Life

When Your Doctor Mentions Diabetes, It’s Time to Wake Up!

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One thing I’ll remember about 2020 is being ‘officially’ diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. It’s one more reason I wish this year would go away.

Five years ago, I weighed more than I’ve ever weighed. My doctor told me then I was prediabetic. That meant that if I didn’t make some changes, diabetes was in my future.

Sometimes, we look back on things and wonder why we took the action we did. (In this case, I look back and wonder why I didn’t take action.)

This January, I went to the doctor for the first time in about five years. I turned 50 last November and that’s an age at which you should get a checkup. So, before COVID-19 made its mark, I was able to get that checkup.

The doctor ordered blood work. A week later, he confirmed what I should have kept from happening.

Why didn’t I pay more attention to prediabetes? I really can’t answer that. It’s your true red flag: when a doctor tells you you’re prediabetic, it means you’re headed toward full diabetes. It’s your sign that it’s time to make a change.

I just didn’t make that change. I should have. I’m enough of a hypochondriac that I should have been on top of things. I’m enough of a hypochondriac that I actually had to make myself stop looking up illnesses online because of the fear of illness!

So, five years after that diagnosis, weighing a little less than my highest weight — I’d lost a little weight over the five years without making major changes — I get that news flash.

Good news but a big challenge

My doctor told me my case is mild. Mild as diabetes goes, of course. The blood work showed my A1C, a measure of your average blood-sugar level over the past two to three months, was at 8.8.

Let me give you a working definition of A1C. You want it below a 5.7. That’s the upper end of normal.

Prediabetes begins at 5.7 and that range rises to a 6.4. Above a 6.4 means the diabetes diagnosis.

So I thought the same thing most think when their doctor mentions the D-word.

“Are we talking about insulin injections?” I hated the thought of syringes.

Fortunately, with an A1C that’s relatively low (despite being too high), insulin isn’t part of the picture. He said I’d have to have an A1C above a 12 to worry about that.

My first goal became making sure it never gets anywhere close to a 12.

With a mild case, he recommended more exercise and less sugar. He set my next blood work for May.

That gave me about three-and-a-half months to make a change.

So I did.

I cut out most everything with sugar that I could. I eliminated favorites like Sonic Peanut Butter milkshakes, Wendys Frosties, and any kind of dessert. Cold turkey.

I also cut out snacks that I really, really like. Doritos and microwave popcorn (the Super-Duper Movie Theater Butter-on-Steroids variety was my fave) both found themselves out of my home.

I walked more. I wanted to lose more weight.

May’s blood draw came around. The results showed my A1C dropped to a 6.3. I was back to prediabetes, but still considered diabetic. Once you go there, you stay there unless you can keep your levels down for a long time.

I kept at it. In August, I returned for another blood test. Remember the range for prediabetes? It’s between 5.7 and 6.4.

In August, my A1C was a 5.6.

Normal.

I managed to lose 14 pounds between May and August. Since January, I’ve lost more than 30.

And since my heaviest weight five years ago, I’ve lost more than 60.

I can’t brag about some miracle weight loss of 150 pounds like some. Mine has certainly been slower. But I’m determined to keep it going. I don’t want to go back where I was. And I certainly don’t want the complications common with diabetes to invade my future.

So, yes, I listened to my doctor. There are times, once in a while, when I miss things like carrot cake. I still eat fast food — my job nearly requires it. But I try to make sure I’m balancing the good with the bad as best I can. I’m trying to move more.

And I’m hoping I can keep that pesky little number down.

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2 Comments

  1. I was in the same boat as you, I ignored my doctor’s warning that I was prediabetic and it almost cost me my life. I didn’t know the warning signs of diabetes, my A1C was 11.7! Now I mainly keep it under control with my diet I am not taking any meds but I am still diabetic with an A1C of 6.9.

    Good luck, it seems like you have it under control with your diet. My only advice is to remember it is a lifelong disease and it is always there ready to sneak up and bite you.

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    1. Keeping it under control WITHOUT meds is great! Glad you’re able to do that. In my case, I was able to drop it dramatically with a diet change, but I’m also taking Metformin. My dad has been on that for a few years, but he’s on DOUBLE the dose I’m on. He still eats a lot of snacks that he shouldn’t. I’m hoping if I can maintain this, I might be able to drop the dosage that much further.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.