I’m 38. Almost 39 but I won’t be 39 before that exact day, thankyouverymuch. I’m overall pretty healthy. I’ve had some health complications the past few years thanks to endometriosis and adenomyosis. I get migraines from time to time. But, in the world of a daily-busy mom of two, I get my ish done and I take care of myself. I work out, try to eat right, take in that good sunshine (when the Earth isn’t literally scorching), and sleep is a favorite hobby of mine.
I also just got diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.
My husband works for a huge company that “asks” us to complete a Biometric Screen annually. We have to do it to prove we are not smokers and to avoid an additional huge surcharge on our health insurance premium. The requirement was suspended in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 but this year, we were back at it. I dutifully went to his office and a lovely nurse took my height, weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, and a vial of my blood for testing my cholesterol, for the lack of the nicotine derivative that would prove I don’t smoke, and for reporting my glucose (blood sugar).
My weight was the lowest it had been in years, my cholesterol was perfect, my blood pressure the picture of health. But that glucose, man. That glucose. 280 fasting. For anyone who may not be familiar, your fasting glucose should be somewhere below 100. Cool, mine was nearly three times that.
My heart started racing as I looked at the results because I knew what it meant immediately. I was diabetic. There was no argument around it. The beast that nearly bested my dad, had plagued my grandmother, and had dogged me through two full-term pregnancies, had finally come for me. But I wasn’t going to take it laying down.
After some tears, a rousing game of “worst case scenario” with my husband (you “This is Us” fans feel me on this), and several denial-laden “this is fine”s later, I made an appointment to see my general practitioner. In those initial days, I was angry. I had ZERO symptoms of being a diabetic. I FELT FINE – HOW IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?
I spent the next 4 weeks while waiting for my appointment completely terrified to eat. Thankfully I could check my glucose at home with an old monitor from my pregnancy days but that information wasn’t too helpful. In fact, it scared the crap out of me. Unmedicated, I couldn’t even look at a carbohydrate without hitting at least 200. I hit 303 after a small bowl of steel-cut oats with almonds and blueberries. So I tightened my carb-belt and bought alllllllll the keto stuff until I could see my doctor and get on some meds. I was cranky. I really like bread. But I wasn’t letting this thing get worse while waiting to see a doctor.
But here’s the thing. Even though my glucose was out of control, I myself was starting to regain control. I had dealt with gestational diabetes twice. My dad had been Type 2 since before I was born. I knew the basic mechanics of the kind of life I was about to embark on (a little medical caveat here, though: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes could be three different diseases because the processes inside your body are SO different but the carb management for Type 2 and gestational can at least be considered similar). I read a great book on how to manage glucose spikes that extolled the virtues of a continuous glucose monitor. I was ready to face this thing.
I walked into my doctor’s appointment asking for a blood draw for my A1C (a 3-month glance at your average glucose) and my metabolic health (diabetes, when uncontrolled, hurts a lot of stuff in your body – especially your kidneys), meds, a referral to a diabetic-trained nutritionist, and a continuous glucose monitor. Check, check, check, and check. I walked out of that office empowered rather than frightened.
I started really educating myself and changing my habits. I started living out the lessons learned in the book I had read. I bought a keto recipe cookbook that a friend recommended plus all the accompanying alternative ingredients to be able to use said cookbook (almond flour, anyone?). I started following a great diabetic nutritionist on Instagram. And here’s where it got interesting…
I learned that I had actually had nearly all of the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes. I just didn’t know to put that label on it. Sweating? Yup. Peeing all the time? You betcha. Constantly thirsty? Heck yes! Fatigue? Wanting a daily nap is totally normal, right? ALL of these things I had explained away. The sweating must be because of a different medication I’m on. I pee all the time because I drink 100 ounces of water every day. I drink 100 ounces of water every day because I’m “super-duper healthy, y’all!” I’m tired because DUH I’M A MOM. I had found what I thought were legitimate excuses for my body literally screaming at me that something was wrong.
I’m around two months into my official diagnosis. After one month my re-checked A1C had dropped nearly 2 full points. It’s still higher than I want it but after only 30 days, I had made some huge improvements.
I’m also less angry. I’m seeing this as less something that “happened to me” and more of something that has become part of a healthier lifestyle that I’m planning on living forever. I’m finding substitutes for my favorite red flag foods, learning how to incorporate even the splurgiest of splurges guilt-free, and staying on top of all the related health issues that are now going to be part of my annual health checks (eyes, feet, kidney function, etc.).
I’m modeling to my kids that when faced with a health challenge, you rise, not cower. You adapt, not dwell. You fight, not resign. I sure wish I could model this in a slightly easier way, but here we are. Rising, adapting, fighting. Living healthy. Living long.
I‘d still kill for a baguette, though.