Recently, I decided that I needed to start insulin treatment to manage my diabetes. This all happened after I went on vacation and my blood glucose went out of control because I didn’t do all the excessive exercise I was doing every day to manage it for a couple of days (cardio and strength training plus walking after every meal). Once I woke up with a fasting glucose of over 170 mg/dL one of the days and not feeling very good after eating, I spent the rest of the trip worrying about ending up in the hospital, which was extremely stressful. I never want to have another experience like that again so I decided to take action.
My doctors and diabetes care team have been extremely supportive of my decision to start treatment. I was referred to a diabetes educator nurse and a second nutritionist as things are a little bit different now with insulin on board. The diabetes educator nurse thought it was amazing that I had managed it all this time with just diet and exercise. You see, I was originally diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. However, I eventually got the GAD antibodies test done and tested positive and my c-peptide test was a bit on the low side (although not super low). This puts me in the type 1.5 diabetes category, which is a slow onset type 1 diabetes that happens in adulthood. Some type 1.5’s produce enough insulin for a while and may even do well on pills for a couple of years while others may be at the stage where they’re insulin deficient and need insulin. I think I must be a bit insulin deficient at this point given that we tried a couple of pills and nothing seemed to happen.
Although at first we were not certain if I was a type 2 or type 1.5, it’s starting to look like I may be a type 1.5 after all. All the doctors and diabetes care team members I have seen indicated that I must be a 1.5 given my test results, being underweight, and the fact that the meds didn’t do anything. The meds I tried stimulate the pancreas to release insulin, but in my case, it seems there’s not enough insulin to squeeze out of it. They say I’m probably still in a “honeymoon” phase, where my pancreas is still producing a bit of insulin. Of course, this means that I have to get used to the idea of being on insulin for the rest of my life, which is hard to come to terms with. I was hopeful that there was a mistake and I was a type 2 and that the antibodies were just “there” but weren’t the cause of my blood sugar imbalances. This gave me the hope that maybe I could be on insulin for a while to give my pancreas a break, put some weight and muscle back on, and eventually just end up managing it with a pill, diet, and exercise. I don’t think that’s going to be the case for me anymore.
Although I am disappointed, I have to remember that uncontrolled diabetes is worse than having to take a bit of insulin every day. From my vacation experience where my blood sugars went off kilter, it was pretty clear to me that it’s a bit dangerous for me to continue running around without treatment. As my husband told me, previously people died early from diabetes because there weren’t any treatment options available. Now we have treatment options available and the convenience of being able to monitor our blood glucose levels whenever we want. Also, as my nutritionist had told me, I should be able to eat without fear. She thought it seemed like I was just “existing” and not “living”, which was completely spot on. I really need to start “living” again because the lifestyle I have right now is not sustainable for the rest of my life.