A recovering diabetic

Have you ever had one of those moments of clarity where the path you were on suddenly redirects and you cannot go back? Not ever? One of those moments where it is not your choice to change, it lands in your lap and you either address it straight on or you don’t and you still change but not in a good way?

This is my personal story. I had this experience in January 2021. While the rest of the world was in lockdown for COVID, I had an added struggle. In 2020 I moved states and took a job that would allow me to work from home. The best part was I had health insurance again and I finally decided to use it. 2021 was a new year and a new me so I went and did all the doctor things that I had neglected for 2 years.

On the first visit I learned that I was a full-blown diabetic. I had type 2 diabetes. This information, although shocking to hear, sadly, was not a surprise. I was always pre-diabetic in my adult life. But suddenly had major eye issues for the 5 months prior and because I had not been to a primary doctor, I reported no issues. There were no RXs to clue the eye doctor in on my actual health status. My red, burning eyes were treated for an eye infection that kept coming back. It was extremely painful and an alarming look that made Zoom calls embarrassing and computer work with spreadsheets almost impossible.

My sugar was over 300. The doctor ordered lab tests and did an EKG. My life changed.

I was scared and felt ashamed. I truly did not understand what becoming a diabetic meant. All those years of telling me I was pre-diabetic meant nothing. My A1C was simply a number that I thought was tied to being overweight. I had always been overweight. I was ignorant and stubborn and it was suddenly too late to do anything but change.

And change I did. I immediately learned about being a diabetic. I got off my butt and started walking. I had always been a walker, but somehow for 6 months, completely let it go. I could barely get to the end of the street before needing to turn back. I removed all pre-packaged foods from my diet. I bought several 1st time type 2 diabetic cook books. I started insulin and metformin. I saw a cardiologist. I went to physical therapy to help loosen my hips and build strength so that I could exercise more.

Nothing worked. My sugar remained high until the end of February when my daughter watched a Ted Talk on keto and I decided to try it as there was nothing to lose. I was so wrong. I lost a lot of weight. In fact, in the first 4 months I lost 55 pounds. I started to learn about my body and how it responded to the foods I put in my mouth. Literally, I learned that one second in the mouth could alter my blood sugar. I learned that egg whites alone spiked my blood sugar, but the entire egg, showed only a 10 point increase. I learned that my favorite veggies were loaded with sugar and carbs. I had to cut out bell pepper and tomato. I knew not to eat potatoes but who knew carbs and sugar were in EVERYTHING? I got the CarbManager app to help track my macros and this taught me about protein, fats and how they changed as I connected my physical activity to the app via my apple watch. I started to care less about the scale and more about my body.

I was fearful for my heart so was cautious about the types of fat I consumed. I ate a lot of avocado and put some butter in my coffee. I cut out the International Delight coffee creamer. I only drank water. My body responded. My eyes cleared. I felt that there was hope as I learned that other diabetics (type 2) were able to come off their medication and return to their pre-diabetic life. I am now almost a year and a half in this way of life and am still going strong. I walk at least 2 miles a day and ride my bike around 5 miles a day whenever possible. I started running a few months ago in little bits and I am feeling strong, like I can do anything. I have lost about 90 pounds and my labs are finally clean. My A1C is sitting at 5.9. I have completely come off insulin and metformin.

Although I will never go back to eating the way I did my entire life, I have been able to add back the bell pepper and tomato (in moderation). I do eat store bought keto bread and this has improved my sandwich prospects immensely. I am happy with my progress, I smile when I look in the mirror and I am embracing a whole new me. I am currently letting my gray shine through, it feels better to be in full acceptance of where I am in life and no longer need to hide my wrinkles behind short bangs. Life is good.

I hope that this story finds a newly diagnosed diabetic and gives them hope. I want to tell you that you can do this, but it will take hard work and dedication. You cannot get there with little cheats. Your health depends on you to make all the sacrifices to get this right. Ultimately, you have to make the decision to change.

I know now that just because I am off my diabetic medications does not mean I no longer need to take care of what I eat and when I exercise. They are both intricately part of my life now and will be for the rest of the journey. I am a diabetic for life whether or not my A1C says so. Here’s to a long, fulfilling life and health. We all deserve it.

Thanks for reading.

Quote of the day:

Gratitude turns what we have into enough ~ Melody Beattie

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