure (which was approximately 155/95, slightly on the high side). This continued thereafter for the next six years. During this period my A1c fluctuated from up to about 8.4% to 7.9% at its best. I tried to lose weight, eat healthily, and perhaps do a little exercise, but to no avail. I lead a very busy life, with three children, one grandchild, a husband who works away all week, and a very busy full-time job as a lecturer at a local college. I felt I was not achieving anything other than drifting along with my diabetes care.
I have a very supportive primary healthcare team, made up of my own GP; the lead GP within the practice and my diabetic nurse. She suggested to me last July that I may like to consider a different approach to my care. We had briefly discussed the possibility of insulin injections, but more as a future consideration. I wasn't keen on this really – I remember feeling that insulin is almost the beginning of the end! I realize this is not entirely rational (as a qualified nurse), but this was how I felt.
It was suggested that since Victoza had been permitted for use by NICE in June 2009 that I may consider this. My nurse explained that there may be some side-effects; I read up on it too and felt that it may be something that could help me. I started on the lowest 0.6 mg/day dosage for about two weeks and moved onto the middle 1.2 mg/day on August 24th (clearly a significant date as I remember it so well). At first with both the lower and the higher doses I felt really nauseous and had a huge headache, but I felt I had to persist. I therefore decided to administer it at night when I went to sleep – so I would not be aware I felt sick! It worked.
I immediately started feeling better; stopped thinking about what I could eat all the time; could no longer eat more than I should (eyes vs. stomach); decided that I needed to increase my exercise from zero to something and started walking 30 minutes/day. At first it was painful. My leg muscles ached, but I persisted and soon was able to do my 30 minute circuit in 20 minutes. I also started paying attention to eating the right foods – more fish, vegetables and less carbohydrates. Essentially now I almost eat no bread, potatoes, cake, etc. I am more inclined to eat a fruit salad rather than sweet things (not that I have ever been a prolific sweet eater – a little chocolate now and then is fine). I believe I saw that I was feeling better and that encouraged me to pay more attention to the things I could control.
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Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...