When Travis Met Type 2 Diabetes
There are no guarantees, but there is always hope.
By Travis Grubbs
January 2008 — "Travis, when did you find out that you were diabetic?"
I looked at my pharmacist, who was reading my prescriptions for my diabetes medication, and responded, "Counting today?"
"Oh, so you are still in shock" (It was not a question).
"Yes I am".
That day in May 2006 began my journey into the world of type 2 diabetes - a world filled with glucose meters, lancets, test strips, a daily log book, blood sugar readings, A1Cs, medication, and major life style changes. Oh diabetes, you rocked my world. I, at the age of 43, was no longer normal.
I did not want to have to check my blood sugar multiple times a day, watch my diet, take diabetes medication, etc. I didn't ask to have type 2 diabetes, but I didn't exactly bar the door. I had been overweight all of my adult life and I knew that diabetes ran in my family (both of my parents had diabetes). I have always been at risk, and now that chapter of risk was over and a new one of diagnosis was beginning.
My emotions were in turmoil. I was depressed about my condition, resentful that I had to make life style changes, and yet I could feel the determination building that I would make major changes in my life and lose weight.
To start this new chapter I left my pharmacist and went shopping. I just could not go straight home, so I went shopping for tools for the workshop that I had been procrastinating about building in my garage. This was an excellent time to start this project because my beloved wife was safely tucked away at work and was not present to offer any objections. (Sometimes it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.) When I arrived home with my newly purchased drill press and scroll saw, I remembered that I had a recently purchased case of beer in my refrigerator. To prove my resolve to lose weight to myself, I promptly donated that case of beer to a grateful neighbor.
As days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, I created a simple strategy to lose weight. I eliminated my intake of beverages that contained calories, reduced the size of my meals, and reduced my calorie intake by changing my eating habits (no more snacks late at night). Since May of 2006, I have lost about 45 pounds. I did not plan to lose a large amount of weight in a short amount of time. I know people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes that quickly lost a lot of weight only to gain it all back again. That was (and is) not in my plan. I continue to make adjustments to my eating habits. There is an upside to being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I have gotten smaller. And I have discovered that I really like it when people stop and exclaim, "You have lost weight!"
My wife, my mother, and my doctor have been very supportive. My doctor even called me late one afternoon, a few days after I was diagnosed, to inquire about my blood sugar readings. He did not criticize me when I told him that some of them were above my maximum limit, but he did encourage me. He also explained to me that genetics plays a role in one being diagnosed with diabetes, and that being overweight increases the chance of a diagnosis at an earlier age (like me at 43). This information helped me to stop blaming myself for my type 2 diagnosis.
I am determined to take care of myself and manage my diabetes. My doctor has informed me that even if I maintain my blood sugar within prescribed limits and maintain a healthy weight, I may still suffer from poor circulation, kidney problems, eye problems, and other complications. I am determined to reduce my risks as much as possible. There are no guarantees, but there is always hope.
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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As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...