So, you’ve got diabetes
Post on 14-Jul-2015
So, youve got Diabetes...
Diabetes sucks, but heres a secret: its not the end of the world
Some real world, practical help for my favourite niece, from her (soon to be) favourite uncle.So, youve got Diabetes.......and you have no idea what it means.......besides having a lot to do with the word.....
NO!NO! You cant have that can of coke!NO! Put down that packet of chips!NO! Desert is out of the question!NO! You know Maccas is off-limits!NO! You cant just put your head in the sand!
But Diabetes isnt all about NO!Yes, your life is going to change out of necessity, but change doesnt need to be a negative. You can still do just about all of the things you used to enjoy, we just need to arm you with the knowledge of how to do it. You wont enjoy all of the learning, but you will feel better because of it. I promise you.
First things first.Im not that guy thats going to tell you what to do and what not do to. Im here to help and the best help I can give to you, is hope. Hope that comes from someone whos been through the hardest parts of what youre going through and has managed to get on top of it his own way. And thats the key here, find what works for you.
So this is how were going to do this.........ready?Im going to give you the kind of knowledge and ideas thats so hard to find amongst the hundreds of brochures and fact sheets that youre getting from the hospital or from your visits to your diabetes educator and endocrinologist.(You dont know either of these people yet, but you will soon)
And that knowledge is........practical stuff.Did that just blow your mind, a little?Most of what you already know is enough to get us started.You know by now that the reason youre sick is because your pancreas has basically failed in its number one function. Why? isnt as important as what it means from here on in and that comes next.
Because of this, we now need to inject the insulin that used to be produced naturally. Right now, youre still going to be producing some of your own, so I like to call these first few weeks/months Diabetes with training wheels.
Most docs will refer to it as The Honeymoon period. It all amounts to the same thing; youre getting some help naturally for the time being, until you stop producing your own insulin. This isnt always good though and youll be pulling your hair out at times when your blood glucose readings are out of whack. Remember this though: weve all gone through the same thing and it always gets better.
Heres a rainbow to prove it.The stuff that matters mostAlright, the next thing Im going to tell you is probably the toughest part tograsp at the beginning. That said (like the rest of what I will teach you) it getseasier with practice and patience. Always remember that, because you willwant to chuck it all in at one point or another. Just stick to it.
Its called Carb Counting and I think its the #1 thing that the medical guys should be helping teach you to begin with, but they dont. What is it and whys it matter?
Put simply, carb counting is what we need to do when we decide how much insulin to inject at meal time.This is important because the dosage has to be as close to correct as we can get it, otherwise were running into hypos or hypers (Ill tell you about them soon).We only need to worry about the carbohydrate because that is the substance that our body can no longer access without insulin. Counting carbs can be trickySo how do we do it?Nutritional InformationBefore we ever inject a meal-time dose of insulin, make sure you know what youre eating. More to the point, how many grams of carbs are in it. This is where the nutritional information on food packages come into play. For a while, forget that sugars figure on packages. It will only confuse you to begin with. Just focus on the total carbohydrate in your meal.
Now, were usually told that for every 15 grams of carbs in a meal, we take around 1 unit of insulin. Say the meal you want to eat contains 30 grams of carbs, that would mean we would shoot for two units of insulin. Not so hard is it?Heres an example:
That right there is the most important number for us. Just worry about that for the mean time and youll do well.31g divided by 15gs per unit of insulin, gives us 2 units.
Thats some real world math for you.Now that we know how much insulin to take, wecan take our injection, eat our meal and if oursums were correct, well feel just the same asalways.Congrats. You just won your first battle vs. Diabetes!
Not so bad, is it?You just need to remember to do your best to know your food. Know the food youre eating and you take away a lot of the fear of managing your diabetes. Youll be able to keep those blood sugars down and that will help you lead a long, healthy life.
Sounds good, yeah? Well.......now comes the bad part.
Remember before when we did our sums?When we get it right, its all happy times and we feel great about it all. As Ive mentioned before to you though, patience and knowledge are your two best friends. And heres why: managing diabetes is not a perfect science. It can be hard, frustrating work sometimes and no matter the work you put into it, your results wont always come out the way you expect.
Itll happen more than you will want too.This is where we you will run into the most frightening (and sucky) part of diabetes: hypos.
Some technical stuff firstYoull be aware of this by now, but Hypo is short for Hypoglycemia. Thats a term that basically means low blood glucose. For all of the work educators and medical staff put into warning us about the dangers of prolonged high blood sugar, not nearly enough is put into educating us about the dangers of hypos. Were told over and over of how our eye sight, feet and kidneys are stressed under high blood glucose and long term exposure to them can lead to all kinds of trouble down the line.Now, you know that we need to try our best to keep out glucose readings above 4.0 and below 6.9 mmol for our health, but what happens when we drop below 4.0? Bad stuff. Real bad.While high blood glucose can cause us massive problems in the years to come, low blood glucose can cause you trouble NOW. Here is a link to good fact sheet for you to print: Hypoglycemia: International Diabetes InstituteThere is a great irony to our disease and this is it.......Insulin is what keeps us alive.
Yet it is also the most immediate threat to us.
Yup, its true and this is why.When we eat carbohydrates, our blood glucose rises. This is why we take insulin, to allow the glucose out of the blood and into our system. Think of insulin as a form of a key in that respect. In effect, insulin lowers the amount of glucose in our blood. This is great when were doing it right.But remember before when we counted our carbs and did our sums? I mentioned that sometimes we get it wrong. Well, when we get it wrong and we take too much insulin for what we needed, our glucose can drop low. Sometimes dangerously low.When this happens and we suffer a hypo, all the rules you learn about avoiding excessive sugar and carbs go out the window. Hypoglycemia is a life threatening event and you can NEVER forget that. At this point you need a high sugar drink or snack and you need it quickly.Unfortunately though, its a part of what we live with and with my help, youll be better prepared to deal with it when youre faced with it.
Why hypos are the pitsWhen my blood glucose is low, I cant think properlybecause my brain is starved of its fuel. My hands shakeand I get a horrible feeling of anxiousness that is justuncontrollable. Its my bodies reaction to the low levels of glucose and there is no feeling like it.
There is a great video blogger who goes by the name ofDiabeticfriend and he has a nice video on why he hates hypoglycemia. Its worth a watch: Why Low Blood Sugar Sucks!
At the end of the day everyone reacts a little differently tothem, but the symptoms are all treated the same way.
WITH SUGAR!No matter how long youve have the disease, hypos are always frightening, partially because you feel out of control and not yourself. This is natural though and as you experience this for yourself, youll become better at calming yourself and handling it well.
As I was putting this together for you, I suffered a hypo myself, so I decided to film the process to diagnose it and quickly show how to treat it. Its not fun to experience, but you can manage it well enough, I promise you.
Testing Blood for Hypo and Treating Hypo
You can never really predict when a hypo might occur, which is why I want you to always carry around something sugary and you enjoy. For me, its a little box of jellybeans. Three colours only for me, because Im fussy. You love snakes, so maybe that would work for you?Remember the golden rule of hypos is to treat it IMMEDIATELY with sugar. Do not muck around and do not worry about eating bad food.Good
IN CASE OF HYPOI think you can handle that one.You can handle all this new added pressure as well. However.The toughest opponent when dealing with diabetes, isnt your blood glucose, it isnt hypos or doctors visits. It isnt even the injections or prick testing.
The stress and extra pressure we, as diabetics, put on ourselves can be more than any one should ever have to deal with. The worry associated with a disease that you carry around with you 24 hours a day is the sort that can consume you and become an obsession if you let it.
People will tell you hey, forget about it, but you know thats not quite possible. You can never forget. Thats a rule that I live by and it serves me well. But forgetting and worrying are not the same thing.
Remember that you have a few extra daily tasks to do. Remember that you should try and eat and drink healthy. Remember to not skip injections, for whatever reason. But if something goes amiss and you dont understand, dont worry about it. Diabetics are humans too and we all make mistakes.
I speak these words from experience as I know how hard it is, especially at the start. I would stress myself out daily and it nearly broke me. I wrote a blog entry four years ago that I want to share with you and Id like you to read it later on down the track when you settle in. I think it will help you when youre feeling down.The 24 Hour ExamIve come a very long way since that time and I went through the worst period of it on my own. So it can be done, even though sometimes it seems impossible. Ill be here with you right the way through the early months and anything I can do for you, Ill do it.
Sometimes it will just be an ear and I am more than happy to lend you mine whenever you need. Its important though to include your mum and dad in this, because diabetes is a tremendous strain on them as well. The worry they will feel daily isnt all that different from yours. They will worry tremendously about you when youre sick or if youre off with your friends, so try not to keep things to yourself.
You can make managing this disease so much easier if you only remember to share your problems with your support team and ask for help when you need it.
A clich, but sharing your problems really helps.
DIABETES CHECKLISTTry to do your best to take it all in early on. Remember if you feel funny check your blood for hypos and treat them immediately.Always carry around some extra sugary foods or drinks, just in case.The labels on food packages can really help you count those carbs and work out an accurate insulin dose.Never get too down on yourself if things dont work out now and then. It happens and its expected. We all have it happen, no matter how long youve had the disease.Ask questions! Always ask questions if you dont know or are unsure. We want to help you learn.Last of all, remember......
Things always get better. Click to return to blog