For a few different reasons December was quite a stressful month. I'd been feeling quite tired and unwell but that's exactly what I put it down to - stress. Then a few days before Christmas I fell out of my wheelchair. I was fine I just needed picking up so I pressed the alarm I wear around my neck to call the paramedics. When they did their routine checks they found my blood sugar was really high (16 when normal is 4-7) so they took me to hospital. It was funny because just the day before I was emptying my catheter bag and noticed that it smelled really sweet - a bit like demented rice crispies.
However the hospital sent me back out with antibiotics for a UTI as apparently this can cause high blood sugar. As I know diabetes can be associated with FA I bought a test kit the next day and monitored myself. Over Christmas it went up to 29 so I made an appointment with my doctor as soon as I could. He sent me for a blood test and the next day I was officially diagnosed with type II diabetes.
I was initially prescribed 2 Metformin per day but as I was still getting some high readings (I had been told to test twice every week) so this was very recently increased to 3 - I've had regular check-ups with my doctor/diabetes nurse and they've been really helpful. In fact my doctor referred me to a DESMOND (Diabetes Education and Self Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed) course which was so helpful especially considering I didn't even know what a carbohydrate was!
Using what I had learned on the DESMOND course and my own research on websites such as Diabetes UK I managed to get my diet under control and lower my HbA1c level (HbA1c is a measure of diabetes control) from the upper 60s to the lower 50s. – normal is 48. I was told by my doctor not to test my blood sugar any more although I still do randomly like I feel unwell, have an infection or take new medication as both of these things can raise blood sugar, or at times when I know my diet hasn’t been so good!
Blood sugar readings
Blood sugar readings are quite unpredictable as they can be affected by so many things other than diet such as fatigue, stress, other illness/infectious, menstrual cycle, medication etc. Checking my blood sugar readings every day was pointless and sometimes depressing as they would go up and down for no reason. So unless I have reason to, such as when I feel unwell, I only check my blood once every week so I know I’m generally doing ok. Apparently daily readings are only crucial if you are insulin-dependant.
HbA1c is a test used to measure how much glucose gets stuck to the red blood cells in your blood vessels. It is used as a guide to the amount of glucose that has stuck to other parts of the body that can be damaged by diabetes.
HbA1c can tell you how you have been doing over the past 2-3 months in relation to your blood glucose levels and in controlling your diabetes. This test is done by your local doctor or nurse using blood from a vein.
If you are newly diagnosed, you should aim to have an HbA1c level of less than 48mmol/mol (6.5%). But if you are on two or more diabetes drugs then it should be less than 59mmol/mol (7.5%).
Diet and exercise
After being diagnosed with diabetes I had to completely change my diet. A diabetic diet is all about carbohydrates and eating as few of them as possible - carbohydrates are broken down into sugar in the body. Eggs and meat have no carbs in them so I often have bacon and eggs with a low-carb sausage (3 carbs) or 1/4 tin of low sugar beans (10 carbs) for breakfast and meat is always part of every meal. Vegetables are low in carbohydrates so I’m quite keen on salad these days (about 4 carbs) and vegetables are easy to prepare in the microwave (about 5 carbs). Be very careful with bread as it tends to have a lot of carbs in it - I stick to crackerbread (3.5 carbs per piece) and wholemeal bread (about 10 carbs per slice) and avoid granary. It's not always the obviously sugary foods that are the worst, for example fruit, which remains a vital part of your diet, can be very high in carbohydrates. I stick to berries - for example an 80g portion of blueberries has 8 carbs in it compared to a banana which has 23 carbs in it - and berries with Greek yogurt (6 carbs) make a great breakfast. Fruits such as apples and clementines (about 12 carbs each) are good for when you crave something sweet and dark chocolate (about 3 carbs) is good when you crave a bit of chocolate.
I also found that spacing out my mealtimes made a huge difference to my blood sugar. What I had always done was to eat breakfast after my carers had left in the morning which was 11am/12pm some days. Now I ask my PAs to make serving breakfast the first thing they do so I always have breakfast at around 9am. I can then space out lunch and dinner time evenly throughout my day.
Exercise is especially beneficial to diabetics and I find it’s very useful in keeping my blood sugar low. Using muscles whilst exercising helps the body to metabolise carbohydrates.
I use a food diary app on my iPhone called MyFitnessPal to help me to count carbohydrates and to see what impact exercise has. I find it really useful in getting my diet right.
Diabetes and depression
It's probably no coincidence that I started taking antidepressants at the same time as being diagnosed with diabetes. It’s easy to get really anxious about diet when you're first diagnosed but in time you will relax as you will learn what in general to avoid. I still find it hard work sometimes though!
One year on
In January 2018 my HbA1c level was 85 so my doctor told me to take 4 Metformin a day. 6 weeks later my level has fallen to 69 but my doctor still isn’t happy so as well as the 4 Metformin she has prescribed one tablet called “Pioglitazone Accord”. I also have a vitamin B12 deficiency (apparently a side effect of taking Metformin) so two "Cyanocobalamin" were added to the mix, #druggie.
My most recent blood test showed my HBA1c had gone up to a pretty worrying 98, my vitamin B12 was still high and my body was now also deficient in salt. My doctor consequently took me off Pioglitazone Accord and prescribed a new medication called Alogliptin. We shall see what happens next …
|This website has been around sinse 1998, and although it's changed a lot over the years it's always been about me and my disability. Over the years I have used many different hosts and website design packages. For the past ten years or so I have used 1&1 as my host and I have always been very happy with it. I have always wanted to learn how to build a website from scratch using Adobe Dreamweaver, so about three years ago I got in touch with Polar Solutions and arranged for a trainer to come out to my home to teach me at my own pace. So I now design this website using Adobe Dreamweaver and the skills I learned on that course. I designed the buttons using Cool Text.