Sunday, August 23, 2015

Those Two Little Words

"You're diabetic." I was speechless as I heard my doctor say those two little words to me over the telephone. Two little words that turned my life upside down. Two little words that explained so many of the symptoms and issues with which I've been struggling for the past few years but with no real explanation, until now. Two little words that I never expected to hear. After all, I have no immediate family history, no evidence of heart disease, no high blood pressure. I eat an excellent diet relatively free of processed foods and excess sugar or carbs. I try to exercise regularly, and was an endurance athlete throughout most of my adult life for crying out loud! So with no real identifiable risk factors - and the fact that every single one of those little online health tests indicated no diabetic risk - diabetes was simply not on my radar.

I'm still in that "lost" phase of early diagnosis where I'm trying to wrap my head around what all this means and how to come to grips with what my new normal is going to have to be. My diet was already quite good, but I have begun cutting out any processed sugars and "white carbs" wherever I can. I've also made it a point to schedule regular intense exercise for one hour per day at least five days per week. This has been quite a challenge due to the overwhelming fatigue and weakness I continue to experience. Hopefully that is just my body adjusting to the new routine and diet and will improve soon. I'm definitely putting it on my list of questions for the diabetic nutritionist when I go in for counseling though. I am trying to "eat to my meter" in order to try and maintain blood sugars in the appropriate ranges and avoid extreme peaks and valleys if at all possible. And, being a needle weenie, learning to test my own sugar has been an adventure in itself (but I'm managing to do it, even if it is less than the most pleasant part of my day). I'm so grateful to the diabetic bloggers who have been so willing to share their experiences managing their disease without medications, as my personal goal is to control my own diabetes using only diet and exercise, avoiding medications for as long as possible, ideally never having to resort to chemical drugs for treatment.

Right now, the hardest part is surprisingly enough the exercise thing, although don't get me wrong - I miss my flavored coffee and ice cream like mad). It's not that I don't enjoy exercise, because I do. But it's difficult with the extent of the overwhelming fatigue and weakness that comes with it so often - on many occasions, after a mere 15 minutes on the bike, my feet start feeling like they are strapped to cinder blocks, and soon after I begin to feel like I've swallowed a brick and then the mild waves of nausea, headache and dizziness follow along soon after. This does tend to resolve somewhat, at least enough to finish out my hour, but it's definitely a struggle as I never seem to fully recover until after a solid period of complete rest (of course, I seem to always be exhausted, so "fully recover" is maybe not completely accurate). Steve suggested I carry my meter on rides and check to see if my blood sugar is possibly crashing during heavy exertion, so I'll try that next time.

In the meantime until I get in to see the dietitian and follow up with my doctor to see where things are in a couple of months, I'm working very hard on maintaining a strict diabetic diet and being faithful with my exercise schedule in the hopes that the verdict will be that my diabetes is well controlled using only those and there will be no need to add medications.