The Ups and Downs of Living with Diabetes

in Silver Bloggers2 months ago (edited)

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My husband was diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus, generally referred to as a Type 1 diabetic at the very young age of 8, some 63 years ago when the treatment regime was not as easy as it is today.

He went into a coma at the age of seven, spent around six weeks in hospital and had his eighth birthday there, so it's not surprising that this is not one of his favourite places.

Discovery of Insulin

Even though the wonder of insulin was discovered in 1921, with a Nobel Prize being awarded in 1923, there was much controversy around this discovery.

A Type 1 Diabetic is someone whose body no longer produces any Insulin; therefore their bodies cannot metabolize Carbs; in my simple understanding this hormone turns Carbs into energy for our body's correct functioning.

Hyperglycemia - High Blood Sugar

The Warning Signs of Hyperglycemia

  • Abnormal thirst and dry mouth
  • Sweetish odor on breath
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Irritability

What happens when the Type 1 Diabetic is deprived of Insulin or does not use it correctly in conjunction with a healthy diet?

  • The first stage is high blood sugar.
  • Their urine becomes highly diluted.
  • They go into a diabetic coma.
    Followed by...
  • Death from ketosis.

Hypoglycemia - Low Blood Sugar

What happens when an Insulin dependent diabetic misjudges their Insulin dosage or delays/ skips a meal after injecting their Insulin?

The Warning Signs of Hypoglycemia

  • Extreme confusion
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Shakiness and anxiety
  • Extreme hunger
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Seizures

What is worse?

A diabetic (Hyperglycemia) coma is way more lethal as it is very difficult to get the patient to emerge from that coma, but a low blood sugar (Hypoglycemic) coma is much easier to control, as a simple glucose injection will have them back to normal within minutes.

However, a Hypoglycemic episode is very scary for those around them because of the disturbing symptoms.

Hubby has to carry sweets or a bottle of fruit juice wherever he goes - hard glucose sweets in the car when driving are easier and must be within easy reach, in his pocket if going into a meeting, otherwise his favourite ones at home are soft jelly sweets, which I also enjoy and sometimes steal from him!
Honey, glucose syrup sachets, juice or a fruit of course would be healthier!

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Should you ever see someone you know suddenly behave in this strange manner or you know they're a diabetic, look out for those symptoms and encourage them to test their sugar in order to avoid a possible medical emergency.

Hubby often tells me how he received the book prize for Technical Drawing in school as he was brilliant at it, but when he wrote the final exam, he had a hypoglycemic episode and he failed his best subject in his final year as he could not think straight!

Blood Glucose Testing

Back in the day, blood sugar levels were tested before each meal by holding a glass test tube filled with Benedict solution and ten drops of urine over a Bunsen burner; the colours would change dependent on the amount of glucose in the blood; from blue, green, yellow, orange and red in ascending order; red of course a warning that the sugar is way too high!

Testing methods changed to using Litmus strips, but nowadays there are more modern methods.

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Hubby uses a meter that stores his blood sugar readings which can be downloaded, giving the diabetic specialist an overall view of his control.

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Lancet
He has to prick his finger with a lancet, which has a small, sharp needle that pops out to the length one sets, he then puts a drop of blood on a test strip.

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The meter then displays his blood sugar levels so he can calculate how much insulin to use.

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11.7 is not a good reading, so out came the quick-acting Insulin! He very likely cheated and had a sweet treat after supper!

He tests 5-6 times a day. Of course our medical aid limits the number of test strips they will pay for, so we pay out of our own pocket to make up for the shortfall, but thankfully they are not too expensive!

There are more sophisticated systems like this Continuous Glucose Monitoring device. Those are very expensive and mainly used for people who battle to control their diabetes.

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Source

Insulin

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He uses 2 types of insulin, a quick-acting one which he injects before each meal and at bedtime if his sugar is high; long-acting Insulin at bedtime plus Byetta which is a medication for Type 2 diabetics which helps with lowering the sugar levels, but also helps the type 1 use less insulin.
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Diabetes types:

  • Type 1 you've heard all about, but basically their pancreas does not produce any insulin.
  • A Type 2 diabetic’s body does not process Carbs efficiently therefore they have to more careful with their food intake.
  • Gestational diabetes - we've heard of pregnant women who develop this condition which fortunately normalises after giving birth.

Diabetic Identification

As we've been married for many many moons, I know the importance of recognising a diabetic who may be having a high or a low, as strangers may think the person is intoxicated if they behave strangely.
Hubby should wear his Medic Alert bracelet which would warn medical personnel that he is a type 1 diabetic, in the case of an accident or if he's having a hypo- or hyper-glycemic incident.
He never wore it and I could not even find it to show it to you; nor would he ever consider a cool tattoo like this one!

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Source

Exercise and diet

Hubby actually is much healthier than many of his peers and I believe it's because we generally try to follow a healthy lifestyle, avoid highly processed food and use fresh ingredients, although we do not go overboard. He does cheat a little at times because he then simply injects a little extra; not too often of course!
He can do this through his shirt when out dining as the needles are super thin nowadays.

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Keeping active and doing some form of regular exercise is the only other thing that helps convert the sugars to energy, so exercise is vital, even if it's just taking regular walks.

Hubby went on a Keto diet a couple of years ago, and although he lost weight, felt great and reduced his Insulin, he had some really bad night-time hypoglycemic episodes, so I stopped his diet as it was too risky and frightening with the extreme lows!

Finally...

In closing, I would like to emphasise to take note of the signs of a hypoglycemic attack, not to assume someone is intoxicated, but could possibly be a diabetic who is having a hypoglycemic episode!
You very well may save someone's life!

November is Diabetes Awareness Month so I'm very early but I do hope this information helps those who are new to this condition, especially our #silverbloggers who are at the age where diabetes can suddenly strike!

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I'm type 2 diabetic and everything you mentioned is familiar. They really have came a long way in creating new medications and ways to manage your life with diabetes. I sometimes wonder though why you never hear of someone getting a pancreas transplant, which would basically cure you of diabetes, yet it is common to transplant lungs, heart, liver, kidneys. I think it is partially because it's such a big money-making business for big pharma to keep us all on those expensive medications for our entire life!

 2 months ago  

I've also wondered about that, but like you say, there's big money in this business!
So sorry to hear you've got this awful disease, type 2 is actually more difficult as you have to watch your diet more strictly.
Thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience.

 2 months ago  

I have witnessed patients coming into the hospital that most people would think they were drunk out of their minds, only to find out they were diabetics. Hypoglycemic episodes can be so scary, I had a dear friend's mom brought into the ER one night that was out of control, really bizarre behavior. It took me just a few minutes on the computer to see lab results, just enough info to hug my friend an assure her that mom wasn't losing her mind, it was her blood sugar level.
Tough disease, you have to stay on top of it always. Thank goodness we have better tools to combat this crappy condition. It can be controlled.
Good job Lizzy, stay on top of him.

 2 months ago  

They certainly behave crazily when they have a low! The specialist said that because he's had it for so long, his body doesn't make enough adrenaline to warn his something is wrong, I can see it right away!
It's those middle of the nights episodes that are the worst as he's extremely low by the time he wakes up, fortunately that doesn't happen too often!
I can imagine how worried your friend was, it's not an easy disease to control!

 2 months ago  

Biff, It sure takes it out of you, stay strong.
Her mom has since been laid to rest, but us girls still talk about what a pisser she was, she loved to eat. We would have girls luncheons once a month, my friend Sue would bring mom and she had us in stitches the entire time. But Sue had a rough time trying to control her mom's diet.
Life isn't easy sometimes.

 2 months ago  

Yep, we've have many ups and downs, with the sugar especially!

 2 months ago  

You know if you would've said that tattoo is on your neck I would've believe it. Thought you'd like to know.

I'm gonna keep it short cuz I know I know alert the press!! As I was saying, I'm gonna keep it short cuz this one hits close to home Lizelle and nothing to laugh about.

💖

He's lucky to have you.

 2 months ago  

Ummm...me and a tattoo? If I was diabetic, I'd definitely consider one, on the wrist though!
It really is part of our lifestyle, our kids were never scared of needles even as tiny tots, the clinic sisters used to find it strange whenever they went for their vaccinations!
How is your Pura doing?
I would say she is the luckiest gal having you!

 2 months ago  

She's plagued with a debilitating disease Lizelle. I couldn't imagine. She lays in MRI machines every four months just to make sure it's not cancer yet. How rapidly life changes.

From holding hands along the Mediterranean Coast to Brexit, then Covid, and now this. She's so ready to get back out there. She says painful things to me sometimes like "I know I won't live to see 50."

Dammit. This is why I didn't elaborate.

God bless you guys @lizelle.

💖

 2 months ago  

Life really can be so unfair at times! Why oh why the suffering and not knowing what lies in store and especially for someone so special and young and once so full of life!
You both remain in my prayers @dandays! Take care of yourself too, Pura needs you now more than ever 🙏🏻💞

 2 months ago  

Pura is always in my nightly prayers. Life isn't fair, but you can change that balance with love and light. Be her rock.

 2 months ago  

Might wanna close the blinds.....

 2 months ago  

heheehhahaha wise ass

 2 months ago  

Very informative post my friend, beautifully written. I use to be hyperglycemic, I use to get quite a few attacks,changed my diet to healthy eating, haven't had one for a few years now. Thank you for sharing.

 2 months ago  

I remember when you had that, thank goodness you got that under control!

That is most informative story i have read related diabetic problem. My Dad recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes during Covid 19 recovery. He is still in denial that he has to live with this lifetime because it can not be cured but control through proper diet and excercise will some pills like metaformin,vuldagliptin and glenperide .

 2 months ago  

Unfortunately there is no cure, but that is something your Dad will have to accept plus be strict with his carbs intake as type 2 diabetes can be more difficult to control!
Wish you well with convincing him.

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 2 months ago  

Thank you @hivebuzz !


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Hola muy bueno tu pots, a los 45 me detectaron diabetes , me realizaron un bay-pas gástrico.

Eso de e ser bastante complicado.

 2 months ago  

¿Su diabetes entró en remisión? Debes haber sido del tipo 2, desafortunadamente mi esposo tiene el tipo 1.

I understand you. Here in Venezuela is very expensive to obtain insulin. The goverment gives them, but there are mafias and you have to pay them very costy.