Diabetes: A Wake-Up Call

This past summer, I got the wake-up call. The last thing I ever expected happened: I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I admit to being overweight, and leaning on the junk food a little too much lately, but I thought since I was active and tried to minimize my sugar I was safe. Sadly, I was wrong.

The doctor who gave me the news explained normal blood levels to me and made it clear that mine were too high. The important thing she wanted me to do was to go on the medication she prescribed (Metformin) and start to change my lifestyle.

I went back for another test, a more comprehensive one, and saw another doctor. A lot of people had given me the indication that type 2 diabetes was easy to reverse, but the doctor I had seen before told me that even if I do reverse it, there is a good chance it will come back to me later in life. Even with the insulin or pills, you still need to carefully manage your diet, your exercise, and monitor your blood sugar levels. You become at risk of so many ailments from minor ones like fast dips in your blood sugar level leaving you without energy, to amputation of limbs and blindness.

Fortunately, there is a lot of help and support out there for those with diabetes. I am just starting to get my diet to a point where my blood sugar levels stay around the optimal 7.0 mark on the testing device I was given. The first thing to go was sugar for my coffee and tea. Next, on my sister’s suggestion, I cut most bread out of my diet, though I do occasionally have a whole wheat bun with things such as tuna (with a little low-fat mayonnaise mixed in), or a vegetable burger.

Another thing I have ended up doing can be hard to take. When I go to the grocery store, even to the organics aisle, I read the label on everything I think about buying. You have to read labels with extreme care. A lot of food producers can trick you by properly listing the amount of fat or calories in an item you want to buy, but then when you read all of the label you find that the amounts quoted apply only to a 1/4 serving of what the container holds. Let the buyer beware!

We are very lucky to live in a society where medications like Metformin and insulin are readily available, and there are many more resources like the class on managing diabetes I took through Alberta Health Services.

In a way, I have been enjoying my new diet and the exercise I do to go along with it. I often walk from McCauley to Westmount and swim a few laps then walk back. It does my mood a world of good to get outside in the fresh air and sunshine, and I have already lost just over 20 pounds. Diabetes may not be able to be completely beaten, but it can be managed and there is hope for people who have the illness.

Leif is a writer in McCauley. Most of his books are available at the Edmonton Public Library, in both paperback and eBook.

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