The July 4th weekend is normally supposed to be a fun and relaxing weekend for most people. The 2010 weekend started out for me that way. I went to the 4th of July Celebration in Delano, Minnesota and having a great time with my then girlfriend. We get back to my apartment and I started experiencing chest pains. I reach for my Nitroglycerin pills and discovered they were crushed to powder. I had to make a trip to the emergency room. We arrive at the Buffalo Hospital emergency room and the doctors felt the situation warranted further evaluation and transferred me to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. They did not find anything serious with my heart, however, they did a check of my A1C and saw that it was extremely high. I was diagnosed with having Type II Diabetes. It pretty much ruined my weekend. I was at the hospital in a place and I was still new to Minnesota. They kept me in the hospital for 2 nights for evaluation and gave me some basics on the disease and that it is manageable. I received a glucose monitor and instructions on how to use it. They also gave me dietary rules to go by and set me up with a physician to place me on the medications needed to help combat Diabetes. The one thing I learned about having Type II Diabetes is that I didn’t know anything. It affects each diabetic differently and it is something, though manageable, takes a while to have under control. I was prescribed Metphormin and Glipizide to help get my blood sugar levels lowered and under control. I also learned about, and still learning, two extremes called “spiking” and “crashing”.
Spiking is when your blood’s glucose levels go to a level above 200. A glucose level of 250 is cause for concern and action is needed to get the levels down as soon as possible. If the glucose levels go above 300 your organs start failing and shutting down. going above 300 may mean a trip to the hospital, especially if you have had this level more than an hour. Crashing is the opposite of spiking. It is when your glucose levels go below a manageable level. A normal glucose level is in the range of 75 to 100. If you a “newbie”, newly diagnosed Diabetic, this is not a level you need to be at until your glucose levels have been more consistently between 120-150. If your blood sugar is at 65 or lower, you are crashing and if not treated as soon as possible, can lead to you going into Diabetic Shock or a Diabetic Coma. Neither spiking or crashing are not good but they do happen. When you are a newbie, crashing and spiking will happen frequently. If your job involves physical activity you need to keep a close watch on your glucose levels. It is generally a good idea to keep some juice, candy, and crackers on hand in the event of a crash. It is also a good idea to take some sips of a sweet beverage to keep your blood sugar levels up. Another item to get is glucose tablets. They can be purchased at any pharmacy and they will help get your glucose levels up. One bit of warning, the glucose tablets are a “quick fix” and you need to get something with fructose or sucrose in it to prevent further crashing. Crashing and spiking could mean a trip to the emergency room if not treated and even the possibility of death. If you are scared, it is ok to be scared when your blood sugar levels rise or fall outside the manageable levels. Do not be afraid to call your doctor or a nurse if you are having trouble getting to a manageable level. They will help you. One thing to remember is that though Diabetes is a disease that you can manage, it does take a while to have it under control. This is something I am learning and experiencing and I am learning when and when not to call or go to the emergency room.
Medical advances and research have made great strides in helping people combat the disease with some success. Type I Diabetes used to be called Juvenile Onset Diabetes and means that people who have this type are insulin dependent and must take insulin along with any other medications their physicians prescribe. Type II Diabetes, which is what i have, used to be known as Adult Onset Diabetes and those with this condition are not insulin dependent. Having Diabetes used to mean if you were diabetic you had to avoid all sugar and alcohol except when you crashed. Research has proven that this isn’t always the case. One thing they are finding out is that Diabetics have to eat on a regular basis to keep their glucose and insulin at manageable levels. There have also been new medications released on the market in recent years. There are also the old standbys as well. For Diabetics dependent upon insulin, there are new methods of receiving their insulin. In the past it was almost a given that if you were needing insulin it came in the form of injections. There are now pumps that will test your glucose levels and give you a monitored dose of insulin that is needed. Another method of taking insulin is through nasal inhalers. There are, however, also some people and times when you have to take injections. There has been advances in the injections in how much and some even only require one injection compared to having to take several shots at once. There are new medications that are constantly being tested and awaiting FDA approval. There is also hope in finding a cure for diabetes as well.
A recent study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center did an experimental surgery on Diabetics where strip was placed between the Medulla Oblingata and the nerve that runs along that part of the brain. The study showed that many of the diabetics on medication prior to the surgery either were able to reduce their dosages and some were no longer needing their medications. There has also been some experimenting with Gastro-bypass and lap band surgeries that saw some Diabetics go into remission of the disease. these surgeries and findings are still new and further research is being conducted to find if these methods are proven over time and are as effective as the early findings have shown.
One subject that always comes up with diabetes is diet. It used to be a rule of thumb to rule out anything sweet or had sugar if your were Diabetic. Now they are finding that is not necessarily the case. One important thing to do when you are shopping for groceries is to read the labels. The main thing you need to look for is on the nutritional information panels of the products you buy. Checking the sugar content, calories, and carbohydrates per serving. One also has to read the products’ serving sizes. Another wise thing to do is to read the ingredients labels too. This needs to be done to make sure there are no ingredients that will conflict with your medications. Being from Louisiana, I love my cuisine from the Bayou State. Many of the foods, like Gumbo and Jambalaya, are loaded with large amounts of things that are not my best friend in combating Diabetes. I have learned to cut my portions in half. This will reduce the amount and also helps in losing weight. Desserts can be a tricky subject. One easy thing is to pass them up all together, however, you can enjoy some desserts. If your blood sugar levels are in a manageable level or running a little on the low end it is ok to have a slice of pie or a scoop of ice cream. This is not a good suggestion for every day or every meal. If you have Diabetes, you need to make sure you are managing your glucose. Drinking alcoholic beverages need to be approached with extreme caution. Mixing alcohol with some medications can have serious reactions when mixed with alcohol. Alcohol drops blood sugar levels, thus you could cause your body to crash. The best thing to do is to eat a full meal before drinking or while drinking. Another wise thing to do is to limit your consumption to one or two drinks. Getting drunk is dangerous to anybody, it is even worse if you are a Diabetic.
If you are like me and a Newbie, you are not alone in having Diabetes. There are many famous people who are Diabetic and lead normal, as normal as you can with Diabetes, lives. American Idol judge, and record producer Randy Jackson has Type II Diabetes and has been an advocate on teaching others on how to manage the disease. Wilfred Brimley is known for his commercials talking about his disease. Rocker Brett Michaels has Type I diabetes and was part of the reasons he had his serious health issues in the middle of 2010. Chicago Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler was diagnosed with Type I in 2008 and is the starter for the Bears. Jim “Catfish” Hunter helped pitched the Oakland Athletics to three World Series titles in the 1970s while being a Type I Diabetic. Former NBA Journeyman Jerry Stackhouse is also Diabetic. Many of people in the world of politics also have diabetes. Former Arkansas Governor, 2008 Presidential candidate, and Fox News host Mike Huckabee has lived with Type II Diabetes since he was Governor of Arkansas. He has stated that if he had not lost over 100 pounds he probably would not have lived as long as he has. United States Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor is a Type I diabetic and has been sitting on the nation’s highest court since being nominated by President Obama in 2008. Retiring CNN talk show host Larry King was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes in the mid-1990s. The list of celebrities also include Halle Bary, Earnest Hemmingway. Tony Bennet, and many others. there are websites dedicated to famous people who have Diabetes. Legendary Country Musician Johnny Cash had Type II Diabetes and was attributed to his death. His Daughter Roseanne Cash produced public service announcements after his death to promote Diabetes awareness.
Diabetes is a condition that can kill its victims if left untreated. Amputation of the feet and toes can happen. Vital organs can shut down. Kidney Dialysis is something that could happen if you are Diabetic and do nothing. There is hope for the disease. Some people do not find out right away. They may have been given ample warning years in advance and ignored those warnings, like I did. Some people go in for treatment of another condition and find out and some are born with the disease. There is research constantly being done to find new and more effective and efficient ways of battling the disease and there is hope for a cure. If you are diagnosed with Diabetes, you are not alone in feeling depressed about this sudden change in lifestyle that you have to make but you can also do something positive about it. Managing the disease will not be done over night. I am still in the process of trying to have my Diabetes under control and my body is adjusting to it. I have my good days and my bad days but I plan to have it under control and I am working to do so. It is not an easy task and some times i will backslide but that is common. The disease affects everyone who has it differently. Some cases may be more severe than others and how it is battled depends on the Diabetic and their doctors. Remember use your head and you can successfully combat Diabetes.