You have just been diagnosed with diabetes … Have you picked out a tombstone yet?
Several years ago, they diagnosed me with Type 2 diabetes. I was waiting patiently for my doctor to see me in my waiting area. Just within my distance of hearing, which is quite high, I hear 2 nurses discussing my fate. “He is thinking that the doctor will try oral medication. We know that will never work. He should start the insulin now.” My heart sank with despair. I imagined that my fate is sealed, and I should decide on funeral services and pick out a tombstone. Well. That was far from the case. I talked at length with my doctor at Joslin Diabetes Center who is a diabetic himself. He recommended a nutritionist and talked about the quality of life. I finally realized that quality of life did not mean where you lived, what kind of car you had at all. Quality of life for a diabetic is can you see do you have your fingers do you have your toes or have you lost them because of diabetes. I also learned that diabetes is a genetic trait, and it is in your system. Typically, the diabetes switch is turned on by some event. In my case, I had gained about 80 pounds. Obesity, or as they call it morbidly obese, is one of the quickest ways for a no return trip to being diagnosed with diabetes.
Speaking about that, there are many symptoms that one may have that are a telltale sign of diabetes. Personally, I did not know. Some symptoms most common with prediabetic are:
Frequent trips to the bathroom.
Rapid weight loss without trying.
Sometimes your vision is blurred.
Intermittent tingling feelings of numbness in your fingers and toes.
Often you are tired and fatigued.
Minor cuts and abrasions that are slow to heal.
You seem to have infections more often than in the past.
I always had reasons or excuses. Why these symptoms listed above were part of my daily life, little did I know I was diabetic. It was with rapid weight loss one year near Thanksgiving and I thought it was just some awful food I had eaten. I was told by my doctor “you do not have a virus you have diabetes” which began an incredibly long journey and hopefully you too.
After receiving advice from uncountable numbers of people I decided I need to teach myself what is best for me so I am going to share with you something that you should try if nothing else seems to work.
Foremost, you must understand, realize, and accept what you are eating or refuse to give up. I highly suggest you document everything you eat every day for a minimum of two weeks however, I suggest at least 1 month of documenting. It may take you a little more time, but I also highly suggest that you search on the Internet and see how many grams of sugar that you are eating. Early on they thought with diabetes you could not eat anything that had sugar and so, therefore, do not anything sweet. That is not the case. What we now know is whether you have eaten a candy bar or a cup of rice your body will convert that to sugar. I suggest you use an Internet site that you can trust that will tell you how much sugar a banana has, for example. That answer is about 14 grams. So, when you eat two bananas, you are getting close to the same as ½ of a soft drink with sugar. I use a spreadsheet to track everything for those two weeks so that I know what has the most sugar and try to minimize that. I also photograph everything I eat for every meal. There is a reason why. If you are a type 2 diabetic and a family member is also type 2 diabetic most foods will affect each of you differently. Therefore, you need to document your own food and compare that to your sugar. I used a spreadsheet which was simple for me but maybe too much for most people. I did this for four weeks while I was trying to determine what was best for me. I would check my sugar four times a day, before breakfast, before lunch, before dinner, before bedtime, and it gave me an idea of what was spiking my numbers the most.
This spreadsheet is a simple design and I will put a snapshot here for you. It has the times of your sugar readings and then later I added a chart for my morning for my lunch for my dinner for my bedtime so I could see which areas it was higher and how I could improve that. Because for a few years I would report to my doctor at the Joslin center my numbers each week and sometimes they would comment, but they did not look at the difference between one meal and the next if it were less than two hours. Whatever the reason, it would be off, so I made this chart so they could look at that and see. Mealtimes are important and you must stay on schedule you have to eat at a certain time every day and that will help you maintain control.
Finally, is exercise and one thing that my doctor said to me which made the most sense. You must pick an exercise that you like to do, otherwise, you will not do it. That has never been truer than with me. In the end, I walk a lot, so you must find a way to do that, and I did some weight training. But again, you must find something you like to do, or you will not do it. If you have access to a swimming pool, it is a great exercise, and you can burn off quickly what you have eaten.
I was fortunate to find someone that helps me prepare my meals. It is Vietnamese-style food which normally has less sugar. Because of that alone, I have dropped 33 pounds, and my sugar readings, or as we call them the HbA1c, are amazingly low. My doctor said, “whatever you’re doing, keep doing it!” I imagine that I am forever indebted to her. Mahalo Nui Loa, My Tien!
It is going to take to time to get over the devastating news that someone diagnosed you with diabetes.
It is OK. You will work through this. I know I did. Keep track of everything you are eating at least for a short time and understand what foods have lots of sugar that affect you and your body. Sometimes it will be things you will never imagine. For example: for me, corn raises my sugar and peanut butter. I have siblings that corn or peanut butter does not affect them at all. Know your numbers, know your HbA1c, know your sugar readings when you wake up in the morning because the numbers tell you if you are eating like a pig the night before or at least a sugar pig. It is difficult to hear the news that you're diagnosed with diabetes, but you can work through this I know you can. If you need a starting point, I can send you the excel file I use for tracking my sugar and you can change it to your likings. Find an exercise that you like and stay with it. If you are as fortunate as I am, find someone that can prepare Vietnamese-style food. Angels of mercy come in all disguises. Good luck I know you can do this! DEC