Life Changes: Learning to Live with Type 2 Diabetes (for now)

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I am having trouble remembering which finger I used last; which finger was pricked with a needle to test my blood sugar. It has been more than a few weeks now, but I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

Shock, anger, and even disbelief were my first reactions. Looking at the symptoms for Diabetes, I had none of them. My soda intake wasn’t terrible (maybe two a week). In fact, I am eating better than I ever have (unless you count the candy that has been introduced at work).

Diabetes Symptoms

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Slow wound healing
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling hungry (even though you are eating)

I had gone in for a routine doctor’s appointment. I needed some refills on medicine. Happened to mention that I have been losing weight for awhile now (about 10-15 pounds). The doctor started panicking, looking over past blood tests I’ve had, and then looks at me:

“I don’t want to alarm you, but I think you have Diabetes.”

We finished up my visit, and I was sent to go have blood work taken without fasting. I walked away trying not to panic.

The next morning, at work, the doctor called me:

“Your A1C tests, average blood glucose levels for past 3 months, are really high. You have Diabetes.”

He went on to throw out a bunch of medical jargon. Something about my liver being surrounded by fat, diet changes, and how he thinks I can be off medicine in 2-3 years. Never was checking my blood everyday talked about nor slowing ramping up the Diabetes medicine he called in for me to take. Once the shock, depression, and FEELINGS wore off, I made some phone calls. Had my doctor’s nurse call in a glucose meter.

Photo by Kate on Unsplash

Stabbing Myself

The evening I first tried lancing myself, I was soaked in a puddle of sweat. No matter what, I couldn’t press the button! Suddenly I was flashbacking to summer camp in high school. I remember waiting in a long line for the rope swing. I waited all this time in line to ride, got to the front, and I couldn’t do it. My fear of heights kicked in. So I stepped off the swing platform. Although their faces are fuzzy, I can still remember having to walk past the other kids waiting in line. Pure shame. Not being able to push the button on the lancing device, I went to bed. I had dreams about needles and woke up to pray many times. My anxiety threatened to swallow me as I lay there in the dark.

The next morning, I woke up exhausted. As I headed towards the kitchen table, where the glucose meter and lancing device were, I could feel my anxiety kick into a new gear. Thankfully, Tabitha started making breakfast. The smells of food cooking proved to be the motivation I needed. I finally pushed the button, tested my blood, and I went on with life. Not a big deal. Funny though how small things like momentary pain keep us from doing things.

Moving Forward

At this point, I’ve given up things like soda. I see my soda intake / liquid intake in general as something I can easily control–hello water!–. I am learning a lot about sugar in food.

HINT: Sugar is in EVERYTHING!

I am also learning not to freak out when my blood sugar levels vary from day to day (in this case, when they go up). I am trying to focus on collecting what I see as personal data points to a much larger picture. The medicine I’m on, Metformin, has been horrific. The side effects of dizziness, weakness, and nausea, early on, were very hard. I still have moments, but I can tell that my body is getting used to the half dose I’ve been taking (the doctor wants me on more).

Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash

Since my diagnosis, I have learned that Diabetes runs in my family far more than I ever knew. I have also realized that this is not a death sentence. Checking my blood sugar, everyday, isn’t that big of a deal. I know that some have to check it far more that just once a day. What I need to do though is come up with a system as far as which fingers I use to test:

  • Left Side of Index Finger = Monday
  • Right Side of Index Finger = Tuesday
  • And so on

I am relearning that life can be trucking along, we think we have everything under control, and then something happens. In my case, my body decided to ambush me. But cutting back on sugar and watching what I’m eating (food, portion control), even more so, aren’t such bad things.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8:28 (NLT)

Full of It

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My intestines won’t stop moving. I feel like a punching bag. The sides of my stomach hurt. I have no idea why. Living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is debilitating.

The first time IBS found me was in elementary school. I remember running around the house, clutching my stomach, screaming. My parents didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. A few uncomfortable medical procedures later, nothing.

High school was an IBS nightmare. The thing about IBS is that it can sneak up on you in a moments notice. Forcing you into an immediate posture of porcelain throne worship. I remember a friend telling me that it was all in my head. That I was the one causing it.

I remember a distinct feeling of wishing I could transfer my IBS to someone else. If they could only feel what my body does to me, they would know that I am more of a hostage to something far bigger.

The Apostle Paul talks about a thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians. I have always related to that.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

I have wondered if God gave me IBS as a way to keep me humble, focused on Him. In times of an attack, I pray for God’s strength to get through those moments.

My thorn in the flesh is not visible nor is it logical. I can’t tell when it is going to come and visit next. But I have learned to notice when my body is tightening up; I have learned that exercise helps reduce stress. God has taught me to rely on His strength when I have none. I just need to rely on Him when I am running at full capacity.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:10

Game on, dear friends. Game on.

Real Men Cry

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My son is in kindergarten. Founts of almighty wisdom are usually dropped on the playground. I can’t imagine what he is learning, but last night he gave me a glimpse into what he is processing.

After a bit of wrestling on the couch, he looked at me and said, “crying means that you are weak.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“Oh, so-and-so at school says that.”

I quickly told my son that real men cry, that crying is not a weakness. Heck, I told him, even I cry.

Our conversation ended just about as quickly as it had began. I just wanted to make sure that my son knows that crying does not unmake a man.

**Just as a side note, on this blog, I am not going to refer to my son by his name. I would prefer to protect it.