A New Challenge

July 20th I was officially diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic. It still feels weird to say out loud. No one in my family is diabetic. I proceeded to experience the stages of grief as this was extremely shocking. There is no cure for this disease. I will have this for the rest of my life. If my blood sugar goes too high I could die. If it goes too low I could die. No one knows why my pancreas stopped working. Perhaps it’s genetics. I am insulin dependent with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) attached to my body. Let me just say I hate needles! However, at the same time, I am grateful to have them and all the supplies I need to manage this disease.

How did I find out?

I was having multiple severe leg cramps every night for a month. I made an appointment with my GP doc and he sent me for a full blood panel. My glucose level was 398 and my A1C was 10.6. A normal glucose level is 70- 140 and a normal A1C is below 5.5. I would have ended up in the hospital if I hadn’t gone to the doctor. It turns out I have Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA). My pancreas has slowly been giving out over time and I didn’t know. Yes. There are warning signs like extreme thirst, frequent urination, vision problems, mood changes, fatigue. I had these warning signs for a long time, probably over two years. In fact I went to the eye doctor in March of this explaining my vision issues and she said my prescription hadn’t changed. As a woman mood changes and fatigue are not unfamiliar and as someone living in Florida it didn’t seem too abnormal to be thirsty a lot. The warning signs were there, but I would never have suspected diabetes.

What did doc say to do?

First, I have to say I like my endocrinologist. He’s straight forward and answers all my questions. Oh I have a lot! He prescribed me long acting insulin and told me to take six units a day. He told me to monitor my blood sugar levels using the CGM, which is an incredible invention. Without it I would have to prick my finger 8 times a day. Before using it that’s what I had to do for a couple of weeks and it sucked. My fingers were bruised. It stung every time.

What did I do?

I made some changes. I took away a some things that were causing me stress. Stress raises your blood sugar! I didn’t know that until recently. I increased my exercise and made a workout schedule for myself. Yoga has been and continues to be a big part of that. I have also enjoyed getting back into running.

As per advice from a different doctor, whom was so nice to talk to me, I started a paleo diet. This wasn’t that hard to switch to considering I love a colorful plate and rarely have dairy. With a paleo diet there’s no grains, beans, or dairy. The hardest part was snacking. I was used to grabbing pretzels or triscuits. I have found new snacking options like crunchy peppers, cucumber, carrots, etc. I even made my own paleo friendly fake cheese dip! It was yummy. It is important to note that I haven’t stopped eating my square of dark chocolate every night. It makes me happy. Do what makes you happy.

I started taking bitter melon supplement. This is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat diabetes. It is used to keep blood sugar levels balance. I have always been intrigued by Ayurvedic practices and liked what I have read. I thought why not try a combo of eastern and western practices?

What changed?

I went to my doc in September and my A1C was 6.5! I felt like a student who just aced an exam. He said, ‘I can check here you are stable.” Yes! Apparently, I am doing ok at managing my blood sugar.

But am I? I have constant urges to check numbers. If I go high I have increased anxiety. I am losing sleep waking up with low blood sugar alarms. Those alarms are loud, people! It jolts you up. I keep an applesauce pouch by my bedside. The new anxiety I have over food and numbers is overwhelming. Some days I feel like I am losing, failing. I am learning a lot about how my body works and reacts to different things at different times. Sometimes my levels are high and I haven’t eaten. Sometimes they’re low and I ate a lot. Thanks a lot, pancreas. It is all a stressful learning process. One that I wish I didn’t have to go through, but I am grateful to the loving support from family and friends.

My Support Network

My family and friends have been amazing to say the least. I found the social network created by Beyond Type 1. It makes me feel normal to see other people with the same struggles. I reached out to JDRF and met two people through the organization who were very supportive. I also joined their social media group. JDRF has an incredible service where they will send you a box of stuff when you are newly diagnosed. I received a box with stickers, informative literature, a book, a water bottle, and more!

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