Anybody here have diabetes? How much of a hassle is it?

My friend has just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It wasn’t a terrible shock to her as it seems to run in her family, but she’s not taking it well.

Not that she’s really sick --she’s in what she’s calling her “honeymoon” period with it, mostly controlling blood sugar with diet, but insulin dependence is inevitable with time- it’s just another unnecessary hassle in her already complicated young life.

All of her friend are trying to be supportive. We even chipped in and got her a top-of-the-line glucose monitor she couldn’t have afforded otherwise. But fact is we don’t know what she’s facing. And while we want to be there for her, we also don’t want to smother her.

So, anybody care to give me some idea what she’s going through. Any perspective would be appreciated.

My dad is diabetic. Of course, he’s much older than your friend, but I can give you some idea. Mostly, aside from monitoring his blood sugar and watching what he eats (not especially well, I might add)life is pretty normal. He’s noticed that exercise helps a lot and that stress can make things worse. The only other problem is that circulation can become bad in your extremities and you have to be very careful not to injure your feet and legs. Even a small infection can get serious. (This may only happen later in life, though–my dad is 65.)

If she wants to stay off insulin as long as possible she’ll have to be very good about her diet and keep her weight down.

Spooje is an insulin dependent diabetic. It’s a hassle, but not as much as the alternative.

The thing is, if you treat it and respect it, you can live a full, normal, healthy life. If you try to deny it(which I have done in my past), it will mess you up.

The big thing is testing the blood sugar. Do it at least 3 times a day. You cannot really judge your blood sugar level by how you feel. I was adamantly opposed to testing at one time. It was pricey, and it hurt. I fiqured since I felt good I was doing OK. I did this for many, many moons. Then my doctor ordered some blood work and found that my kidneys were close to shutting down.

Now I test 5 to 6 times a day, watch my diet and get exercise and I’m healthy as a horse. I see my doctor regularly and get a hemoglobin A1C test every 3 months. It’s important.

Being diabetic just means you have to be careful. It doesn’t have to mean anything else.

I’m a Type 2 diabetic. I’ve had it for about 4 years now and have it pretty much under control. I take 2 pills in the morning and one at night…no insulin yet. I would advise your friend to go to a diabetes education class. Local hospitals often offer them and they are covered by insurance. My old doctor didn’t think I needed to test my blood other than what he was doing every 3 months. Now that I moved and got a new doctor, he has me test daily. I don’t test as often as Spooje…every morning when I get up for a fasting level and then either before or a few hours after dinner. My new doctor sent me to a 3-day class which was very informative. It also included a free meter and consulation with a dietician. Basically, they advocate exchanges (carbohydrates are more important in food than actual sugar). You can have a regular Coke every day but then you don’t get any other carbs the rest of the day. Diet soda is free since it has nothing and you can have as much as you want.

Also, being in Washington DC, we have several large hospitals including one that does extensive research on diabetes. I’m participating in a study now where I meet with a dietician every other week, have free blood tests once a month, got another free meter and free testing supplies (strips, lancets, etc.) and I get paid. You get excellent FREE medical care from a specialist. Have her check with the area hospitals and see if they offer anything like that.

I found out in January that I’m a Class II. I take a pill in the morning and one at night. I test my blood sugar twice a day. They can really scare you with what it can lead to, your eyes have to be checked at least once a year, kidney diease, and a multitude of other problems if you aren’t careful. It can be controlled with diet and exercise. I expect that by the end of the year I will be down to at least just one pill a day, none if I can help it. I don’t want to go through the rest of my life taking meds.
The worst thing for me was the eyesight. For about a month my vision was terrible to the point that I couldn’t drive during dark at all, but as the level came down that cleared up. The problem is you don’t realize how sick you are until you start to get better.
Good luck to your friend. It’s definitely not something to play with, but it’s up to the individual on how well their quality of life is.
The surprising thing I learned, if either of your parents is diabetic, you will be too at some point in your life, the better care you take of yourself the longer you ward it off.

I’m a diabetic, I was diagnosed in my mid 30s. It runs in my family. I tried to keep it under control with just the pills, but I eventually had to go to using insulin.

If she POSSIBLY can, she needs to get to a diabetes education class. Mine was paid by my insurance (it’s a lot cheaper to keep diabetes under control than to pay for the complications).

Exercise can really help diabetes. I’ve been having much better success in treating mine since I started on a regular exercise program (water aerobics for an hour, twice a week, and light weightlifting at home). Monitoring the blood sugar helps, too, because then the diabetic will SEE the abrupt change if s/he eats too much sugar.

The diabetic’s body is not as healthy as a non-diabetics. It takes me longer to get over infections. Plus, I’m more liable to get sick. Right now, I’m battling cellulitis (an ugly looking skin infection, just do a web search for it) and it DOESN’T want to clear up. I’m also far more prone to yeast infections than most women. Pregnancy poses special problems for a diabetic. If your friend wants to have children, she needs to be very careful to find a good doctor, and consult the doc before getting pregnant.

Qadgop the Mercutan is a diabetic MD, and KarlGauss is an endocrinologist (he specializes in internal medicine). If you’re lucky, they’ll drop by with hints and resources.

I am not going to recommend courses of treatment or things to do, since this is best left up to their doctor.

What I will tell you about briefly is my 19 (almost 20) years as a Type 1 diabetic.

Each day I wake up sick. Where? Just a general feeling of illness and unease. Parts of me hurt all over every day. I hate my life.

This morning, at 2:30 am, I had an insulin reaction. I woke up hot, sweaty, shaking the entire bed, blurred vision. Not terribly bad as reactions can go, but not good either. I stumbled downstairs and had some Cran-Grape juice to raise my blood sugar. It is very hard to judge how much to have. I felt miserable. Then I fell asleep on the couch. I woke up about 30 minutes ago - looks like I over-corrected the low blood sugar. My blood sugar is through the roof - 391 - and now I feel nauseous, bloated, and even more generally ill than normal. My extremities ache. I have taken a large shot, but will now be unable to eat for a long time - possibly until lunch. When I hope my blood sugar will be good enough to allow me to eat.

Or, perhaps I’ve over-corrected again, and today will be a “see-saw” day. Alternating low and high blood sugar, the only relief being suicide, or not eating for a day and allowing things to even out. After which, I will be ravenously hungry…

My control? It may sound bad, but my Hemoglobin A1c numbers run typically from 5-6.5 - excellent control. Of course, the H1c numbers can contain a large error if one has frequent cycling episodes. I am under the care of many doctors - I have problems with control because of a widely varying metabolism and hormonal problems. I am pretty bright, and understand better than most non-endocrinologists how my body is supposed to work. But my body does not respond logically.

I have no kidney problems, no neuropathy - after 19 years, that’s pretty damn good. I have two wounded fingers that refuse to heal. I have an anuerism in my right eye that sometimes blurs the vision in it, but normally I see alright. As far as permanent damage, mine is laughably trivial. I guess the general thing that really hurts is the overall feeling of sickness each day.

One thing that has greatly helped my control is my diet - I lost 20 pounds since January 1 this year, so now am 5’6", 140 pounds.

Well - here’s my sample size of one.

I’m a diabetic. I was first diagnosed with Type II diabetes when I was 33, which annoyed my doctor something fierce. The typical profiles for diabetes are Type I before age 20, or type II after 50, and in both cases, usually seriously overweight for half your life. I was maybe 30 pounds overweight and not the right age.

Two years later I shifted to Type I diabetic and have been on insulin for the past five years. It’s a lot more of a management problem than type II, but I can cheat on my diet and take more insulin.

I don’t test my blood sugar levels because without testing, it’s about as much as I can handle. I get pissed off pretty much every day. If I had to jab myself half a dozen times a day, I’d be getting pissed off half a dozen times a day, and I don’t need that.

It’s an icky, unpleasant, nasty, incurable disease which is also extremely high-maintenance. Wheee!

Your friend is going to be missing out on a lot of things. I don’t know what kind of spontaneous party lifestyle you guys all have, but if your friend is seriously interested in keeping things under control, the spontaneity is over. Meals have to be planned ahead; insulin needs to be on-hand at all times; the glucose testing needs to take place.

My aged mother turned into a diabetic a couple of years ago, but she controls it via diet and pills. She tests her sugar level every day by a urine test stick, watches what she eats closely, is pleased by the initial weight loss and thoroughly pissed at grocery stores who refuse to stock anything but the tiniest bit of diabetic foods, like candy and pies.

She’s been doing very well with it and hasn’t had to have her medication changed. She eats at certain times, carries crackers in her purse in case she feels bad or will be delayed having a meal, goes out to eat, participates in her normal activities and only now and then regrets that she can’t drink anymore.

Well, she can, but only a glass of wine a day, which she figures she might as well not have because that would only just start her feeling good and she’d have to quit. She used to like having a couple of shots a day. (She’s in her 70s.) She smokes and the Dr, aside from his usual grumbling over that, hasn’t ordered her to stop because apparently no one has been able to blame smoking for contributing to diabetes – though so far they’ve managed to blame it for everything up to global warming, and they’re working on that.

Now and then her sugar spikes, but she handles with diet. She reads the sugar content of foods, knows how companies like to hide it under different names, knows also which low sugar foods can actually generate sugar if too much of the product is eaten and was surprised to discover just how many diabetics there are in town.

Her biggest gripe? The local doctors like to tell you you’re a diabetic, give you pills, tell you to watch your sugar and then leave you to figure everything else out, like diet. She had to research almost everything herself.

I have little knowledge about anyone requiring injectable insulin except that it is apparently harder to control that form of diabetes and one needs to be more careful. I do know that diabetes in on the rise for some reason and much research is being done on it.

Oh! She has to be real careful about injuries or surgery because it takes ages for her to heal now. She had a toenail removed by a foot doctor, and instead of healing over in about a week, it took a month and she had to stringently follow the doctors orders. Diabetics are prone to infections from breaks in the skin.

She did have carpal tunnel surgery on one hand, and the doctor was not super concerned over her diabetes, though it did take her twice as long to heal. She keeps a close watch on any bumps or injuries to her legs and feet because with even her mild form of diabetes, a bruise or cut there can get serious quickly. She is real careful when she buys shoes and slippers now.