When Its Time to Take Your Medicine
Latest addition to regimen strengthens resolve to improve health.
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!
July 2007 — When it comes to diabetes, compromise in the doctor's office often leads to compromise at home. Never has that been so apparent than in the past couple weeks. But my story really begins in March 2005.
Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a few weeks before my twenty-ninth birthday was not easy. Compounding the diagnosis was my primary care physician's insistence on writing a prescription for metformin. Instead of accepting the prescription, I accepted the challenge of controlling my diabetes through diet and exercise.
For the next month, as I waited to see an endocrinologist, Greg allowed me to track my blood sugar readings on his meter. (My primary care physician had been quick with the metformin prescription, but not with a blood glucose meter.) Together, Greg and I noticed trends that were helpful to the endocrinologist. Only a month of changes in eating habits and exercise frequency had shown the doctor that I could manage diabetes without the need for oral medication.
Here I am, more than two years after diagnosis. I fully admit to not following the prescribed diet, that I started getting lazy about counting carbohydrates and calories. I hoped that somehow the exercise I was doing was enough to carry me to another excellent A1c, despite faltering with diet. But I knew what was going on with the numbers on the meter. My body was reacting to certain meals differently than it had been and it was not a good difference.
Although my A1c was still excellent, the 100-point spikes in blood sugar after some meals did concern my endocrinologist at my last appointment. We discussed my options, whether to step up my diet and exercise plan or to turn to an oral medication or an incretin. I felt that I had done what I could with diet and exercise, so this time I accepted a prescription for metformin.
Being on metformin has required diet changes. Not only do I have to watch the carbohydrate intake, but I also have to watch fat intake to avoid some of the unpleasant side effects of the medication. This has required compromise when it comes to dinner. No more buttery sauces, no more bacon with my cheeseburgers – but Greg can certainly add those to his dinner if he chooses. The big disappointment for both of us is the negative reaction I have had to spicy food.
Because the metformin acts somewhat as an appetite suppressant, I do not need as much food. As a result, Greg has been making smaller meals, which ends up being good for both of us. It has only been a couple of weeks and already we're both seeing the numbers on the scale move steadily downward.
Just because I have added medication to my diabetes care regimen does not mean that I have given up. In fact, my thought process is the exact opposite. From all the research, I know that type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition. I was losing motivation and not eating well, which caused some undesirable effects on blood sugar. The important thing is that I spoke up to my doctor and that allowed me to make changes that will improve my future health. I have a renewed interest in taking care of myself, which has led to Greg wanting the same thing for himself. Together, we'll move forward from this latest diabetes challenge.
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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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