Health management

I have type 1 diabetes. Unlike the majority of people with this form of diabetes, I developed it later in life. Typically, it’s a associated with children, and has been called “Children’s Diabetes”. I got it when I was 25, and a part of me wonders if it would have been better to have had it since childhood. As an adult, adapting to life with diabetes is challenging and I think with  Type 1 it is probably more so. With the more common type 2 diabetes, your body becomes inefficient at processing sugars. Often, you can maintain a somewhat normal existence by studiously watching what you eat. Granted, it’s still a bad condition, and with improper care can be just as dangerous as type 1. However, as I was recently reminded, even a small misstep can be extremely dangerous with type 1.

Things like diet, exercise, and insulin management all have to be learned. Old habits have to be dropped, or cut back on severely. If I had had to learn these behaviors in childhood, management would now be a lot  easier. But oddly, I’ve always looked at this affliction as sort of a penance to be paid for a lifetime of spiritual wrong doing and physical abuse of my body. There’s probably a smattering of Catholic Guilt in there, and it’s ultimately probably not a healthy way to view this disease. On further reflection, I could probably stand to view this less theologically. Overall, it’s another in a long line of lessons in humility I find myself going through as I grow older.

Up to this point I haven’t done particularly well managing my disease. My blood sugars have been consistently astronomical, and I haven’t gone through too much effort to regiment myself with a healthy lifestyle. It’s not fair to say I haven’t done anything; I really have accomplished a lot considering my circumstances these past few years. But it’s often pretty easy to forget that. I’ve always been bad with patience. Taking time to reflect and relax is definitely not the feather in my personality’s cap.

Recently my wife and I moved the furthest from civilization we’ve ever been. We don’t live in the swamp, and we can get to the gas station without wasting half a tank on the trip, but it is out there. And it’s far from all our old haunts: our family, our friends, the bank, the university, the book and thrift stores, and also our doctors. Coupled with the fact of my endocrinologist, who had served as my De Facto general practitioner, dropping me as a patient, we’ve been re-evaluating our health care support system. The summer has been filled with appointment on top of appointment, getting us up to date with our various physicians. Friday I saw my new general practitioner.

We’d had a full lab workup done, and were discussing the results. In a nutshell, they’re not good. My blood sugars were predictibly in sub-orbital flight, and I’ve developing damage to my kidneys. As my doctor put it, I’m too young for this, and it’ll just get worse and more frustrating as I get older.

At his suggestion, I’m adapting a drastically different approach to my health management. He seems pretty decent as far as doctors go, and he helped develop a simple, but probably very effective plan. There’s no more sliding scale for insulin. This means, I will only be taking a set amount of insulin once or twice daily (depending on early results). In the past, I was “supposed” to assess my blood sugars before and after meals, and deal out insulin to cover high sugars, large meals, etc. In theory, this is probably the most accurate and “in control” way, short of an insulin pump, to deal with sugar fluctuation. However, it assumes a certain finesse that can only really be gained through trial and error. I’ve had too much error, and this method just isn’t working for me. Down the line, I hope to develop healthy habits, but for now I essentially need to be forced into a monastic eating existence.

So, I’m now on a strict 1500 calorie a day diet. 2000 when I exercise. Meals are planned, snacks are forbidden. I don’t have an insulin safety net to land on should I decide I want a large bag of Sun Chips and a pack of Peanut M+Ms. It’s kind of daunting, but in a very real way I’m tired of trying to do this on my own. I’m glad my doctor is being forceful and taking control of this situation. Compared to my endocrinologist his methods are not very scholarly, but I’m not working on my doctorate here. Like Calculus, I just want to pass this test and get on with my damn life.

 P.S. Spell check is erroring out on here, forgive me for my sins.


3 Responses to “Health management”

  1. 1 Steve McAwesome
    June 24, 2008 at 1:49 am

    Twitter, sms, web diabetes tracking shit @ http://www.sugarstats.com/
    Now stop begging for comments, fag. 😦

  2. June 24, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Harsh. Hang in there, dude. You need those kidneys.

    BTW, I will be in Brandon this July. Want to meet up? Shoot me an e-mail…

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