Posted by: JulieAloha | January 12, 2012

Diabetic Disaster

I’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes for over 10 years – I can’t pinpoint the exact time because I seem to have suppressed the memory (traumatic, maybe) – I remember getting really scared and doing everything my doctor told me to do – I read Sugar Busters II (highly recommended), changed my diet completely, began an exercise regimen, checked my blood sugar consistently and began to see great results . . . for about six months . . . aaand then I started feeling better aaand I started slacking on the exercise aaand began checking my blood sugar more and more infrequently aaand stopped checking in with my doctor. The next thing I knew it had been five years and it took another medical emergency to get me back to the doc – major ingrown toenail + infection + diabetes = in-office minor surgery and diabetic wake-up call.

Aside from a few emergency dramas, things seemed to be fairly under control for a long time, I checked my blood sugar intermittently at best, but it seemed to tick along between 120-145 – not great, but not terrible; I lost over 60 lbs over the years; I had occasional minor twinges from the beginnings of nerve damage, but no serious neuropathy yet and I took care to monitor my feet, teeth and eyesight – trouble spots for diabetics . . . Enter 2011. I explained in a recent posting how the year began falling apart early on (see Christmas Eve, Seattle). I was sick with colds and flus, bronchitis and pneumonia for much of the Winter/Spring, which adversely affected my diabetes. When a diabetic is sick or in poor health, their body is less able to control insulin production and regulation and at the time I had not begun taking meds to help control my blood sugar. So as my health decreased my blood sugar began rising, my body producing too much insulin, but not converting sugars to energy to feed my cells, which made it more and more difficult for my body to recover from illness. I began to feel numbness in my feet, neuropathy setting in, and I was often short of breath and overly tired. I felt more and more stress, just trying to keep up from day to day, which contributed to the downward diabetic spiral. Stress is generally difficult to deal with, but for a diabetic it can be extremely debilitating; it plays a more direct role in the control of blood sugar than in any other disease. Stress causes the body to produce adrenaline and cortisol on a chronic basis which can have disastrous effects on the body and brain. It is thought to contribute to the pathology of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, the spreading of cancer, and immune system problems. Stress causes diabetics to lose cognitive ability, the ability to think straight, make decisions, you feel foggy and are slow to respond. Chronic stress in diabetics also contributes to anxiety and depressive disorders. I lost more and more control, bursting into tears at the drop of a hat, spending entire weekends in bed depressed and exhausted, and my world reduced to a limited routine of going through the motions. I began to have unusually hard, fast heartbeats, sometimes waking from deep sleep to my heart slamming 130-150 beats per minute, which would last for hours. I went to the ER a few times, had a couple EKG’s, and it all came down to diabetes, stress and poor health. My doctor put me on Metformin to help my body regulate the production of insulin better, I got serious about diet and exercise again and I saw a slight improvement in my health in the Spring. And then . . .

Everything came to a head during the summer when the general day to day stress was put into high gear by a conflict at work. I spiraled out of control, unable to reduce overwhelming stress at work, prone to acute anxiety attacks and long periods of debilitating depression, rapidly increasing neuropathy in both my feet and hands and decreased vision and cognitive function. Having pushed myself past my limits, trying to make it to the end of the summer, my doctor ordered me to stop work immediately for fear of utter collapse. I began taking additional meds to control cholesterol as well as meds for high blood pressure, brought on by, you guessed it, stress. I began seeing a counselor to gain some control over the emotional whirl I existed within. Slowly, over the last four months, despite ongoing stress from work and, unexpectedly, from some co-workers, I’ve clawed my way out of the tsunami inch by painful inch. Diabetes still looms over every aspect of my life, my feet still ache from neuropathy and stress is still a presence to be faced and fought, but I see signs of improvement as well (as does my counselor, thank you, Lila!). I’ve learned more about the disease this last year than ever before – and a lot about myself, my capabilities, strengths and failings. At my last session, I told my counselor that last summer I had gotten to the point where I didn’t know if I would be able to continue, I didn’t think I was going to make it, but now that I know I have survived, I feel more capable of withstanding the storms ahead. I don’t expect things to be easy, in fact I expect them to be difficult, but I’ve found that I can face the future, diabetes and all.

-Julie


Responses

  1. I had no idea you were going through so much. XXOO

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    • No one did, my friend, I pretty much pulled back and shut down for awhile. The blogging is also helping me confront my demons. Thank you for being so supportive – it truly helps!

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  2. This is an absolutely brilliant post. Thank for commenting on my post so I had the possibility to find you blog! I’m diabetic type 1 since 1997 (diagnosed right before I turned 7), and despite type 1 and 2 having some differences I now realise how many vital things that actually are similar. How the personal life affects you blood sugar, the vital importance of a good diet and exercise. How much we have to fight in our every day life to have a good living over all, to not spiral down. I’m glad to hear that you seem to have find something that works (even though not always follow through 😉 ) that you have find the means to fell better. You are a fighter and seems to be doing absolute everything in your power to feel good and you have all my respect for this. Keep fighting my friend, it will always be worth it. xoxo

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