25 In Self-care

Being Diagnosed With Type 2 Diabetes

If someone were to tell me that they cried when they were diagnosed with a health issue, I would probably empathise but recommend they think positive and focus on doing what it takes to get better.

Easier said than done, right?

But then, don’t we all know how much easier it is to preach than practice. Of course I don’t always follow my advice. I was upset to discover I harbored a health condition I wasn’t aware of.

Diabetes, the silent killer, is like that. 

But let me start at the beginning. It was a dark and stormy night. Actually, no it wasn’t. That came later

First, it was a rather bright and sunny day at the end of January 2014. My Mom’s fourth anniversary was coming up on Feb 8 followed by our 17th wedding anniversary on Feb 9. Yes, sad-happy time. I wanted to do something significant that would make my Mom proud and decided to go for a master health check. The last one was a few years ago and hence the bright idea.

I planned everything the night before and after the mandatory 10-hour fasting, set off to the lab early in the morning on Feb 8. I went through the drill of fasting tests, had breakfast and then went back two hours later for the next set.

Feeling rather “mission accomplished”, I sat back for the results assuming they would be great.

So imagine my shock, when, at 3 in the afternoon, my phone beeped to signal a text message with the basic numbers and to say I could view the reports online. My eyes practically popped out of their sockets when I saw the scary high blood sugar and cholesterol levels. At first, I thought they had mixed up my results with someone else’s and that it was a freak reading, but when I saw the detailed report, the related tests seemed to be in sync.

Literally desperate, I tried to be positive but couldn’t cheer up. Obviously, the first step was to go see my doctor with the reports. After all, did I not know that one test result does not a diabetic make?

So I went for another set of tests. This time, the HbA1c test, which shows the average blood sugar levels for the preceding three months. Since my ECG reports didn’t look normal, I was asked to undergo a TMT – A treadmill test. I remember thinking – so that’s why insurance companies insist on an HbA1c test to avoid the applicant tweaking their results by following a rigorous routine for a week before the test!

The next day I did the required tests. The TMT didn’t show cause for emergency worry. But the HbA1c blew me away. 11.5 against the normal range of less than 5.7. Oh yes, I felt miserable.

As I waited at the doctor’s clinic I felt dejected. To think I felt healthy and energetic all these days, eating healthy and getting reasonable exercise – disappointing, to say the least. It isn’t even as though I am overweight.

Life sure knew how to give me a kick in the backside when I least expected it.

It felt like the end of the world.

I met the doctor who pronounced me diabetic after an hour discussing my medical history. Turns out that when someone in the family is diabetic everyone is at risk. And my biological father’s entire family is diabetic. If I sound a little belligerent about that, it is because my father abandoned my almost 18-year old Mom when she was three months pregnant with me and went to the US to pursue his studies, got married again and settled there. Ironic that of all things I should inherit it was health problems from him. It just felt so unfair.

But then life is seldom fair.

Why me?

The worst part was people being condescending and saying, “Oh. Diabetes is a lifestyle disease”. Sadly, lifestyle is only one of the reasons and this was not so in my case.

I went through the classic stage of denial. I wanted to pretend it was just a temporary thing. My family was most lovingly supportive, telling me it was just a matter of following a routine. But I’m not ashamed to admit I shed a lot of tears before coming to terms with the fact that I was diabetic.

Never one to shirk a challenge, I accepted it and decided I would show my diabetes who’s boss.

One of the things about this condition is – it needs constant care – pampering. There’s never a moment when I can think I can slack off. I compare diabetes to a politician whose mere presence triggers a lot of other complications. As a diabetic, I am now at risk for heart disease, kidney disease, neurological issues, hypertension, skin problems, and vision issues.

I got right down to tackling it. Rather than feel bad, the need of the hour was to take action.

And so I got my diabetes arsenal ready.

First, I got a healthy diet plan in place. This was not easy. After what I was used to, the overnight change was a challenge. But I did.

I already had a little knowledge of what works and what doesn’t, thanks to looking after my father in law, who is diabetic. Even though I usually eat healthy, diabetes does not tolerate deviation.

My initial plan included:

  • Diabetes-friendly meal plans. The annoying part was having to eat every 3-4 hours which is something I am still freak out over. It also meant planning my grocery shopping followed by a lot of preparation
  • A strict hour of exercise every day. I walked usually, but there were days when I slacked off if I had a work overload. This time, I wouldn’t compromise
  • Medication. I begged my doctor to prescribe minimal medication, promising to bring down my cholesterol and blood sugar levels with diet and exercise and to check after three months
  • Monitoring glucose levels. My friend suggested I track my sugar levels at least once in ten days so that any diet-tweaking could be done if necessary. Better safe than sorry eh?

I completely went off rice and wheat and lived on sprouts, salads, love and fresh air. I was supremely grateful I didn’t have to give up coffee. To my advantage, I wasn’t fond of sweets, so no cravings there. No small mercy, that!

Celebrating One Year of Living With Type 2 Diabetes

I celebrated one year of being a type 2 diabetic on February 8 this year. I am happy to say my blood sugar levels are stable, my cholesterol levels are normal and my mood is pretty cheerful. Oh, some days are not so great, but nothing to get worked up over.

I’ve always believed in looking for the silver lining in any situation and this time there was no exception. Here’s what I did:

  • Last year, when I participated in the April A to Z Challenge with two blogs, I wrote about living with type 2 diabetes on my health blog
  • I’ve started another blog called Life hacks for Diabetics where I share tips for living with diabetes. My goal is to help others sharing what I’ve learned. It can be so lonely sometimes to tackle it on our own
  • The biggest challenge is snacking, so I am constantly on the lookout for healthy recipes. I have a pretty good collection now
  • I am working on a series of books about Diabetes – awareness is key with this condition and I want to do my bit.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is this: my husband and son have now consciously switched to a healthy lifestyle. I am so grateful to them for buddying up with me. Support is so important when dealing with a health issue.

I remember how, after we got the reports a year ago, we sat down for a quick conference to make a plan of action. We made a list of nonnegotiables and a standard shopping list to make sure certain things were always available at home.

Yes, I am grateful for diabetes at the age of 50. This is a time when each one of us should consciously live healthy anyway and for me it was a wake-up call to remind me. I’m lucky to work from home, which means no commuting stress, no getting held up at work and coming home late. So I drive my folks crazy at home, but they assure me they love it.

Today I am fitter, healthier and in control of my health. So maybe my eyesight is getting worse, I have skin issues and some neurological problems – but hey, things could be a lot worse!

I am smiling, living in the moment, looking after myself and my family and showing my diabetes who’s boss.


 

About Vidya Sury

After a couple of decades in the corporate world in marketing and training, Vidya Sury is living her dream as a Writer | Author | Editor | Blogger. She enjoys writing so much that she juggles five blogs of her own. 

On really busy days, Vidya’s free time is restricted to playing with her dust bunnies and showing her diabetes whose boss. She loves coffee, books, cooking, music, photography, travel, people and collecting smiles. She is a social media explorer. She believes there is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women. And that people will always rule over technology!

She blogs at Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles and tweets as @vidyasury.

 

  • Joanne T Ferguson
    March 24, 2015 at 8:26 am

    My nana used to say one is never the first, nor the last of anything and then followed by and someone always has it worse…Congrats on controlling your health as I always believe health is one’s wealth! #ibabloggers

    • Vidya Sury
      March 24, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      Hi Joanne! Great to see you here! Health is indeed our wealth; without it we cannot do a thing! As we grow older and recovery is slower, it becomes even more precious. 🙂 Thank you!

  • Mackenzie Glanville
    March 24, 2015 at 9:36 am

    I love your positivity. I must confess I am so scared of getting diabetes, it is all through my mums family, and I know I am at risk, but it makes me feel better hearing your story and seeing the way you embrace life. So proud of you!
    May you continue in good health

    • Vidya Sury
      March 24, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Thank you Mackenzie! The great thing is, a healthy lifestyle can solve so many things.In my case, it was just unfortunate that the hereditary risk hit me at this time. There are people who go through life with reasonable care and live a pretty healthy life. May you be blessed with excellent health! ♥

  • Teresa (embracing the spectrum)
    March 24, 2015 at 9:52 am

    I think being diagnosed with diabetes is saving my sister’s life! She’s lost over 100 pounds from changing her diet.

    • Janine Ripper
      March 24, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      That’s awesome Teresa!

    • Vidya Sury
      March 24, 2015 at 6:31 pm

      Teresa, I absolutely believe I was lucky to be diagnosed when I was! I shudder to think of what could have happened had I not gone for the health check at the time I did. Sigh. 🙂 Your sister is amazing! Thank you!

  • Penelope James
    March 24, 2015 at 10:38 am

    What a story! It’s always a shock to find out you have a life-threatening illness. I’m grateful I don’t have diabetes though my ex has it and I watched my mother-in-law lose her sight and her legs to diabetes. On the other hand, I have a friend going on 90 who’s very active. I commend your positive attitude. These days, it’s easier to handle diabetes if the individual is willing like you to eat properly and exercise and lead a certain lifestyle. I hope that you live a long and fulfilling life.

    • Vidya Sury
      March 24, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      True, Penelope. That’s what my doc says. Apparently most people are not ready to make the lifestyle change and give up what they like. Change is always hard. I hate being sick and have been fortunate in terms of health. So with diabetes Id rather do everything I can to minimize the medication. Medication has its own list of side effects and I’d like to keep that off as much as I possible can!

      Thank you – your comment is so encouraging! 🙂

  • Barbara
    March 24, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    Bear hugs, Vidya, lovely to see you at Janine’s!
    I love your positive attitude, accepting and showing diabetes who’s the boss.
    Diabetes type 1 runs in my father’s family and my aunt was diagnosed as a teenager, many times I have seen her in a bad physical shape and felt for her not being able to accept her affliction.
    I am happy for you that you feel healthier, fitter and in control of your health. Here’s to a happy life filled with smiles!

    • Vidya Sury
      March 24, 2015 at 6:37 pm

      Oooh Barbara! Big bear hugs to you! So lovely to see you here! It is my life’s mission to keep myself as healthy as possible – I’ve miles to go before I sleep and books to read and coffee to drink…. 🙂

      Diabetes is pretty scary. I’ve seen people in our family having to be rushed to the hospital at a moment’s notice – sometimes because of their condition and sometimes simply because they were careless.After my initial feeling of misery, I got over it and took action.

      I miss our emails! ♥

  • Vidya Sury
    March 24, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    Thank you for hosting me, Janine! I am living one of my favorite quotes – “Take care of your body, it is the only place you have to live” or something to that effect. We never realize what we had until we feel the fear of losing it.

    Thank you for the beautiful graphic. 🙂 I have a post over at my blog to announce this one!

  • Amy Kelsch @ItsAMindfulLife
    March 24, 2015 at 10:43 pm

    I love this post. So much fun to hear how you took control of your life and diabetes. You are an inspiration!

    • Vidya Sury
      March 26, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      🙂 Thank you Amy! Yes, in retrospect it has been fun! I laugh to think of my briefly sulky phase. It probably helped me give myself a kick in the pants and take action. Thank you for your kind words!

  • Michelle
    March 24, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    What a beautiful post. You are one brave human being. I really love how you incorporate healthy eating and physical activity to your regimen. Namaste, and thank you for sharing your uplifting story. xo #ibabloggers

    • Vidya Sury
      March 26, 2015 at 3:02 pm

      Thank you so much Michelle! You know, in spite of living a reasonably healthy life – I say reasonable, because there were times when we had a tough time surviving – I was shocked to be faced with a hereditary condition. So I simply amped up my regimen and became conscious about it. It is too easy to skip exercise on those days when life gets busy. I’ve made it a non-negotiable and am reaping the benefits!

  • Tara Schiller
    March 25, 2015 at 2:58 am

    What a touching story. Very vulnerable and real. Loved it. Thank you so much for sharing.
    -Tara

    • Vidya Sury
      March 26, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      Thank you, Tara! I may not have been able to sound so positive a few months ago! I am grateful to Janine for coming along at the right time, when I was ready to feel happy about being diabetic! 😀

  • nabanita
    March 25, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    That’s an incredible story Vidya, more like true life…Honestly, diabetes scares me because I lost my favourite uncle to it..But then he never followed any diet and he has a lot going on in life, tensions and all, maybe that’s why…S’s mom had diabetes too and so I worry about S… But there are ways to live with it and live well and you are the example for it…Thanks for sharing your story…

    • Vidya Sury
      March 26, 2015 at 3:06 pm

      Hugs Nabanita – it is miraculous what a healthy lifestyle that includes a reasonably healthy diet, exercise and enough sleep can do! Also, tackling stress in today’s times is very important. Just be conscious. Oh I lost an aunt to diabetes too – she practically disintegrated in front of our eyes. Her legs were the first to go, then her fingers, then her eyes. If that’s not motivation for me to stay fit…scary! 🙂

      You take care, sweety! I am around if you need to talk!

  • Keirthana
    March 25, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    I get how you would have felt. My husband is a Type 1 diabetic and it is not like he had any control over it happening to him. So after a lot of struggles and sufferings, we have accepted that we have a problem and are dealing with it. With that personal experience, I can relate to how difficult it would be to acknowledge the health problem and go on about correcting it, not to mention the umpteen sympathetic looks that we get.

    Hats off to you!

    • Vidya Sury
      April 3, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      Oh yes, Keirthana! The sympathetic looks – and the judgment that it is obviously my fault – really doesn’t help! I am glad your husband is managing well. Personally, I think that it helps if the whole family buddies up, after all – following a healthy lifestyle is good for everyone in the long run! 🙂 It is what made life easier for me. I appreciate you so much for coming by and commenting! Love.

  • Kristin
    March 26, 2015 at 1:56 am

    I totally understand how you felt. I have health problems that practically went away when I was pregnant and I was devastated to find that they returned after having my daughter. I knew there were there and knew I would have to deal with it and it was still hard. You sound like you have a plan and are doing well with it so keep your head up and keep pushing forward. It is a new way of life you are strong and can handle it! #ibabloggers

    • Vidya Sury
      April 3, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      The discovery changed my life overnight, Kristin. I remember being so angry about it – and felt defeated. You know I had an almost text-book kind of healthy life – even my pregnancy was uneventful, expect for the last minute when I had to be rushed into cesarean. Still – at this point, It was infuriating to discover that the biological father who abandoned our family even before I was born would pass on this inheritance to me. 🙂 I am glad I got over that stupid phase quickly and took action to do the best I could. Still, there are days when I feel low and … depend on my family to pick me up.

      Hugs! I know you will overcome, too. I know how it feels.

  • Embracing My Health Challenge | Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles
    April 6, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    […] Please visit Janine’s blog to read my post – “Embracing my health challenge“ […]

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