A couple years ago, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I am not sure that I have ever even mentioned this on the blog. Taking medications for me is fairly new. I only started taking blood pressure and high cholesterol medications five or six years ago, even though I have had weight issues much, much longer.
My diagnosis has been difficult for two reasons. First, finding real breakfasts that are low in carbs AND low in cholesterol can be a challenge. I am a real food, not a yogurt or smoothie person. Second, my medication has been making me ill. For those not familiar (and I apologize for too much information here), Metformin is the standard medication for lowering sugar. One of it's side effects is illness and diarrhea for a week or so, until the body adjusts. For me, there has been just one problem-my body has not adjusted, and in order to leave the house, I have had to take something every day to offset those symptoms. This has not been conducive to many things, sleep among them.
About two and a half months ago-maybe three, actually, I decided to simply stop taking my medication. Without telling my doctor. I knew this was a risk, and I understood the effects of high blood sugar on my body. I decided that if my blood sugar went higher (I have blood tests every six months) I would ask for an extended release drug or be willing to experiment with alternatives.
For what it's worth, I did not do this in a vacuum. I was exercising regularly and had just decided to purchase that fitbit to measure steps and sleep. I was adjusting my diet in other ways, and counting carbs, not calories. I also increased fiber (which has it's own initial issues)-something I had to work at as I am a cooked versus raw veggie person as a rule.
|courtesy of www.diabetes.org|
I was also looking at other ways to lower my blood sugar and "doing the research". I increased my exposure to the sun (within reason) after looking at studies. One showed that low levels of D (caused by limited exposure to sunlight) increase diabetes risk. Another, Australian study showed that after the national drive to support sunscreen use, diabetes rates were higher. I have an olive skin, and annual skin checkups, and so sitting in the sun on the patio every morning with a light sunscreen for half an hour to an hour has been come part of my routing.
I take a multi vitamin, but I also added some supplements to my diet, including Magnesium (magnesium deficiency is very common in people with diabetes). I'm adding ALA (Alpha-Lipoic Acid) because studies show it can reduce glucose by 20 percent and helps with nerve pain-which I also have because of my knee and some fibroid-myalgia issues. I'm looking at adding cinnamon as well.
Again, I don't do things in a vacuum. I did research all of these supplements and alternatives on mainstream medical sites, and looked at all the side effects. For example, Chromium is a highly recommended supplement, which I chose not to take. It can cause kidney issues, and I already take Tylenol Arthritis tablets (600m mg) almost every day. I decided at this point I would not take anything that affected my liver or kidneys according to current research.
There are other issues that affect diabetes, including stress and environment. In fact, weight and body mass issues are just one set of many contributors.
The result of this experiment? This past week, I had my physical, which included six month blood work (my last being in February). To say I was happy would be an understatement. Without taking my diabetes drugs, and with only a small weight loss and diet change, my sugar numbers decreased by almost ten points. In less than six months.
I would not necessarily suggest that others take this step. Metformin is a life saver for many. Most people manage to take this on a regular basis with no side effects and good results. I am not one of them.
And this experiment does not mean I am physically fit, the example of perfect health, or even the perfect diabetes patient. I still have a (real, non diet) coke every single day, and love to bake and eat desserts, for example.
I am still officially over weight. I have a history of fibroid and cysts which probably means a biopsy for me in the next month. I am behind on my follow up colonoscopy (although new research suggests follow ups do not lower risk, and my blood stool is negative). Because I concentrated on more protein than carbs, my cholesterol levels have upped a tiny bit, meaning I probably need to chose liquid eggs for my breakfast. And I still take four daily meds even without the diabetes drug.
I have to tell you though, without taking this particular pill, I have ended up healthier, with less side effects, and life is more enjoyable.
So in this case, this choice worked, for me!
Do you have diabetes? If so how are you taking care of your own health?