Monday, December 27, 2010

How I learned I had Type 1 Diabetes

I thought I would share my story of when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

In the early spring of 1999 I noticed that I was starting to get more thirsty little by little. My legs started cramping at night and I just generally felt like crap all the time. Now, I thought this was just from exhaustion as I had recently become a father and my daughter had colic really bad and I basically had not really slept in almost 3 months.

About this same time I had developed a yeast infection down in my private area and so I went to the doctor, got treatment and it went away. Well, 2 weeks later it was back. Went back to the doctor a second time. This is when I realized I had a not so good doctor. He accused my wife and I of cheating on each other as his diagnoses of why I got another yeast infection. Round 2 of drugs and it went away.

During this time I kept getting worse and worse. I noticed my clothes were not fitting anymore and I was having to cinch my belts tighter and tighter. Night after night I was up going to bathroom what seemed like every 30 minutes having to pee. During the day I was drinking whatever I could find as I was always thirsty. Back then gatorade made a 64oz bottle and I was drinking that at least twice a day. I remember standing at the sink in our apartment filling up a cup, downing it and doing it again and again until I was almost sick from the amount of water I was drinking.

This started some time in March and now its May. I had a really really bad night where I was jumping out of bed because my legs were cramping so bad I was almost in tears. That next morning my wife who had a glucometer because she has hypoglycemia checked my sugar because she thought it might be high. Sure enough, the meter just said 'HI'. She made an appointment for that day.

Now, we did go back to the same doctors office but saw a new doctor (she was much much better). Two minutes after reading my chart and hearing my symptoms she said the words I will never forget, 'I think you have diabetes'. They drew blood for blood work, gave me glucophage and sent me home. They called the next day and confirmed that I was diabetic and that my sugar was 660 at the time they took my blood. They wanted me to go to the hospital but I refused. I said unless its absolutely necessary, I wasn't going.

A week later I saw my first endocrinologist and started taking shots.

Memorial Day weekend 1999, my life changed in a way I never imagined.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nutrition and exercise for type 1 diabetics

As this year winds down, my thoughts drift to how much nutrition really affects the results of exercise. Most people do not realize that what they eat can sabotage their workouts more than anything. For proof, watch The Biggest Loser on NBC. Make good food choices with lots of hard work and weight loss and getting healthy is reachable, even for average everyday people.

Now, throw type 1 diabetes in the mix and things get really interesting. Why you ask? Because food is a Type 1 (T1) diabetics worst enemy. In a non-diabetic, when you eat, their pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin into the blood stream to regulate the amount of sugar in the blood stream. This is how most people can eat a giant piece of cake and still have normal blood sugar (which 100 is perfect). Now, in a T1 diabetic, their pancreas no longer (or secretes very little) secretes insulin as the cells that do this have been attacked and shut down by the bodies autoimmune system.

Take the piece of cake I described above. If a T1 ate that, they would have to 'cover' the amount of carbs (ALOT) that is in that piece of cake with an insulin shot or a bolus from an insulin pump. Some think this is acceptable, well yes and no. While insulin pumps do give T1's more freedom to eat what they want, its still not as fast a real pancreas, this is where the no comes in. I am all to familiar with this scenario.

All this to say that I believe that nutrition is doubly important for T1's that exercise. When I am doing a long ride in the summer time, I have to eat a lot before the ride so that I do not go low (a big drop in blood sugar) while on the ride. Now, every diabetic is different in this area so I am going to share my experiences, successes and failures here.

First Ride of December

Had my first ride of December yesterday. Turned out to be more of a teaching ride for a friend of mine than a workout, but it was a 2 hour ride so that part was good. We ended up riding almost 10 miles with stops along the way for me to teach him some bike skills (and a couple of crashes on his part).

I am hoping that my wife and I can ride today even though its a bit colder today but should still be a good day to ride. I always feel better after being on my bike, even if its a short ride.