10 Big Changes Since Insulin

It’s been just over three months since I started on insulin (and a new-to-me diagnosis that I have Type 1 diabetes rather than Type 2). These three months have been amazing – I feel like I got my life back. Here are the ten major changes that occurred since insulin came into my life:

One: My blood sugar is now under control. This might sound obvious (insulin, duh) but trust me, it wasn’t easy. It has taken me 3 months to strike the elusive balance between (1) insulin dosage, (2) exercise, and (3) carb intake. I often felt like a losing boxer being knocked around this three-poled ring. Truly exacerbating… I still have a lot to learn, but these days, I feel more like a graceful tightrope walker with a smile on her face.

What helped to find this balance? Learning to count carbs (quite a challenge since I’m horrible at maths), writing a food diary, and then having a kind endocrinologist figure out the carb/insulin ratio for my body. She also got me this blood glucose meter that automatically calculates insulin units needed for each meal – I love this devise.

Two: I gained back most of my natural body weight in the first two months – I’m talking about nearly 8 kilograms in two months. Given that I was literally skin and bones before, this is a healthy weight gain. It feels particularly good to have proper functioning muscles again.

Three: I am full of energy every day, nearly all day long. I wake up in the morning and want to dig up dirt to expand my veggie patch. Or move my furniture around the house. Or run outside in the sunshine – before my first coffee. I know, I can’t believe it myself.

Four: My hair stopped falling out like crazy. This was going on for months before insulin – to the point I thought I was going completely bald. At one point I grabbed a pair of scissors and chopped off my hair short in front of a bathroom mirror, because I was sick of looking at long strands of hair everywhere, especially in food I cooked. Yikes!

Five: My old bruises started to heal. I had these ugly, dark bruised-up toes for nearly a year. I have no idea how it happened initially, but it never went away. Then one day recently, I noticed that they were almost gone! Woohoo.

Six: My brain fog has cleared (well, as much as it can clear after two children!). Before insulin, it was so sad having to struggle with the simplest mental tasks, such as making a shopping list. My naturally short attention spun got even shorter, to the point of surpassing my daughter’s – who has ADHD. What was my excuse? Early onset Alzheimers? But no (I hope), it was just my brain not getting any food.

Seven: I can see better, literally. Before insulin, I often had blurry visions. I blamed my optometrist for not prescribing the right contact lenses. But it wasn’t his fault after all. Now that my blood sugar is under control, I see my old contact lenses work just fine.

EightI sleep much better now. Before insulin, I used to wake up 3-4 times a night to go to the bathroom. What a pain! Now I wake up just one time, max.

Nine: I’m back to mostly plant-based diet – and it feels wonderful. I initially chose this diet for health reasons two years ago, persuaded by all the evidence provided in books written by Joel Fuhrman, Neil Barnard and Michael Gregor. Unfortunately, two years ago was when my diabetes took a turn for the worse. Instead of getting better, I got thinner, weaker, and sicker. Everyone – including myself – felt like the diet was failing me.

So I strayed a bit, following advice of GPs, naturopaths, and well-meaning friends and family members who kept advising me to eat more animal protein.

In the end, eating animal protein didn’t help, either. It was insulin that did. Now back on my near-vegan diet, I feel healthier than ever. My omni kids often succumb to germs they catch at school, but I almost never do. Dr. Fuhrman was right after all.

TenI am no longer depressed. For nearly a year before insulin, I hardly smiled, laughed, or found much joy in life. I found my kids more annoying than adorable. These days, I catch myself laughing at my kids’ silly jokes, singing silly songs with them (instead of telling them to be quiet), and just enjoying their cuddly bright presence in my life.

And all it took? Was a bit of insulin. See, amazing.

 

 

 

Type what?

seedy bread breakfast

Hello friends. I’ve been busy wandering in the land of nearly dead – but the good news is I made it back! Okay, that was a bit dramatic, but my health had deteriorated badly after I came back from Japan early this year. I had no energy, lost so much weight, my brain was constantly foggy, most of my hair had fallen out, and I felt depressed. I had also become such a bad mother – yelling at my poor kids for the smallest infractions. Yikes and yikes! What was wrong with me?

I seriously thought I had cancer – or something else equally dreadful.

Turns out though, it was just my diabetes: Type 1 diabetes that is, not Type 2 as I thought I had for three years…. Seriously? Was I misdiagnosed? Or has Type 2 morphed into Type 1 over the years? How is that even possible?

According to my new endocrinologist, I was probably Type 1 from the beginning (and misdiagnosed), but had a long “honeymoon period” where my pancreas was still producing some insulin.

After a few hours on the Internet though, I found there is yet another type of diabetes called LADA, which is also known as Type 1.5. This type of diabetes starts out like Type 2, then ends up in Type 1 somehow. Very confusing. I thought diabetes was black and white – Type 1 or Type 2. What are all these shades of grey? And why didn’t any of the doctors – and I saw about six different doctors over three years – mention this possibility before?

Well, there is no point in pointing (!) fingers at these doctors, or wallowing in retrospective self pity. Big lessons learned here: (1) you can’t trust your doctors – doctors often present themselves as all-knowing, but they are not, especially in complex areas like diabetes; (2) you need to do your own research, and make your own decisions on how to treat your illness.

Now that I’m on insulin, the change has been dramatic. My energy level has shot up within days, and I have regained 3kg within a week (including a big chunk of muscles I had lost). I can walk for miles again without getting tired – and even run with the kids to school. I’m also getting a renewed thrill out of my home-based business. Life is rosy again.

And the biggest plus side about all this? Thanks to the misdiagnosis, I had already gotten used to this healthy lifestyle of low-carb, mostly plant-based diet, regular exercise, without sugar cravings. See, if I had known I was Type 1 from the beginning, I could have been the kind of “bad” diabetic who’d shoot up heaps of insulin before digging into that cream pie.

Another plus side? I’m no longer constantly hungry. Before insulin, I was eating like a horse because I was hungry all.the.time. My body wasn’t absorbing most of the nutrients. What a waste of good food that was! Now my meals are lighter (like my breakfast this morning in the photo) – and my wallet happier.