2014: My Diabetes Year-in-Review

2015

In 2014, I marked ___ years with diabetes: 20

Best diabetes experience… I’ve made several new diabetes friends in Minneapolis, which has not only made living with diabetes easier but also helped make my transition to a new state a little easier.

Worst diabetes experience… I had an epically bad diabetes day in late July, right after we moved into our house. I had a crazy long high blood sugar but rage bolused myself into the ground. Hit one of my lowest blood sugars ever — 31 mg/dl and was low for about two hours before I finally crawled back out. I was a sweaty, tired, miserable mess.

This year, I learned… after my epic low, I talked to my CDE about what happened and she explained how insulin absorption works, and that giving more and more insulin into the same spot doesn’t necessarily make blood sugar go down any faster, because it just forms a big insulin bubble that takes awhile to dissipate.

Biggest accomplishment… getting my A1C under 7% was a huge accomplishment for me. I wasn’t sure it would ever happen, but it did! I also lost 25 lbs this year, which I’m really happy about, too. And I ran a half marathon. I guess this was a pretty accomplished year!

Biggest disappointment… for the time being, I’ve had to give up gluten. Womp womp. After some serious tummy troubles over the summer, I started a gluten-free experiment which seems to be helping… mostly. Still seeing the occasional stomach ache, but for the most part, things have quieted down considerably. I mean, I’m happy to not have the stomach ache stuff, and most gluten free isn’t that bad, but it still sucks to have to give up things or put extra work into eating!

Newest tool in my D bag… Part of getting my A1C down was in part to using Victoza, which I started in June.

Favorite new blog / website / place on the Internet to talk to D-folks: I’ve been spending most of my time on Facebook forums these days. I participate on a couple groups for women with diabetes, a couple of groups about pregnancy and diabetes (I’M JUST DOING RESEARCH!), and a couple of D-device groups for Omnipod and Dexcom. I’m also a fan of my friend Cynthia’s diabetes page called Diabetes Light: My holistic journey to health, where she talks a lot about holistic methods of managing diabetes and her other chronic illnesses.

My goal for 2015… my main two goals are: 1) continue losing weight and get down to my goal weight and 2) keep my A1C in the 6s. I tend to go fluctuate a lot with my A1C so if I could just keep it stable in a good range, I would be very happy!

Something I’m going to try… downloading my Dexcom CGM more often. I know that looking at my trends will help me make more informed changes. I also know that I shouldn’t be so quick to make changes. Sometimes I get really impulsive, like “Oh, I’m low?! Must need less basal!” and then I’m high the next day because this isn’t a trend, this is just one day. 

 

(Feel free to use this on your own blog to recap your year!)

Four Ways To Lower An A1C… But Not Gain Weight

The other day on Facebook, someone posted whether or not it would be possible to ever lower an A1C but also not gain weight. I’ve heard this a lot over the years about how it seems like weight gain is inevitable with type 1 diabetes. And trust me, I have definitely struggled with this. But this year I’ve dropped 20 lbs and lowered my A1C over a percent. So I thought about what I did this year that made a difference and I made a brief list of my thoughts. Ginger Vieira saw it and suggested that I blog about it.

And when Ginger tells you to do something, you do it!

The main thing I figured out is that even though I don’t think insulin causes you to gain weight, but it doesn’t help when it comes to losing. Obviously you can’t go without insulin, but I do think that cutting down insulin safely helps. How do you do that?

Four Things I Did To Take Less Insulin (without ruining my blood sugar) 

1) Always work on getting the right basal and bolus ratios (and tweak them as often as necessary) in order to avoid using correction boluses. Most people take more insulin when they correct bloods sugar than when they raise their bolus or basal rate to avoid the high. This is a great way to get your blood sugar in better control but not have to take a lot more insulin. Plus, it’s no fun chasing highs and lows. 

2) Getting on Victoza. This isn’t available to everyone, but it made my body more sensitive to insulin and it decreased my appetite. Both of these helped me take less insulin. Other drugs, like Symlin or Invokanna, can help you take less insulin and sometimes it will curb the appetite too. 

3) Exercise regularly, especially strength training. I know, it’s a PITA, both time-wise and BG-wise, but it’s so helpful in so many ways. Insulin sensitivity is just one of many benefits to regular exercise. And don’t worry about needing to eat before or after working out. Your body actually needs some fuel to work out. As long as you’re not eating more overall throughout the day, there shouldn’t be an issue. 

4) Eat less. There are a myriad of ways to do this, but I’m not going to argue about the most effective eating plan. But I will say that when you eat more than your body needs, you’re going to gain weight. Insulin’s entire mechanism is to bring the sugar your body needs to the cells, and then store the rest as fat. I’m not saying everyone who is overweight overeats, that’s why I listed those other 3 things first. I think they are just as important as your diet. 

 

And there you have it. Four little ways to lower your A1C and not gain weight at the same time.

Defending Insulin

The strangest thing happened to me at work the other day. insulin

sI work a couple part-time jobs in retail, one that’s more or less permanent, and the other one that’s just for the holiday season. At the holiday season job, I recently learned that one of my coworkers (who I really like) has type 2 diabetes, and her mom has type 1 diabetes. Because of that, she is very well-educated about everything, and she even started educating me about type 2 diabetes before I gently told her that I already know everything (well… almost).

A few days ago, I was recovering from a low blood sugar. Another coworker asked, “Are you feeling better?”

“Not really,” I said, explaining that it can take 10 or 15 minutes for the feeling to really go away.

She made a casual remark about feeling bad when she’s low too.

“I think a diabetic low is like five or ten times worse than a non diabetic’s low,” I replied.

“Oh, I know, but I have type 2 diabetes, and my husband has type 1 diabetes,” she said.

Ah, okay.

“Wow, there are more of us here than I thought!” I said.

She then explained that she took Metformin, but she was hoping to get off of it because her A1C was 6.1% but her endo didn’t think that was a good idea.

“Your A1C is 6.1% because of the Metformin!” I said.

“Oh I know,” she replied, and then added: “I’m just doing everything I can so I don’t have to go on insulin.

Call me crazy, but I felt a little offended! I’m not entirely sure why, because it’s not like I like being on insulin. I’d avoid insulin too, if I had the choice! And it’s not like I have these lovey-dovey feelings toward insulin. I take it because I have to, that’s all. But I couldn’t help but feel a little defensive! Like she was somehow attacking me or people who take insulin or something ridiculous like that.

I literally had to swallow the urge to reply, “Being on insulin isn’t so bad!”

I mean, really? God, I can’t believe those words actually ran through my head. How embarrassing.

But of course, I stopped myself. And reminded myself of who I was talking to. I took a few deep breaths and completely agreed with what she said. It is good to avoid the progression of the disease! Yes, it may happen, but what good is saying, “Oh well you’ll probably have to go on it anyway”? Her A1C is 6.1% on metformin alone. That’s awesome! That’s fantastic results. There’s no need for me to go rain on her A1C parade with comments about how wonderful insulin is… especially when it’s not very accurate. Yes, insulin can provide a lot that oral and injectable type 2 drugs can’t do, but insulin also comes with a whole host of other problems. I’ve never met a diabetic medication that didn’t have some sort of issue that came along with it, insulin included!

But it just surprised me that I had such a knee-jerk protective reaction toward taking insulin. Has anyone ever felt quasi-defensive over their diabetes devices?