A Progress Report
My exploration of treatment options for type 2 diabetes
February 2014 — Last October I started an experiment regarding my treatment options for type 2 diabetes, to see if I could do without Byetta or Bydureon after I grew concerned over reports of possible pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer attached to the drugs. As a reporter, I had attended a medical conference where I heard doctors debate the issue and left worried and confused.
After doing some reading and interviewing some researchers, I learned that my fears may or may not be real, but the warnings on the promotional material for the drugs still scared me. I know there are risks you take with any new drug, when there are no long-track records to ascertain possible ill side effects, but I wasn't sure I wanted to be a guinea pig.
After talking over my concerns about the treatment options for type 2 diabetes with my endo — who assured me I was free to stop cold turkey although he felt that incretin mimetics were safe to inject — I dropped the drug and basically never looked back.
Instead, I used a more "natural" type 2 diabetes treatment and worked hard on changing my diet. I cut out breads, pastas, grains, most dairy (I still eat some Greek yogurt), and most fruit (I occasionally eat berries). I also upped my servings of protein and veggies.
Now, after almost four months with metformin and Amaryl and no Byetta or Bydureon, I'm here to report that my most recent A1C was — wait for it — 5.6.
The only issue now is that because I increased my protein intake, I may have overindulged in the bacon and steak pyramid, so my bad cholesterol ticked a tad higher. (It's always something.) So in the New Year, I'm limiting my proteins to chicken, nuts, fish, and egg whites.
The dirty little secret about eating this way is that as long as you keep a lot of variety in your diet, it's amazingly easy. And tasty. I've mastered a million different kinds of omelets (my favorite is egg whites, asparagus, dried tomatoes, low fat Swiss cheese, and a hit of Tabasco sauce) and tried some new recipes, including a yummy shepherd's pie with whipped cauliflower and broccoli in place of mashed potatoes, and roasted Brussels sprouts with olive oil, sea salt, and balsamic vinegar. I've continued my regular exercise of about an hour a day, either pedaling on a recumbent bike or sweating out my killer weight lifting class.
At the start I was a bit cranky, and maybe a bit tired, but overall, four months out, I'm pretty much back to my normal self.
My endo has concerns. He worries that this lifestyle might not be sustainable, and he may be right. Someday I might need to revisit my treatment options for type 2 diabetes, but he could only cheer my A1C number (we high-fived), and he offered to cut down my Amaryl dose (hooray!).
For the moment, I don't miss either the Byetta or the Bydureon. While I have to admit that it was nice losing weight on the drugs (I dropped fourteen pounds during my time on Byetta and only gained back four), for me, the risks were a bit too steep.
And as for using diet change as one of my new treatment options for type 2 diabetes, I guess it proves that you can teach old dogs new tricks.
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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