#74 - Sugar Blues (Insulin and Me)


I have Diabetes 2.

If you’re sitting in an office behind a desk typing away at a keyboard and you feel the need for a snack you get a candy bar. As far as you know you don’t have diabetes, You may even make a joke about it saying, “I’m working on my Diabetes.” That’s not funny when you find out that you do have it after suffering some fairly dire symptoms like fatigue, frequent trips to the washroom, edema, blurred vision, etc.

You have to clean up your act if you want to get anything resembling good health back. For me this meant diet. Exercise is hard for me because I have arthritis in my knees and back. Diet means low fat, low salt, low sugar and low starch. So it’s green leafy and other vegetables and fruits but watch out for fruit juices because they can contain triple the amount of sugar contained in the original fruit. Same goes for commercial fruit and vegetable cocktails because they contain sugar and are high salt.

It sounds easy when you put it down on paper – low fat, low sugar, low starch, low salt and lots of fresh stuff, Then, you go for a shopping trip to the supermarket and 65 to 75 percent of what you see is what you shouldn’t eat.

I’m was on Gluconorm (repaglinide). It’s a pill that helps control diabetes. Not the same as insulin. It’s for earlier stages of diabetes and, unfortunately, I’m was getting out of the early stage. My blood sugars were off. I had incidents with heart problems. I was not feeling very good and had tremendous headaches, dizziness, brain fog and blurred vision, all the bad things. Diabetes affects the weaker parts of your system and I have a mild case of congestive heart disease. My doctor got right on it and she gave me more pills. It’s always more pills. She told me to start exercising and I said “How?” She said, “ You’re smart. You’ll think of something.”

Well, I can’t walk very far and I can’t run due to arthritis in my knees. My stamina is almost invisible. Exercise is hard. It was getting too hard. It’ was almost time for *THE NEEDLE*, something I’d tried to avoid.

I’ve been good. I’ve been what they call ‘compliant’. To the best I’ve my ability I’d done the recommended things to keep my diabetes in check but “Hey!” they were starting not to work anymore. This is a real drag because I’m going down the supermarket aisles reading the labels. I’m checking for sugar, for salt, for the wrong kind of fat, noticing if it’s not whole grain, etc. etc. Finally, I choose some high fiber digestive cookies that are low in sugar, fat and salt. When I told the diet specialist at my diabetic clinic that I was eating Cheerios she went “GASP”. Then said, “Get some bran buds and add them to your bowl of Cheerios. This makes the uptake of the starch/sugar slower, reducing the spikes in blood sugar. It gets into your bloodstream gradually instead of all at once.

I was getting tired of all this. It was hard to shop, hard to cook. Every time I went past the Ice cream freezer in the supermarket I’d think, “Oh, well, can’t have any of that, sugar and fat.”

I don’t want to be compliant any more. I’m tired of it. It’s not helping. I’m feeling quite annoyed. I want to go out and eat all the things I’m not supposed to but even if I wanted to, I can’t because I have GERDS, an acid reflux complaint. If I eat a piece of cake or too much bread, anything that is too starchy it comes back to haunt me. I can’t even lie down after indulging since that brings the acid reflux on. This is a nuisance but I sort of keeps me on the straight and narrow but I’m really tired of being on the straight and narrow. I don’t know what the next step will be. I guess I’ll find out since I’m going back to the Clinic soon. Pray for me.

This is what happened.

I went to the diabetic clinic. They looked at my blood sugar numbers and figured out, guess what, that Gluconorm (repaglinide) pills, which help to control blood sugar by increasing the amount of insulin released by the pancreas, were no longer working since there was no longer enough insulin being produced by my body for it to do its job. No surprise there. What was the next step – taking insulin through an insulin pen and a short, sharp needle.

I got the prescribed pen, needles and alcohol wipes but the diabetic nurse was not available immediately. I had an appointment for 6 weeks away. This was not satisfactory.

I went on YouTube and watched three videos there, one by a user and two by registered nurses. I watched them several times. Subcutaneous injection is not rocket science. I could do it and I did! It doesn’t hurt that much, less than testing for blood sugar levels. I’m very careful to check for air bubbles and have a checklist to follow. I’m feeling a lot better and can think more clearly. Insulin is a good thing!

Written Saturday, October 31, 2009

Addendum 2023: Still on insulin 14 years later. Works well. My A1C was 6.5 when last taken.
( a test that measures the level of hemoglobin A1c in the blood as a means of determining the average blood sugar concentrations for the preceding two to three months)
I’m still careful with my diet. Insulin is not a license to eat cake ??

I take two types of insulin now. I take a fast acting one a mealtimes 3x a day and for overnight I take a longer acting insulin called Lantus. I use my Amazon Echo smart speakers to remind me when it’s time to take a dose. I’m older now but still in good health. Thankfully, in Canada, insulin is not too expensive.

Bottom line is listen to your doctor, take you meds and you can live well with diabetes. Once or twice a year, on holidays I eat a bit of cake and enjoy it. I still watch my diet. Insulin is not an excuse to eat high sugar foods. My doctor says, “Everyone should eat like a diabetic“.