Tell me your diabetes stories

This maybe should go under MPSIMS, but since medical advise will probably get dispensed, I decided to put it here.

I’m a little worried that I’m about to get the news I’m on the cusp of diabetes. Here’s my blood sugar thread, if you want the details.

First, I have an appointment with my doctor soon-- the soonest one I could get. In the meantime, I’ve been following an 1800 calorie diabetic diet I pulled off the internet. So, I’m really just half-assing it, and even that has helped. No more blood sugar spikes. Blood sugar seems to be staying between about 83-112. That’s higher than normal for me, but from what I can pull off the web, it’s a good range.

I have reactive hypoglycemia, which is why I have a glucometer in the first place.

So tell me how you got diagnosed, and most importantly, what symptoms sent you to the doctor. Do you manage it with diet alone? oral meds? injected insulin? If you’ve always been diabetic, and inject insulin, what blood sugar numbers are your goals? what A1C?

My last A1C was about 9 months ago, and it was 4.9, but I wasn’t having spikes then; I assume it will be higher the next time it’s checked.

I was diagnosed 11 years ago, with Type 2 diabetes.

I’d been trying to lose weight for several years (I was probably about 60 pounds or so overweight, at my heaviest), and taking the strategy of “don’t eat so damned much”. I wasn’t exercising, but the weight was coming off. And, for a while, I felt pretty good. I thought it was the diet working, but in fact, it was probably a result of the undiagnosed and untreated diabetes. The disease doesn’t run in my family, but I was sedentary, and drinking a ton of soda (on a typical day, probably 6 or so cans of Pepsi).

I was thirsty all the time, and urinating a lot, which was my big clue (but I was in denial about it…the thirst reminded me of an episode of “MAS*H”, in which there was a chopper pilot who was concealing his diabetes). I’d developed continuous pain in my feet (neuropathy), and my breath had developed a funny odor. I finally acknowledged that something was wrong, and went to the doctor. My blood pressure was high, and when the doctor asked about “pain or tightness in your chest”, and I said yes, they sent me to the hospital.

Well, the tightness in my chest was a panic attack, and my blood pressure came down once I calmed down. After being held overnight for observation, the cardiologist said he saw no signs of heart disease (but chided me for being sedentary), and started the process to get me released. Then, a GP stuck his head in my room, and said, “but, wait, your fasting blood sugar is 210. You need an A1C test” – and that came back with an 8.2. Boom, diabetes diagnosis.

He put me on metformin, and then I went to see an endocrinologist, who added a second oral med (Actos at that time; I’m now on metformin and Januvia). I’ve been able to consistently get my A1C below 6 (and typically around 5.2 now), through:

  • dietary changes (no more sugary drinks, no sweets, limited starches)
  • exercise (I started running several years ago)
  • oral meds (thanks to the first two, I’m now at a minimal dose of my meds)

I’m not on insulin yet, and look to be able to keep that possibility at bay for the foreseeable future.

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about 3 years ago. At the time my A1C was 10ish, and my diet was out of control. I was put on metformin, initially 500mg, then 1000mg. Between that, my diet improving (not perfect, but generally cut out the sugar and a good deal of starch), and increased physical activity (strenuous exercise several times a week), I’m back down in the 5’s-6’s. I haven’t had any adverse effects yet that I’m aware of, had I not gotten my blood tested I never would have even known there was an issue.

Secondhand experience here, most if not all of this told before.

My mother got diagnosed through her routine blood checks. She gets at least one yearly, due to a medical history which used to take up four bloated folders back when it was on paper. She’s never had an emergency situation due to it; the only symptom that we can clearly attribute to the diabetes is the low sensitivity in peripheral areas. She often gets little wounds under one or more toes due to bad shoes (“overheated feet” - there’s probably a name in Greek for that); on several occasions, these have been noticed by people giving her a pedi before she had, which according to SiL-the-doctor is precisely the reason why diabetes patients are told not to cut their own toenails.

She’s gone from “prediabetic” to “diabetic, diet and pills” to “diabetic, one daily shot of insulin”. She’s a horrid patient: at one point, SiL was worried because some of the glucose readings were too high with no evident pattern until I took her aside and told her to recheck, because I’d looked at the little book and seen this pattern: the high readings were always before Tuesday dinner or Sunday lunch. Mom’s definition of “fasting” is “right before one of the three daily meals”, but she does not count intermediate meals (also, anything you can fit in your mouth whole such as candied fruit is neither a snack nor food). As anybody can see, meeting her also-diabetic friend on Tuesday for a large piece of cake and a cup of coffee with saccharine does not break the fast or elevate glucose content; neither does a glass of sweet white wine and a pair of tapas after Sunday Mass (tapas in a size that I’d consider a full meal if I have three).

Her reaction to “your glucose readings have steadily been getting higher, I’ll have to put you on insulin” was “yay, I won’t have to follow the diet any more!” (you weren’t, Mom).

She was on metformin for something like three years; turns out it was giving her diverticulitis-like symptoms. The gastro had made a note about it in her history, which the GP had ignored; the gastro was Not Happy. Changing to a different medication solved most of her gastrointestinal problems.

I developed type 1 diabetes as a relatively old person, 41. It’s rare, but it does happen. My dad did the same thing. I had no idea that anything was wrong (hind sight there were signs, they just crept up on me) until one day I had all the classic symptoms, and they were severe. I had the usage of a glucometer, tested and it was high (over 600, unreadable on home device). The first doctor refused to test or treat me as type 1, put me on pills and a diet. Not good-3 months later my A1C was 15.8, incredibly high.

Finally got in to an endocrinologist, who properly diagnosed me. Lots of highs and lows for the next several years. The worst was over 900 and then 29 in the same day. uggg Lots of hospital stays, DKA, the works. I lost a ton of weight, which was good, but that doesn’t really matter that much for a type 1. Not as far as controlling the disease, of course it is healthier, though.

Last summer, I finally gave in and got a pump. Should have done it years ago. A1C is now under 7, I feel better, and it’s actually easier than shots. Anyone that is a candidate for the pump and is struggling to do it, I highly recommend it.

Almost two years ago, I went to the walk-in clinic with some persistent abdominal pain. The doc there told me that it was highly likely that I needed my appendix out and told me to hie to the ER, where (after an interminable wait, good lord), they told me that I in fact had pancreatitis - a hellishly painful thing where the cure is “don’t eat for a few days and ride out the pain.”

Anyway, I was laid up in the hospital for three or four days, and I got my Type II diabetes diagnosis while I was in. Not really surprising - I was drinking lots of water, doing the urinating thing, and weighed something like 315 pounds. I believe my A1C was… 10.6? 11.2? Somewhere up there. Hella diabetic.

Now, I had a relative who died from diabetes complications. He lived under the “eat more or less whatever and use insulin” theory of management. Between that and the memory of the pain, I was able to really go nuts on the weight loss and exercise. For the first year I stuck very strictly to the carbs-per-meal method of dieting. I was on injected insulin for the first 4 or 5 months after diagnosis.

I’m at about 255 now and want to get a lot lower, but the weight loss has slowed down a lot. Still, I’m a ton more active, in much better overall shape, and the only medication I’m on now is metformin. My A1C is below 6 and all my other numbers (cholesterol, blood pressure, etc) have normalized very nicely. My endocrinologist has told me that I’m one of the best success stories for lifestyle change she’s seen, so that’s nice.

I’m afraid that’s going to be me, because that happens in my family. Type 1 diabetes in their 50s or 60s. The thing is, I suppose it could always have started earlier in any of them, and the symptoms just got severe enough to drive them to the doctor maybe five years after being subclinical, or what lately people call “prediabetes.” So I could be there already, and just happen to know about it because of my hypoglycemia, and checking my blood sugar with a glucometer. I normally check four times a day, but I’ve been obsessing over it the last weeks, and checking like 10-12 times a day. Of course, the more I check, the more I see these spikes that might last only 20 minutes. If I bike around the block a couple of times because of a spike that would have resolved itself, I bring on a hypoglycemic episode.

Oh well. I’m very hopeful a strict diet is going to fix it, at least for the time being-- I haven’t had a spike, even with obsessive testing since I started obsessing over my diet. I really hope my doctor will send me to a dietician, whatever else she wants to do. I will happily go to an endocrinologist if she wants.

My weight is in the normal range, but I weigh 20 lbs. more than I did before I was pregnant. That’s mostly because I developed back problems when I was pregnant, which I finally got fixed last year. It took three different PTs, but I found one who put me in traction three time a week for an hour, and then gave me a really strenuous work-out for all the muscles in my trunk, followed by massage. I also had yoga-like exercises I had to do every morning. It worked. I did it for four months, and I still do the morning exercises and a maintenance version of the strength training.

The upshot is, I used to get such bad back pain, I felt like I was going to throw up after walking less than a block, so I wasn’t getting a lot of exercise. Now that my back is fixed, I’m thinking maybe I can lose some weight. I’m ten years older, so maybe not, but maybe I’ll lose 10 lbs. I walk everywhere that it’s practical to do so, and I got a bicycle, although I haven’t used it much through the winter. In fact, I just pumped the tires up yesterday, and decided I should probably put new brake cables on it, and maybe get it new tires. Now that I think about it, maybe I should just take it in somewhere, because I totally suck at putting tires on bikes, and while brake cables are easy, if someone else is doing tires, might as well have them do the cables.

One thing that may help you feel better, it’s perfectly normal (even in people without diabetes) for blood sugar to move up and down during the day in response to food, stress, activity, and other factors. It is not supposed to be a static number. The American Diabetes Association, last I checked, lists 130 and under as acceptable for a ‘random’ blood sugar, meaning one done at any time of the day other than fasting. And if you stress yourself out too much, that’s going to contribute to blood glucose elevation (as a response to elevated stress hormones).
I’d suggest backing off of the blood glucose checking and being too strict with the diet to a point where your hypoglycemia is managed. For one thing, since you’re still pending a doctor visit and labwork, you could be affecting the numbers to a point where the symptoms and labs your doctor needs to look at might be affected. And it sounds like you don’t need any extra stress with this, either!
I’d also be wary of diets found on the internet - the ADA does not endorse any particular diet, and strict diet plans are usually more counterproductive than useful.

The diet is just the number of starches, proteins, etc, needed for ~1800 calories a day, spread out evenly-- I have worked with diabetics, so I know what an actual diabetic diet looks like. And I cut out refined sugar completely.

I’m back to testing four times a day. I’m not stressing so much today. I actually feel better, now that I think about it. I really just should have cut out sugar years ago, instead of using “tricks,” like only eating it after a full meal, or something.

I was diagnosed about 4 years ago(?) Same thing. Urinating and drinking all the time, which was just normal for me, then sudden vision changes that made me go see a doctor. l blood sugar test was positively ludicrous - something like 385 or higher, which is like 14+ on the A1C scale.

Got put on Metformin and Januvia. Only changes I made in my diet were to cut the sugar and stop eating as much Chinese food (rice) and a few other things that I noticed really spiked my blood sugar. I still do indulge in candy from time to time, but I limit it and for the most part stick to dark chocolate as my vice.

Unfortunately, I have not lost any weight and that is something I need to get serious about.

My A1C in January was 6.6, and that was after the holidays, where I generally have more sugar in my diet. Was 5.8 last summer and 6.4 in the previous test.

Is not the appendix on the lower right area of your abdomen? 22

majority of the pancreas in upper left area stretching towards the middle?
The only thing they diagnosed my diabetes was from a high sugar level after a breakfast one day.

No increased urine
No thirstyness
Whatever else, nothing

Now on 1000mg metformin and some other pill to control it

I never want insulin! I hate needles.

I have a great deal of problem with food. Husband has to have his meat and potatoes every day for dinner, hard to avoid potatoes…
I’ve increased activity exponentially but still about the same weight or more.

Diabetics seem to have problems losing weight, never ending battle…

My particular pain wasn’t localized. It was like having the world’s worst stomach cramps, except with no real respite. Several of my other symptoms apparently lined up with appendicitis as well. In any case, it was good that he told me to get to the hospital. At the end of things, it was one of the best things to ever happen to me.

Funnily enough, they never did find out exactly what triggered the pancreatitis episode. Acute idiopathic pancreatitis.

Less funnily is that the pancreatitis history excludes me from the entire class of diabetes medication that promotes weight loss for three full years. That’s pretty frustrating.

My experience is a bit different. In 2000 or so, I weighed 281 and my blood glucose up to 120 or so and my doctor said I had to lose weight. I did, about 30 lb and the glucose remained the same. Over the next couple years I put back 10lb. In 2005, I slipped on some ice and broke an ankle. I landed in the hospital and they fixed the ankle and told me to see my doctor about my blood sugar which had climbed to about 146. He immediately put me on metformin, 1000 mg a day. With no further dieting, I lost 20 lb over the next year or so. And my blood sugar dropped to about 100 (A1C was around 6%). In 2010, I started dieting by continuing to eat the relatively modest meals I had been eating since 2000, but cutting out all eating between meals. Over the next three years, my weight fell to about 200, where it remains to this day, my blood sugar has remained about 100 and the A1C below 6%.

I do not follow a diet that is especially low in carbs. In fact, I eat a fair amount of bread (largely, but not entirely, whole grain, made with a mixture of corn meal, 7 grain cereal mix, whole wheat flour, ground flax seed, powdered skim milk and white flour) and we almost always have a starch, potatoes or noodles, with dinner. Of course, I don’t have that reactive hypoglycemia either. One point I might make is that one of the effects of the metformin is to lessen the release of insulin. So that could, I am guessing, solve your problem.