Two good things about these diagnoses and meds happening just before Thanksgiving week is that I could start taking all the new meds one at a time and I had a four day weekend to gauge if there are any intolerable or dangerous side effects. I didn’t have to drive anywhere, didn’t have to even leave the house if I didn’t want to. It was also kind of a blessing in disguise that I didn’t go back to Philly for my usual Thanksgiving festivities with my cousin and his wife. Facing her Thanksgiving spread with a diabetes diagnosis would have been TORTURE.
“Can I have half a slice of turkey and a green bean please?”
“One scoop of green beans?”
“No, just one green bean.”
Now after seeing the doctor two weeks prior, she’d asked me to start limiting my diet: cut out the refined sugars, high fat foods/dairy, more whole foods to basically start working on my cholesterol (LDL was borderline high). Once I saw my A1C levels on my bloodwork and realized that I’d been tootling along for the past three months at an average of 200+ blood sugars (!!! under 100 is ideal), I took the next step of starting to limit my carbs and definitely up my exercise level to at least thirty minutes a day. I got some nice walking sneakers to help as well. I’d try to take two twenty-minute walks after each meal; thankfully the weather has been nice enough that these walks are hardly a hardship, and I found a route that circled me back home rather nicely.
Another thing that helped was the return of my energy! The vitamin D deficiency had seriously depleted me to the point where I had to come home from work and take a NAP just to get through the three hours before bedtime. I hadn’t really given it much thought other than, “Wow, this is weird but I guess it’s my life now,” but when the doc said that the vitamin deficiency (as well as the hypothyroid) might be causing my fatigue, she prescribed megadoses of vitamin D supplements to take twice a week. Within two weeks, my energy returned! I didn’t want to nap so much anymore, so I had the energy to come home and cook dinner for myself. I didn’t want to nap in the evenings, so I was sleeping a lot better at night and it was easier to take my walks after dinner and not feel exhausted.
Yet more things that helped were the advent of technology when it came to health tracking! I found an app that will log my blood pressure, an app that will help track my meds and remind me when to take them, and an app that tracks my blood glucose!
With the diabetes diagnosis, of course, came the need to track my blood sugar. My doc wanted me to only check it once a day in the morning, to see what my fasting level is before I start my day. If I had my way, I’d be checking it way more often, but at least this gave me a baseline. I got a fancy schmancy glucometer that connects to an app via Bluetooth, so it transfers my results directly to my phone. The first time sticking myself to test my blood was a little nerve-wracking, but thankfully easy to handle after that first stick.
So, after two weeks of limiting my carbs (I’m not as focused on the fats/sodium/cholesterol for the moment, but am conscious of my choices), increasing my exercise and taking my meds, I started testing my fasting glucose in the morning when I take my Synthroid. Keep in mind that a month ago my fasting glucose was 195.
Seeing these results that show me that everything I’m doing to get and stay healthy is paying off was super, super gratifying. My feet, eyes, and kidneys are all very pleased with me. If I can get and keep my glucose levels down and under control, my A1C will come WAY down when I get it tested in 3 months. If my A1C comes down far enough, there’s a chance I can cut back on the Metformin. I still have to call my doc and ask if they want me to go up to two pills a day, seeing that my fasting BG is trending this way. I may have to have a bedtime snack to keep my sugars from crashing overnight.
Incidentally, I’ve lost some weight. I had to tighten my Fitbit another notch around my wrist. I don’t see so much of my belly when I wear my dresses. Right now it’s not a concern or a focus at all. What matters are the habits I’m developing to keep me healthier and hopefully eliminate the need for some of these medications.
So that’s where I am health wise. I’m officially on all of my meds on schedule. The side effects have been thankfully minimal. I’m working on getting to see an endocrinologist to hopefully be diagnosed with Hashimotos (thyroid antibodies are SUPER high while everything else seems normal) and keep working on the diabetes.
People have told me that they admire my attitude through all of this, how I’ve immediately adapted to the changes I’ve had to make. The thing is, this has been the story of my life. When adversity hits, I don’t have a choice to do anything else. I have to deal with it, and I do to the best of my ability. In the case of diabetes, if I want to keep my feet and eyes and kidneys, I have no choice but to make these changes and stick with them.
Once I get a handle on these changes and stick with them until they become second nature, then I can allow myself a few indulgences here and there. I’m lucky in the fact that I don’t ordinarily crave sweets, and I’ve stepped away from the salty snacks I usually crave because they haven’t agreed with me as I’ve gotten older. I’ll miss pasta for a while, and pizza, and some of the desserts I love to make, but they won’t be gone forever. They’ll just be treats, enjoyed here and there without gorging myself.
These are things I’ve said before when I’ve tried to do Weight Watchers. Making these changes to adjust the size of my body was not good for me. Making these changes to keep my feet and eyes and kidneys is crucial. The size of my body is irrelevant.
I have a lot to unpack about that last sentence, but that’s another blog post for another time.