In one weekend I went from healthy to a type 2 diabetic. But I had no diabetic symptoms, did I? That was when I realized I had no idea what the symptoms were.
I am not alone in this. Somewhere between a third and half of the people who have type 2 diabetes do not know it. For borderline diabetics, the number is even higher.
That is because diabetic symptoms go unnoticed until some complication strikes, like a small stroke or heart problem. But meanwhile the condition has been going on for years.
How did I find out? After two days of horrible headaches I went to the emergency room where a CT scan showed a small stroke, or TIA.
The nurse checked my blood sugar. The last glucose test I remembered was during pregnancy over 20 years before.
She told me my blood glucose level was over 300. The number meant nothing to me, which shows how little I knew about diabetes.
What Was the Metabolic Syndrome?
After more tests, the doctor said I had high cholesterol and my blood pressure was out of control.
None of this seemed to surprise him. Doctors know type 2 diabetes goes hand in hand with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
Add in obesity and I was four out of four on the checklist for metabolic syndrome, something else I had never heard of.
Without knowing it I had put myself directly in the path of insulin resistance. Of course, I had no idea what that was either.
Then Everything Changed
From that day on I would have to see a doctor every three months. After living without a regular doctor since the kids were born, suddenly I needed two.
There was an endocrinologist for diabetic care and a general doctor for everything else.
The next shock was the list of medications. There was one for blood pressure, one for cholesterol, two for diabetic symptoms, and a baby aspirin for prevention of heart problems.
From zero to five medications in one day! That was the beginning of my education in type 2 diabetes.
More than twelve years later I still see a doctor every three months and take medications. Because I use needles and a glucose monitor every day, I have learned a lot about medical insurance.
It Did Not Have to Happen Like That
There is an important fact I did not know about diabetic symptoms. One simple blood test would have saved so much pain.
Because it is possible to be a borderline diabetic for many years before crossing over into full-blown diabetes, I could have known it was coming.
Knowing there was type 2 diabetes in my family, I should have been getting my blood sugar checked regularly. The test is so easy.
Fingerstick blood tests at the doctor’s office are much less painful than the alternative. Blood testing is the way to be sure that borderline diabetes has not snuck into your life.
Glucose tests are simple, fast, and not nearly as painful as in my dad’s day. If I had asked for the test over the years, type 2 diabetes would not have broadsided me at 49.
Testing is So Easy
Getting a glucose tolerance test is a very best way to find out whether you are borderline diabetic. But do you want to know? I preferred ignorance, and that was a mistake.
Early warnings are always good, but diabetic symptoms are quiet at first. Since lifestyle changes can keep a borderline diabetic from becoming a type 2 diabetic, it would be wise to get testing done.
Stepping up exercise and changing their diet has kept at least 50% of borderline diabetics from type 2 diabetes. That is half of them! It makes early testing worthwhile.
However, we need to remember that nothing in our lives is totally under our control. This includes diabetes.
The message that you can take charge of your own health would be so true if there were no genetic time bombs, viruses, diseases and accidents.
You Need Warning Signs Because Diabetes is Sneaky
There are some early signs that diabetes is coming. Insulin resistance leads to excessive thirst and polyuria or going to the bathroom a lot.
Another symptom is the low blood sugar and shakes that come after a few hours without eating or after exercise.
These symptoms can warn you to get your blood sugar levels tested. If you do that, you will be able to deal with the disease sooner rather than later when the more serious diabetic symptoms show up.
The list of diabetic symptoms you could avoid ranges from annoying and painful to life-threatening.
Because of the things you could avoid, diabetic education becomes a good idea, right? I would agree.
If sharing my mistakes helps you, at least those mistakes have served a purpose. Will you let me know?