I was diagnosed with diabetes on February 17th, 2016 at age 30.
It was clear I had Type 1, but my primary care doc didn’t know exactly how to handle the demanding woman on her exam table and prescribed Type 2 drugs while I waited to see an endocrinologist, who confirmed the obvious on March 1st.
Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes – There’s a Difference:
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where my body decided to wage war on my pancreas, which lost that battle and is therefore no longer producing life-sustaining insulin.
Without insulin, cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose), which is needed to produce energy (hence the apathy and fatigue).
Therefore, Type 1 diabetics are insulin dependent, acting as mediocre substitutes for their MIA pancreas.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is a metabolic condition where your body becomes resistant to the insulin your pancreas is producing. As the condition worsens, your pancreas can produce less and less, leading to insulin deficiency.
How It Started for Me
My symptoms were fairly typical, but coincided with (and were likely triggered by) a stressful divorce.
Initially, I lost my appetite, dropped more than 20 pounds in the first month, and experienced extreme fatigue and apathy. That was in September 2015.
I chocked it all up to stress and continued on with life.
I continued on without much indication of the disease beyond dependence on strong coffee and wondering why minor scratches and bruises weren’t healing until February 2016.
This is when the insatiable thirst and vision loss kicked in and I became sullenly convinced that I had Type 1 diabetes, a condition typically diagnosed in childhood and affecting less than 1/2 percent of the U.S. population.
I obtained a fasting blood glucose test on February 12th which came back at 260.
Diabetes is confirmed with two fasting blood glucose tests over 126, or with just one test result freakishly higher than that, which is where most of us come in at by the time we realize what’s going on.
Conventional vs. “Alternative” Healthcare
I had naive faith in the ability of my golden healthcare plan resources to get my disease under control so that I could get my brain and body back.
The initial visit with my general practitioner was a little worrisome.
Specifically, my GP was unfamiliar with any of the labs that could easily confirm Type 1 over Type 2 diabetes, prescribed me Metformin and Victoza (drugs for Type 2), and there was never any discussion on the dangers of having Type 1.
I do understand that the vast majority of Type 1 diagnoses are given to children, so an adult practitioner might not be very familiar with the labs and treatment protocols.
The visit with the endocrinologist caused me great concern.
This costly visit lasted all of five minutes. The “specialist” shared the obvious, that my labs confirmed Type 1 diabetes, and then she indicated I would need to make an appointment with the diabetes educator.
I tried to go through the long list of questions that had come up during my personal research and was waved off with brief, unhelpful replies. I asked for several labs to be ordered and was told they were unnecessary. That was it.
The “diabetes educator” was the final nail in the conventional healthcare coffin.
I booked an hour with the diabetes educator, read the entire 100+ page diabetes text they had given me at my GP’s office, and came prepared with dozens of questions and a lot of trepidation around starting insulin injections.
30 minutes of my appointment was used up by this nurse running around gathering samples into a bag. Then, despite informing her that I had read the text and done my own research, she started off by pulling out a diagram similar to this one:
The entire visit was a waste of time and I walked out of the pharmacy with my “free” insulin starter kits (Toujeo for my long-acting and Novolog pens for my rapid mealtime insulin) with the following treatment plan:
- Inject 9 units of long-acting insulin (Toujeo) every morning.
- Inject 3 units of rapid insulin (Novolog) before every meal.
- Repeat every day.
The Roller Coaster Begins
As logic might indicate, a functioning pancreas doesn’t dump out the same amount of insulin every meal with complete disregard for the total carbs and protein consumed.
So, why would we dose this way?
I struggled every single day, with blood glucose levels ranging from 42 to 200 mg/dl.
I nearly passed out at a friend’s house less than a week after diagnosis and had no idea how to handle the situation. I “treated” the low with orange juice, which is silly.
I then actually passed out at home alone, hitting my head on the kitchen counter as I was trying to operate my glucometer.
I am fortunate that one of my clients is an Integrative Cancer Care Doctor. She immediately referred me to Dr. Mona Morstein, a Naturopathic Doctor based in Tempe, Arizona.
I made an appointment and booked the flights, recognizing that my health was out of control and would eventually get the best of me. No cost was too high.
On April 1st, I furiously scribbled notes as Dr. Morstein fire hosed me with her expertise. I was astounded (and angry) at just how much was left out of my initial appointments that would drastically improve my immediate health and long-term outcomes.
There were dozens of critical bits of information that I will be sharing in coming blog posts, but ultimately, the key to getting this beast under control was diet.
As a Type 1 Diabetic, I no longer have the metabolic capability to process sugar and other carbohydrates. This means that I need a very low carb diet.
I was already down to less than 90 net carbs before the appointment based on my own research. I further changed my diet after that appointment to consume 12 grams of carbs or less per meal.
I immediately dropped from 11 units of Toujeo in the morning to 4. I also went from 3 units of Novolog before meals to an average of 1 unit, sometimes struggling because I only need a half unit and I haven’t put together a half unit dosing system yet.
My vision was fully restored. My energy came back in droves. The brain fog disappeared.
I feel better now than I did even before my pancreas threw in the towel, which is important to me.
There’s too much at stake to live with constant diabetes symptoms, complications, and the roller coaster of highs and lows.
This blog exists because I refuse to sacrifice my life plans to accommodate my diabetes.
Because I refuse to sacrifice flavor and texture and crunch.
Because I refuse to give up on my body, adventures, and gourmet cooking and baking.
Type 1 Rockstar is about managing my diet, exercise and lifestyle so that I continue to feel great and play hard.
Welcome aboard! I hope you get something positive out of this journal of discovery, experiments, and results.