I have already mentioned in several of my posts that I am a diabetic living with type 2 diabetes. If you are unfamiliar with it, type 2 diabetes is a metabolic condition. It affects the way the body processes and utilizes glucose throughout your body. According to the World Health Organisation Global Report on Diabetes, this condition is on the rise. For example, in U.S. alone there are approximately 1,2 million people a year diagnosed with it.
Disclaimer: I am not a health professional, nor medically trained. I speak from my own experience as someone living with type 2 diabetes. Please contact your doctor for any medical issues you might have or if you suspect you might have type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms
The symptoms of diabetes are usually the following:
- Increased thirst and hunger – you know how you get thirsty during summer? Well, multiply it. I would drink 2-3 glasses of water at a time and still feel thirsty, which leads naturally to the next number on the list.
- Frequent urination – I would get up probably around 4-5 times at night causing me to be sleep deprived.
- Weight loss and or sudden weight gain – if you are eating the same way, but suddenly start losing or gaining weight. I didn’t feel this as much since I was always overweight.
- A feeling of exhaustion and fatigue – I would feel so exhausted I could barely get up out of bed. I was constantly tired, and could never get enough sleep.
- Slow healing injuries – having a small cut takes much longer to heal than it used to
- Frequent infections – for example, candida. I had problems with candida every now and then.
- Tingling sensations in feet – or should I say sharp pain in my feet, that wouldn’t go away for longer periods of time.
- Blurred vision – I never experienced this one, but many people who are diagnosed do state this as one of the symptoms they faced.
The thing with the symptoms though was that they never occurred all at once. Anyone else had the same experience? I had, for example, tingling sensations in my feet for few months, then it stopped. After a month or two I had fungal infections on and off. Several months later I had periods of extreme thirst.
Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis
Honestly, if it wasn’t for a random check-up I would probably not be diagnosed with diabetes for some time. People go on for years not knowing they have type 2 diabetes. So if you experience any of the symptoms I mentioned above or a combination of them, please check with your doctor.
For about one year, I would go to a doctor for a different symptom. Hence, it was never connected as something as a whole is happening. Until, after a weekend where I had a bit too much to eat, I went to get my blood tested on Monday morning and my sugar levels were high. I told the doctor I was eating heavier food so they wanted to repeat the test in a week. It was again higher than normal. So they did an A1C test, my fasting sugar and 2 hours after eating levels. The next thing I knew: I have type 2 diabetes.
First Reaction – Now what?
Hearing the diagnosis was overwhelming. I was so scared, felt incredibly guilty for not taking care of my health on time, angry at myself and the world. They gave me oral medications and told me what foods to avoid, gave me a sample meal plan and told me to lose weight and come after 3 months. I was basically sent my own merry way to deal with the rest. Not very professional I know. The support system in my country at the time (8 years ago) was very scarce.
Fortunately, I have a great doctor now with whom I am discussing all aspects of my treatment.
Also, the people around reacted really differently. Some were worried, some were just going ‘meh, you’ll be fine…just stop eating sweet stuff‘. Hah! Wish it was that simple.
In all that confusion, I had to really do my research. I needed to focus on what I eat and drink, causes, possible complications and find my way to live with the type 2 diabetes. Feel free to check out my eating habits here. My meal plan is a combination of a prescribed diet with my own twist and monitored by my doctor.
Accepting Type 2 Diabetes
Just like most people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes I learned and am still learning about the condition mostly on my own. However, there are some main points I want to stress, which I feel are important for anyone facing the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
- Not all diabetics respond to the foods the same way, i.e. what raises sugar levels for someone might not raise my sugar levels as much. Therefore, although there are guidelines to what should be predominantly type-2 diabetes-friendly food, ultimately I had to test most of the food by myself to see how I react to it. This also lead me to make my own meal plan, and it works great for me.
- Diabetes burnout – Usually associated with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes also experience it (I sure did). It is a state of often ignoring the condition, by skipping appointments, not checking your sugar levels, forgetting medication, and overall neglect of dietary recommendations. It often leads to a state of anxiety, depression, anger, and irritability.
- Hormonal imbalance – The insulin resistance is the cause of the ongoing hormonal imbalance I am constantly facing. The stress my body faces lead to increased cortisol levels, which in return lowers my immune system, affects my blood pressure and affects insulin levels. A vicious circle.
- Vitamin and mineral deficiency – people with type 2 diabetes have to be aware of this one. It is very common to experience vitamin D deficiency as well as zinc and magnesium deficiency. I often have cramps when I am asleep, so I try to make sure to monitor my vitamin levels.
- Movement helps – type 2 diabetes is manageable. And regular exercise and physical activity help immensely.
One of the most important things I had to learn:
Type 2 diabetes is reversible to a degree that you don’t need meds, but monitoring your sugar levels, eating healthy and taking care of yourself will always be there. So I had to learn to accept it, not as a burden, but as my body’s alarm system to keep taking care of myself.
Does that make any sense? In future posts, I plan on getting more into the issues of type 2 diabetes, including valuable resources for everyone living with it. If you find it informative and wish to share your own experiences with it please comment, share and connect.