I read an article in Freshly Pressed this week entitled ‘Portrait of a Diabetic’.
After reading it, I was stunned.
Not because of its content, but because of the food restrictions the Author has in leading a ‘normal’ life.
My knowledge of Diabetes is extremely limited, and to my shame, I had no idea of the extremes this disease can have on individuals.
In 1977, I was taken into hospital (the first time in my life EVER) with some ailment they never got to the bottom of.
My first night, I awoke in the early hours to find a woman standing at the bottom of my bed staring at me. She was stark naked and covered in blood where she had ripped out all of her intravenous tubes and monitor lines.
My call button was not answered, so I got up to get help, passing her slowly as I had no idea what her next action would be. The two nurses on duty came to her aid, putting her back to bed and securing the cot bars in place before re-attaching her to the machines.
The next morning, there was an empty bed opposite, and I was informed that she was a diabetic and they had ‘got her diet wrong’.
My maternal grandfather and an uncle on that side were both diabetics, but the family was unaware of it until after their deaths. A relative by marriage (and a heavy smoker) lost both legs because of Diabetes.
My mother was diagnosed as Type 2 many years ago.
She is on medication but is mainly controlling it with diet. She is sensible with what she eats, tries to get some exercise, has regular check ups and has her feet checked by a chiropodist several times a year.
When I was a First Aider at work, I was surprised that we didn’t need to know if any members of staff had Diabetes.
One of my immediate colleagues was Type 1, and he filled in the gap when I asked if his was diet controlled or injection. He had insulin injections and told me that in the event of his collapse, a Mars Bar and can of Coke would sort him out, just to make sure it wasn’t of the diet variety! Some Type 1 sufferers are the other way, and too much sugar works against them.
I felt it was important to know the difference.
An eighteen year old girl who played on our darts team was eventually diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes having lost a lot of weight for no apparent reason.
But it is still a grey area for many, including myself, and how it affects people so differently.
Balloons narratives, top and clockwise:
High Blood Pressure
High Fat and cholesterol levels
We quit smoking in 1991, don’t drink alcohol (although this isn’t mentioned) and exercise the dog two or three times a day. I have always had weight issues and had had problems with my feet for a while, so knowing that other family members were diabetics and having read that this could be a symptom, in 2011 I made an appointment at the doctor’s surgery to get myself checked out.
When the results came back, I was told I have Border Line Type 2 Diabetes.
The Nurse said that in short, my body is making insulin but not enough to control my body sugars. I had always believed that if you cut down on sugary foods, this would help solve the problem. This is not the case.
Every six months, I have a check up with the Diabetes Nurse.
She takes blood (after having fasted for 12 hours beforehand) , weighs me, checks my blood pressure, and I always ask what my sugar levels are.
I took a copy of the above chart for my Food Diary, and so far my sugar has stayed between 4 and 5.
For my age, my blood pressure is good. I have a garlic capsule every day as I read it was good for it, and sometimes sprinkle cinnamon on top of my cereal because it’s supposed to help deal with body sugars.
My weight is 13 kilos lighter than it was 3 years ago having already lost a lot due to our lifestyle change since 2007. It was intentional anyway, and I still have a fair bit to lose, but I’m getting there!
My cholesterol is higher than they’d like though, but I am not in favour of taking the suggested Statins because I have read a lot on the internet and in the media about side effects and potential damage to other parts of the body.
I have also spoken to a lot of people on them, and most comments are not favourable.
THIS IS MY PERSONAL PREFERENCE.
My cholesterol level varies between 5.8 and 7, the same as it was 20 odd years ago, and if high cholesterol is hereditary, Statins are unlikely to make any difference anyway.
I have my eyes tested by the Optician every January. They now include a retinal screening as part of the process for everyone, not just those with Diabetes, though my eye tests are now free because I have it.
Also around May every year, the surgery send me a screening date for the same test, though drops are added for their version, and I cannot drive for at least two hours after the test. My eyes sting, the light hurts them, and this time I felt dizzy every time I looked down, so our walk in the woods afterwards was aborted as Maggie wouldn’t leave my side as I sat in the car.
I am on no medication whatsoever.
I try to eat sensibly with a variety of foods, though I am sure my sugar levels hit the roof, if not went into orbit, after our Chinese meal the other day (we’re still eating light by the way) .
I still have a sweet tooth, but provided there are high levels of cocoa in it, I can have chocolate, and it doesn’t have to be marked as specifically for diabetics.
Everything for me is in moderation, so I don’t have to avoid or miss out on anything, nor do I have to be anxious about hidden ingredients in meals out having an adverse if not violent effect on me.
Having read this article, I realise just how fortunate I am.
Diabetes is not to be dismissed or treated casually. If you are in any doubt, make an appointment with your GP to get checked out before it becomes a major issue.