As I had said in an earlier blog, I have interviewed many friends and family members. This next interview is with one of my family members who has to deal with diabetes every day of her life. She is definitely a strong one and doesn’t let diabetes stop her from living because she is constantly doing races and making fond memories with her family. I am proud of my cousin!
As I have said before, I will not be giving away names in my posts. For this interview, I will simply call her L.
- What Type of diabetes were you diagnosed with?
L: I have Type 1, which is autoimmune diabetes. This means that my immune system has destroyed the beta cells in my pancreas and, as a result, my pancreas cannot produce insulin at all. This isn’t the same disease as Type 2, so it will never change based on diet, exercise, or weight and I will have to take insulin for the rest of my life.
2. Did you suffer from any symptoms before finding out you had diabetes?
L: Yes, the usual symptoms of thirst, needing to pee a lot, and always being hungry. But it was my dramatic and sudden weight loss that clued me in. I lost 15 pounds in a month (I was only 125 to begin with!) and I was really sick by the time I realized I needed to go to the doctor.
3. When were you diagnosed?
L: I was 49! This is pretty late for Type 1, as most Type 1s develop it in childhood or as teens. My doctor was confused at first and thought that I must be Type 2, since I was older, but since I was lean and fit (I’m a triathlete and runner), not overweight, and eat a pretty clean diet, he was not sure. Type 1 was confirmed with a blood antibody test.
4. How did your doctor discover you had diabetes?
L: Pretty simple- a quick blood sugar test in his office with a meter. I was 413 (120 or below is normal). Subsequent HBA1C was 13.1 (yeah, sky high!) at diagnosis.
5. What information did your doctor give you about your type of diabetes?
L: He started me on long acting insulin shots and referred me to an endocrinologist. From there, they provided more information (and added mealtime insulin shots as well). I’m now on a pump, which makes the 8 to 10 shots I needed per day much more manageable.
6. What does your diet consist of to manage your diabetes?
L: I eat, on average, 40 g of carbs per meal and that’s about it on a normal day. Usually they are complex carbs; I rarely eat dessert or even chips, pretzels, pizza, or cereal. I do indulge in all of that sometimes, but these foods are hard to manage so I usually save these for a special night out or a party. Mercifully, wine is very easy to manage, so I often have a glass on the weekends or with friends.
7. Are you taking medication to help? And what type?
L: Insulin and that’s it.
8. How has this affected your mental health?
L: I get frustrated with it sometimes because it’s not always straightforward. I sometimes give myself too much or too little insulin for a meal or a snack and this results in a high or a low blood sugar afterwards. Exercise can lower blood sugar dramatically (I’m still a triathlete and a runner) and stress will elevate it. The amount of insulin I need at any time is complicated and mostly I’m ok with it, but I’m not always nice to myself when I make a mistake and I sometimes get angry about it.
I also get a little angry that “comfort food” no longer exists for me. I can’t just eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s while watching HGTV anymore when I’m feeling a little sad or tired (or both). HGTV is ok, but keeping my blood sugar at a reasonable level while binging on ice cream is really a lot of work and it’s usually not worth it. Mac and cheese used to be something I liked to eat from time to time and it’s also a very difficult comfort food to manage, so I rarely eat it anymore. Giving up these things makes me a little sad.
But, most of the time it’s just another thing I have to do in my day, so I don’t have too much of an emotional reaction to it. I just figure out how much and when to give myself insulin and then get on with my day.
9. Have you had to change a lot in your life in order to manage your diabetes?
L: I haven’t had to change the important stuff – kids, husband, work. I did make changes to my diet to minimize (or eliminate) foods that are hard to manage (pizza, pasta, chips, crackers) and I had to move my workouts to the morning to better control my blood sugar during workouts. I haven’t given up triathlons or running, but I had to figure out how to manage my blood sugar during workouts so that I don’t go too low.
10. How has having diabetes affected your overall lifestyle?
L: Well, now I realize just how important food was/is in my lifestyle! Food is everywhere: at work, at all family gatherings, when friends get together, etc. I find myself saying no to snacks at gatherings a lot more than before (it’s probably better for me anyway) or ordering the salad instead of the pasta dish at lunch. I’m more used to it now, but that change was really hard at first.
11. Have you tried any consumer products in order to help manage your diabetes? What are they? Have they helped?
L: Yes- there are lots of “low carb” or “keto” products out there and I find these (mostly) to be great substitutes with less blood sugar control problems. My favorites are Birchbenders pancake mix, Lily’s sugar free chocolate chips (there’s a low carb recipe for cookies on the bag), and York sugar free mint patties. You have to be careful, though, because sugar free does not mean carb free. They are easier to manage, but they still require some insulin.
12. Have you ever heard of VIANA Stevia before I mentioned it in a previous blog?
L: No, but there are lots of stevia products out there. I usually put stevia on my oatmeal or in tea.
13. Would you be willing to try it instead of granulated sugar in your diet? Why or why not?
L: Sure. I already use Stevia. I like it more than other sweeteners.
L has come along way from being completely healthy the a stunning remark from her doctor that told her she had Type 1 Diabetes and will have to give herself insulin in order to have a long life with her family. She is very strong even when she may feel tired from having to fight her diabetes demon on a daily basis. She hasn’t let it stop her though and that has made her brave in my eyes.
I hope one day she, as well as you, try the product VIANA Stevia. If you haven’t heard of it before like my cousin, then the link below will take you to my blog where I talk about the product.
I hope you will also find the time to go back and read my other blogs on Type 1 Diabetes, Gestational Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, and my first interview with another who has Type 1 Diabetes. I hope that you also stick with me on our journey through the world and lives of others who fight diabetes every day.
And if you are interested in trying the product for yourself, like my cousin is interested, then please use the link below and buy it here. Try it in your tea, oatmeal, coffee, and anywhere else you like to use sugar. Let’s get you on a healthier choice for sugar, shall we?