I could almost tell you the exact date and time my body rebelled and diabetes reared its ugly head. It was early afternoon in August 1997. I was working really hard on a web site I was building, and I wanted to get it finished up, because I had out-of-town guests coming. I was eating while sitting at my computer (bad idea, but we writers/web designers tend to do that a lot) when this revulsion for what I was eating just washed over me. It was some pasta that was left over from dinner the night before, and, in retrospect, that’s when my body began its rebellion against carbohydrates and sugar.
I got up to throw out what was left on my plate, and this overwhelming fatigue hit me. It was like every single muscle in my body had sand in it instead of muscle, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I had no choice but to lie down and take a nap, and that’s when another main symptom started, which was having to urinate about every 5 minutes. Have you ever tried to sleep while getting up, literally, every 5 minutes or so to go to the bathroom? It’s not really possible, so I dragged around the rest of the day working half-heartedly and visiting the bathroom, wondering what was wrong with me.
Then I started losing weight like crazy without trying at all, and it all just started to fit. My father has diabetes, as does my uncle. I was overweight and had just hit 30 years of age. I would have to have been a bit dense not to see that these symptoms (fatigue, frequent urination, and unexplained weight loss) added up to a diagnosis of diabetes.
I didn’t get an official diagnosis until several months later, though. I was hoping to just curb it with diet and exercise. In the meantime, another symptom popped up, which was a near-constant, intense thirst. I would go grocery shopping and buy vast amounts of fruit, water, diet soda pop, fruit juice, and milk. It was all I wanted, because I was just so insatiably thirsty all the time.
When I finally went to the doctor I told her of my symptoms, and she agreed I should be tested. I believe my sugar tested at nearly 300 (it’s supposed to be 80 to 120), and my long-term sugar tested in the range of 8 or 9 (it’s supposed to be around 4).
So we devised a treatment plan that included medication (Glucophage), exercise, and counseling with a nutritionist. The Glucophage worked well for keeping my sugars within range most of the time. And I learned a lot of interesting methods for lowering my blood sugar. Interestingly, simply exercising will lower it immediately for the short term. I enjoyed doing little “tests” like testing my sugar, then getting on my treadmill for 20 minutes, then testing it again and seeing the drop!
That “physical evidence” in the form of number proof from those tests helped me really match up how I felt with what was going on in my body. I would get that horrid, leaden feeling in my muscles, especially my legs, and start to feel so tired. And then I would test my sugar; and it would always be high. So then I would get on the treadmill, test again, see that the number was lower, and notice that I didn’t feel that dead-weight feeling any longer.
I was happy with this process (medication and exercise) for a couple of year until something new started to happen. My body wasn’t responding as well to the Glucophage as it used to and same for the exercise. My numbers were consistently higher, even though I was on the same routine, and I was feeling terrible. My body was becoming even more insulin-resistant, which can happen.
I was weary of being heavy (I’ve been fighting my weight since before I can remember). I was also truly frightened of the long-term effects of not having my blood sugar under control – mainly blindness and lower limb amputations. So I decided on a new course of action. I decided to have weight loss surgery (more about my weight loss surgery). I had the bilio-pancreatic diversion with duodenal switch in February of 2001, and from the first day after surgery until this day, my sugars have been perfect. I have never again had to take diabetes medication, nor have I suffered diabetic effects.
There is a study out there that alleges weight loss surgery may “cure” diabetes, not just control it. I am not sure if that is true, but it almost seems to be, for the reason that my blood sugar was perfect the very first day after my surgery and has continued to be perfect every day since then. It seems to me that the blood sugar numbers would have gone down gradually if it were only due to my eating less and absorbing less. I believe the bilio-pancreatic diversion truly changes something in the sugar/insulin process in the body.
I feel very fortunate that I am free of this, especially when I see what my father and others go through with diabetes in their older years. I still get my blood sugar tested about once per year. I do this mainly out of curiosity but also because my weight is up a bit from my lowest weight after surgery. My blood sugar remains stable and within normal range to this day.