Change is hard, except when there is no other choice

It all started when my vision began to get a touch blurry back in early March. It was unusual, as I had just gotten a new glasses prescription one year earlier and often went for years without having to change it.

Then I started getting thirsty. I would crave a tall glass of cold, cold water before going to bed. I’d wake up in the night with my mouth so dry, I could hardly swallow. I also dropped 15 lbs without a whole lot of effort – very, very unusual for me as a person who has fought the ‘battle of the bulge’ for many years and rarely been on the winning side.

So when I went to the eye doctor he suggested it was likely a glucose issue, and suggested I see my physician right away. I had had a physical about six weeks earlier, and there had been no sign of diabetes, but things were certainly looking that way. Sure enough, a blood test the next day confirmed it.

I noticed a message on my phone about four hours after the test saying I was to go to the hospital as soon as possible as my blood sugar was extremely high.

So off to emergency I went, waiting a few hours, and ultimately spent the night in that department. No question, it was diabetes, although there was some question over the next couple of days if it was something called latent autoimmune diabetes – kind of in the middle of Type 1 and Type 2. Doctors later confirmed it was Type 2.

I was put on medication to pull down the blood sugar levels, which took a few days to kick in fully. Sugars should normally be between 4 and 7 before a meal, perhaps slightly higher after eating, I was told. Mine had soared to 32 at my blood test the week before.

It was a strange few days – my eyes were still acting up. Apparently, high blood sugars can do crazy things to your vision. In the long-term, untreated or uncontrolled blood sugars can seriously damage a person’s vision. In my case, there has been no damage done thankfully, but my vision was temporarily altered. It was pretty scary when even with glasses on, I couldn’t read notices hanging on the hospital wall unless I was up close.

To be honest, I wasn’t totally surprised at the diagnosis. I hadn’t been diligent when it comes to caring for myself in terms of diet and getting enough exercise. I was very disappointed in myself for several days – as we all know, Type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly common in a society where people are getting heavier and less active. It was also discouraging to think that I wasn’t in the hospital to recover from something, go home and move on as usual. I was returning home with a ‘condition’ that would be with me for the rest of my life. Yes it could be controlled, but it wasn’t going to vanish.

And it could have extremely serious complications should I tend to grow careless over time with how I managed it.

Thankfully, I had plenty of information given to me over those early days – lots of teaching and instructing on how to eat, how much to eat, when to eat, how to gauge sugars, what to watch for – you name it. I can’t say enough about the help and support that is available to anyone with diabetes in this province, it’s really quite amazing.

But it’s also a bit overwhelming at first, particularly when you consider the negative outcomes that can surface – again, if you don’t take particular care of your health. Complications in ‘non-compliant diabetics’ can run the gamut from nerve damage to heart disease to kidney issues – obviously not minor, simple issues.

I’ve gotten over my disappointment with myself and chosen to simply look ahead and try to live a healthier life. Type 2 diabetes has a way of spurring you on to do that. And I think that for that, I can be thankful.

Without the diagnosis, I likely would have just kept on my merry – but clearly naïve and careless way – eating what and when I wanted, struggling continually with increasing weight, and seeing the effects of all of that take their toll over the coming years.

Now, it’s serious – I simply have to take care of myself. Period.

There is a silver lining to all of this after all.

editor@reddeerexpress.com

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