Now, I am not a doctor and I don’t play one on T.V. but after living with diabetes for seven years I’ve learned some things that I haven’t seen while researching diabetes. Most of the things you learn are the basics, e.g., that diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. In order to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy you need insulin. The cause of diabetes is genetic with environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise likely to hasten the onset. My hope is if you are having difficulty with some aspect of diabetes this article may provide some insight to you. As always, check with your doctor prior to incorporating any changes to your daily regimen as each person is unique and may or may not have success with my experiences.
CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
Before I was diagnosed with diabetes I went to several doctors with a complaint about my hands feeling severe pain. I especially felt it during a swing of a golf club. I was told I had CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) but I wondered how I could get something like that since I didn’t spend that much time on my computer keyboard. I was also skeptical of the diagnosis because the nurse practitioner treating me left the room before reaching a verdict then returns and tells me I have CTS. I guess she discussed my symptoms with the presiding doctor. Later that week, I read an article saying that if your doctor diagnoses you with CTS ask him to give you a simple blood test to rule out more serious diseases like cancer and diabetes. I showed the article to my doctor who agreed and lo and behold when the test came back it showed I had diabetes.
I had a sharp, shooting pain in my hands, legs and feet all at various times. My doctor suggested exercise. I didn’t like jogging because I seem to aggravate my right knee when I do run. I have easy access to a pool but don’t really enjoy it enough but I liked the idea of riding a bicycle around my neighborhood. The fresh air, meeting neighbors and taking it light on my knee seemed appealing to me. The trick is to find some form of exercise you can tolerate and keep up with. If you don’t like jogging chances are you won’t maintain the exercise required. You need ninety minutes of exercise a week.
I usually like to exercise during the late afternoon but because of a hot spell I decided to exercise during the morning to escape the hot weather. To my surprise my glucose readings were somewhat high before dinner. So I went back to exercising at 4 p.m. and my glucose reading fell back considerably. I reasoned that my biggest meal of the day was dinner and exercising a few hours before dinner helped regulate my glucose. Also, I noticed my readings weren’t affected much when I exercised 15 minutes, or even twenty minutes. It seemed to me that I wasn’t benefitting from that amount of time spent exercising. But when I extended it to 25 and especially 30 minutes, I noticed the difference. My appetite wasn’t as ravenous and I felt better overall. But best of all, the nerve damage to my legs and hands were gone. No more numbness in those areas as well. The only complaint I had was the amount of time it took me to get there, 3 – 6 months. Aren’t we all impatient? I was so encouraged by the results that exercising has become a way of life for me. Now I bicycle 3 to 4 miles per day, 5 days a week. In fact, on the days that I do miss my workout I feel guilty.
I recently had a continuous spell of high glucose readings of which I had no rational explanation as to why. My exercise regimen was usual and my eating habits and weight were the same. I began taking Glyburide once a day. Even that didn’t work. Concerned, I made a doctor’s appointment and thanks to my doctor asking questions (innocuous I thought at the time) it turned out that I had an infection on my arm. As soon as I took the antibiotics, my glucose levels returned to where they previously were. I cut the pills in half (from 5 milligrams to 2.5) because when I was first prescribed the Glyburide I was not told about the side effects of the medication. I remember walking in the park and feeling terrible. I thought I was going to die. I made it home and took a glucose reading and was alarmed that it was 35. (Normal is between 70 and 125.) I called my doctor and relayed what was going on and they advised me to get some sugar in my body. I did and felt better within minutes. Today, I keep tomato juice in my refrigerator in case I need it. Don’t make the mistake I made and try to raise your blood sugar with food. Food will take 15 minutes to digest and may raise it over the level you want thereby negating your goal.
After taking the Glyburide during my fight with that infection, I had an Hba1c test and I was surprised that my lipid profile improved considerably. Also, I am glaucoma-suspect and my eye pressure level was reduced 26%! Is there a correlation between Glyburide and my improvements in these areas — I don’t know but I anxiously await my next quarterly blood lipid test.
There is a positive side to diabetes. Now I’m forced to exercise, watch what I eat and keep tabs on my weight. None of which I did before. The result from all this is a healthier lifestyle, less complications from diabetes and a longer lifespan. Diabetes can be manageable. Consider it a wakeup call to a healthier lifestyle.
I can’t stress enough that before you make any changes to your daily regimen to talk it over with your doctor. Write all of your questions down before you go in and if you’re too shy to ask, hand him your piece of paper.