How Diabetes Turned My Life Upside Down
Updated: Jan 17
I’ve always had a very sweet tooth, but on the whole I was actually fairly sensible with my sugary consumption. When I stopped drinking coffee that meant the only sugar I was adding to my food was on my cereal. Yes, I’d enjoy a piece of cake and the occasional chocolate bar - but not on a daily basis. When my father was diagnosed with diabetes I should have paid more attention to what I was consuming. In many cases type-2 diabetes is hereditary. In this blog I write about my experiences with type-2 diabetes, and what I’m trying to do to help myself.
Regular Blood Tests
As soon as dad got diagnosed with his diabetes, I went to get a blood test every year. I figured it was the best way forward. Until recently, the last blood test I’d had was about six years ago. Time ran away with me, it became nearly impossible to make appointments at the doctors, and to be honest I was feeling fine anyway so didn’t think any more of it. There is no reason why I suddenly decided to get a blood test last April. I didn’t have anything wrong with me. I hadn’t lost weight. I didn’t have pins and needles. I wasn’t urinating any more that you’d expect from someone who drinks as much water as I do. But something in my brain was niggling me to get a test, so I booked one.
The doctor called me and said that she’d like to talk to me following the results of my recent blood test. I made an appointment and went to see her. It was my first time since moving into the village three years ago, that I’d needed to see the doctor. She asked me all the questions about weight, passing water, pins and needles, etc. and was absolutely flabbergasted when I said that I had experienced none of them. She told me that I was diabetic. At that precise moment, my life, as I knew it, was over. To compound this news she told me that the previous blood test I’d had about six years previously had flagged up that I was pre-diabetic…but I hand’t been told that. All I’d been told was that my levels were fine!
Change Of Lifestyle
I’ve always been a fairly active person. I love walking, though have to confess sometimes the motivation to do so escapes me. I suddenly found that I could no longer enjoy the foods I used to enjoy. I suddenly found that I had to be careful about what I was drinking. I had, in the past tried to follow a sensible diet but it does get difficult. As a single person I had always struggled to cook meals and not overload my plate. Supermarkets don’t make it easy as they sell everything in bulk packs which means that unless you have a massive freezer and can store 20 meals or more you end up eating more than you perhaps should so you don’t have to store too much. Buying individual ready-meals while portion controlled - isn’t ideal as it’s expensive and likely unhealthy.
Yes, I am very well aware that I could go to the butcher and buy just the right amount of meat I need, and then go to the greengrocer and buy just the amount of veg I need. But I have a life that doesn’t give me much time to go out shopping…or more to the point, spend an afternoon driving around to get to the various places! I then decided to look into the companies that supply you with ingredients. This appeared to be a sensible solution as you’d get just the ingredients you needed, in the sizes you need. This meant I could prepare a meal for two, split it in half and freeze a portion for another day. Much better than trying to split a meal into five and finding space to store all that!
Everyone’s An Expert
The issue I had though was that everyone was an expert. “Oh, you don’t want to be doing Hello Fresh, it’s full of fat!” - NO IT’S NOT - I’ve gone for a calorie controlled menu. “You’ll have to start drinking diet drinks” - NO I WON’T - I will not poison myself with stuff full of sweeteners. I’ll either go without or I’ll find a naturally sugar free alternative that doesn’t use sweeteners. “You can still have fruit juice” - NO I CAN’T - although natural, it still contains sugar which if unused will get converted into fat. One of the reasons I am diabetic is not because I am overweight, but because my pancreas is fat. There is no correlation between obesity and diabetes. As soon as I was diagnosed I did a LOT of reading. I read books by a professor and doctor who has been researching diabetes for over 25 years.
The biggest thing I learnt was that everything you eat and drink gets converted into fat…no matter what it is. The idea about having more protein to help you lose weight is a myth. If you take on too much protein it converts into fat. Carbs turn into fat if not used. Sugar converts into fat if not used. I’ve always listened to my body and if I get an adverse reaction to something I’ve consumed then I will drink more water and avoid the item(s) while my body corrects itself. I’ve found that my body reacts differently every time. But here’s the kicker, every one responds differently to things so when I’m met with “When I do such and such this happens…”. Well that’s you, I’m not you so I’d like to find out for myself thanks!
Watching What I Consume
There were several things that I knew I shouldn’t have anymore. The shocker was the fruit juice. While the packets can say “totally natural”, “no added sugar”, etc, the fact is that very often this simply isn’t true. Professor Roy Taylor in his book “Life Without Diabetes” expands on this fact brilliantly. There are some fruits that I should avoid as a diabetic, but others that are “okay”. It literally was a complete lifestyle change and it affected me mentally in a big way. I felt that I wasn’t allowed to enjoy my life any more. I felt that everything I once loved I wasn’t allowed any more. I felt that now I was diabetic, everyone would be watching me and telling me what I should and shouldn’t have!
I came to the conclusion, that I could eat and drink whatever I wanted. It would be down to me to put up with the reaction my body gave if I decided to snack on a meringue nest or three (I’ve NEVER done that). The only person I’d ever be letting down by not following the guidelines, would be myself. The only person I’d be deceiving by consuming things I shouldn’t is myself. But type-2 diabetes is reversible. It can never be cured but it can be put in remission. The only way I’ll succeed in doing that is by watching what I consume and yes there’ll be times that I “fall off the wagon”. It’s very easy to blame circumstances and situations for “being bad” but it’s all down to me to make a choice.
Living In Fear
I refuse to live in fear. You hear stories about people who have to have limbs amputated. You read about how diabetes reduces your life expectancy by up to about six years. But life is for living, and unless I become an ascetic monk (not going to happen) I’m going to enjoy my life as best I can. Yes, there is a very real chance things could get worse if I don’t manage my diabetes. But as long as I do everything in moderation and make an effort, my blood sugar levels will continue to fall. There are support groups available and loads of literature to help you. You just need to find that which works for you personally. What works for one may not necessarily work for another.