February 14, 2014
One Thousand: A Cautionary Tale
Diabetes is not much fun: forbidden sweets, mealtime finger pricks, the dreaded syringe. Last October, my left knee swelled up like a basketball and I went in for surgery to drain the abscess. Being a Type 2 diabetic, this made the healing process more difficult and the complications dicey. After a week of recovery in-hospital, I was released to my parents’ care, with a wound-vacuum for the recuperating leg, but was re-admitted a week later, delirious and incoherent.
My glucose level was over 1,000.
After another four days, I was re-released. My entire life had been changed, twice. Allow me to share some observations, please.
DO NOT LIE. When a concerned or curious person asks you how you are doing, speak plainly. When loved ones ask what your morning sugar was, tell them. When you are questioned about your food log, share it. If I had been truthful about missing meals, sleeping through medicine deadlines or sweets consumed, my family and loved ones would have whupped… that is, they would have staged an intervention to prevent me from reaching the stage of ketoacidosis.
EAT REGULARLY. Do not starve yourself, thinking to lower your sugars by skipping a meal. Do not eat at the all-you-can-cram-in-your-piehole buffet, thinking it will last you. If you are a reasonably intelligent person, you know what to eat and when. I’ll tell you, anyway. Eat more veggies. Drink more water. Eat smaller meals, but more often (four to five mini-meals should do). Eat socially, not alone. Decrease the salt and fat intake.
DO STUFF. Thanksgiving and Christmas are seasonal occasions. The other 360-odd days, you need to do something beside veg-out in front of the tube (TV or ‘puter) afterwards. Walk a few blocks. Take out the trash. Walk the dog. Ride a bike. I know it’s a horrible cliché, but the best plan for diabetic health is “eat better and exercise more.”
DON’T PLAY DOCTOR JECKYLL. If your doctor tells you to inject 10 units, three times a day, do it. Do not “adjust” your medicines to make your numbers look good. A sister-in-law used to guzzle sodas and scarf down snack foods, then increase her insulin shots before visiting the doctor. Before she died at age 44, she had lost her sight, gained over 50 pounds in water weight and lost her mobility to nerve damage. This was in addition to a liver and pancreas transplant. If your physician advises you to take a booster shot of insulin, or to take an extra metformin, when your glucose is high do it. However, self-adjusting your diabetic meds is as foolish as using alcohol to lower your stress levels and as suicidal as playing “chicken” with a locomotive.
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR LIFE. Daily, write down your sugar level. Keep a log of your meals, both time and content. Note any weight or other changes in your body. Look in the mirror. Keep a calendar. A big one, with room for notations. If you skip a day, you will not remember. Yes, the glucometer has a memory feature. Use that as a form of “suspenders-and-belt.” In my case, the keto’ left me with spotty recall; some things no longer stick to my Teflon brain.
It may seem narcissistic, using myself as the subject here, but I speak from experience. The knee, with surgery back in October, is still very slow to heal. I cannot support much on it. I cannot walk far. I tire easily. I have to rely on family, friends and the government for support. Learn from my mistakes.
Don’t be stupid. Watch your sugars.
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