Tag Archive for Type 2 Diabetes

I’m surrendering to my diabetes and throwing in the towel for this week; we’ll be back on Monday

I’m literally trying to save my life here.

I’ve been struggling with my diabetes for over a year, ever since my wife lost her job during the first pandemic lockdown, forcing major changes to my working habits.

That was exacerbated by a switch to Kaiser this year, forcing a change in one of the key medications that I’ve been on almost since my diagnosis seven long years ago.

Let’s just say that has not gone well.

The last two weeks have been the worst, however. I’ve struggled to get my blood sugar below 200 mg/dL — twice the normal level — while dealing with spikes as high as 250.

Any higher, and I’d be writing this from the emergency room.

As it is, I’ve been passing out from blood sugar spikes after nearly every meal, as the normal spikes after eating are compounded by a much higher baseline.

Which is what happened Monday night, when I passed out after dinner, and couldn’t wake enough to clear my head for over 16 hours.

As a result, I’ve made the difficult decision to put this site on hold for a few days, and take the rest of the week off to try and do something about my health.

It was not an easy choice to make.

I’ve always felt an obligation to post something here every day. Especially during the pandemic, on the assumption that you needed a few minutes of distraction as much as I did. Even if the news wasn’t what we all wanted to read sometimes.

In all honesty, though, it hasn’t been easy.

I’ve often found myself struggling to write after — or during — a blood sugar spike or crash, both of which can knock me on my ass for hours.

That’s on top of a change in my working hours with my wife home, when the work I used to do on this site during the day, while she was at work, shifted to the late night hours after she went to bed.

Which also shifted to later, since she didn’t have to get up in the morning.

That meant putting these pages, and myself, to bed after 4 am most mornings.

Add a puppy to that mix, and the extra time needed to care for it, and I’ve found myself getting to bed while the sun is rising lately.

The result has been a steady drop in my sleeping hours, accompanied by a steady increase in my A1C — rising from a pre-pandemic 6.1, to this year’s 8.3.

Or to put it another way, from a healthy non-diabetic level, controlled with medication, to uncontrolled diabetes.

So my plan is to take the next few days off, and get as much sleep as I can — or my wife and dog will allow, anyway — in hopes of lowering my blood sugar levels.

If not, I’ll be forced to make some hard decisions I really don’t want to make. Including the possibility, if not likelihood, of going on daily insulin shots.

Never mind the damage I’m doing to my body.

Either way, I’ll be back on Monday to make a fresh start. I hope to see you back here then, although I understand completely if anyone has had enough of our semi-regular schedule over the past 17 months.

Lord knows I have.

And I’ll be here if there’s any breaking news in the meantime.

But if you really want to help, keep your fingers crossed that someone, somewhere, gives my wife a job so we can both get our lives back.

Today’s post, in which I win the genetic lottery, or why you haven’t seen me on my bike — or anywhere else — lately

These numbers now run my life, not the ones found on my bike computer.

Well that sucks.

I’ve ridden a bike for most of my adult life, in part, to avoid the heart disease that killed my father, and the diabetes my mother suffered from for over 40 years.

My heart is fine.

My mother developed Type 2 diabetes in her 40s, after struggling with her weight most of her adult life. And my grandmother on my dad’s side of the family suffered from Type 1 her entire life, even though she was so skinny she’d disappear if she turned sideways.

Despite that, I’d been assured by countless doctors over the years that my high fitness level, combined with a bout with hypoglycemia — basically, the opposite of diabetes — in my 20s meant I had little risk of developing the disease.

So much for that.

In retrospect, the first clue something was wrong came when my weight dropped from a muscular 185 to a still fit 160. Something I put off to the stress of dealing with the dramatic decline in income as my copywriting clients cut back on advertising, and the contacts I’ve built over my career were laid off or moved on to other jobs.

I also had trouble building and maintaining muscle, having to ride longer and harder just to stay at the same level, which I assumed was just part of getting older.

Then last summer, I started having difficulty sleeping at night and staying awake during the day, something I once again put off to stress.

I often found myself feeling too tired to ride, my mileage dropping from over a hundred miles a week to maybe 50 to 60 on a good month.

In fact, I was tired all the time. I would get up in the morning, walk the dog, then go back to sleep for another couple hours. And sometimes sleep again in the afternoon, and doze off with my computer on my lap while writing at night.

I sometimes found myself dressed and ready to ride, only to put my bike back up and go back for a nap. Even driving wasn’t an option, too tired to feel safe behind the wheel.

Note to motorists: If you’re not alert behind the wheel, you don’t belong there. Period.

Then after the past holiday season, things took a nose dive.

My weight dropped again, until I weighed just 150 pounds — something I hadn’t seen since I was a 5’2” defensive tackle in junior high school. And whatever muscle I had left melted away, taking my energy with it.

In other words, I lost my ass. Literally.

As well as every other muscle in my body, including those legs I’d proudly honed for over 30 years, until I looked more like my grandmother than I ever wanted.

I cancelled meetings, even ones I was supposed to lead. And stayed home planning to write or work on this site instead, only to accomplish little or nothing. After all, it’s hard to get any work done when you’re sleeping or too tired to think.

A trip to the doctor, followed by a blood test, only confirmed what, by then, I already knew.

I had inherited my mother’s illness, to go along with the devilish good looks and rapier wit I got from my dad.

I’m diabetic.

Type 2, to be exact. Although my doctor is reluctant to call it that because I’m so far out of the norm for that disease, dramatically underweight instead of over.

In the last 10 days, since I got the diagnosis, my life has changed dramatically.

I’ve gone from eating as much as I want because I knew I’d burn it off riding, to carefully structured meals with limited portions. From a diet rich in whole grains to one in which I have to count every carb.

I’ve gotten used to being hungry most of the time. As well as testing my blood multiple times a day to determine what effect what I last ate had on my blood sugar levels.

Meanwhile, I’d kill for a decent beer. Or a crappy one, for that matter.

And a cinnamon roll, please.

My already low energy levels have crashed; even walking the few blocks to the corner drugstore can be exhausting. Which means my bike sits in my office where it’s been since CicLAvia, waiting for the day I feel strong enough to get back on it.

And how I’m going to pay for it, I have no idea. Even with my wife’s insurance, I’ve added over $100 a month in prescription costs alone. Not to mention countless co-pays for all those doctor visits.

On the plus side, I’m not on insulin. Yet.

Between diet and medication, I’ve got my blood sugar down from a resting count north of 400 —over four times what it should be — to 250. Still dangerously high, but moving in the right direction. And I’ll be meeting with a dietician this week to try and work out a meal plan that will allow me to put weight back on and get back into shape without causing my levels to spike.

And maybe I won’t be so hungry all the time.

On the other hand, I’m feeling, if not good, at least better than I have in months, and back to doing most of my sleeping at night and in bed. And I’m hoping to be back on my bike in time for Bike Week next month.

Although all most of my bikewear now falls off my overly skinny ass. So if any bike shops or manufacturers want to trade some smaller kits for an ad on here, let me know.

As for the long-term, my doctor says my chances of overcoming this are somewhere south of zero. Which means, at best, a lifetime of glucose monitoring and watching what I eat; at worst, the same insulin dependency my mother lived with until the day she died.

But it is a manageable condition. And something I can live it.

Which is good, since I may not have any choice.

One thing bicycling has taught me, though, is that I can do anything I set my mind to. Whether it’s getting up that hill or somehow pedaling back home when I’m too exhausted to turn the crank another time.

So I will be back on my bike. If not now, then soon. And riding at the same level I always have. If not better.

And if this can be beaten, I will.

If not, it sure as hell isn’t going to beat me.

 

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