Vultures Row: Diabetes



I am a diabetic. I was diagnosed on March 19, 2000 as a Type II Diabetic. Type II is what used to be called adult onset diabetes, however with more an more teens and children being diagnosed they have changed the designations.

I’m not a doctor nor do I play one on the inter-net, I offer this posting as my personal experiences and to encourage others to find out more about Diabetes. I offer no medical advice other than if you have or suspect you have this or any other disease to go see your doctor.

To understand the difference between the two I want to tell you a little about how the body works. Whatever you eat, the carbs in it are broken down into glucose and put into your blood stream. Glucose is the fuel that powers the cells in your body. It moves from your blood into your cells with the assistance of insulin. Insulin is made by your pancreas. It was explained to me in an interesting way. Think of your glucose as fuel and the cells as the factories needing it. The insulin would be a tanker truck delivering it to the factory.

In Type II Diabetes, for one reason or another, the Insulin is not being delivered efficiently. When this happens the Glucose stays in your blood stream. Type II’s are treated with oral meds (pills) and a program of diet, exercise and education.

In Type I Diabetes, a person’s pancreas does not produce insulin. This also leads to glucose being left into your blood stream. Type I’s are insulin Dependent. They have to take shots of insulin as well as knowing what to eat and when.

All of the glucose is not just going to collect in your blood; it has to go some where so it dumps to your kidneys and then it is flushed out. One of the symptoms of diabetes is frequent urination, which leads to constant thirst. With all of that glucose (the converted carbs) in your blood problems start to occur. If high blood glucose levels are left unchecked long enough it can lead to blindness, dead nerves, heart conditions, and a host of other problems. The dead nerves can lead to infections in extremities and amputations. Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic amputations in the United States.

I’m what my Endocrinologist calls a Type 1.5 Diabetic, that is a Type II that has progressed into Type I. My pancreas was working most of my life. Then it was working, but the insulin was not being used properly. Then after a few years it shut down and my body doesn’t make insulin at all.

Diabetes is a disease but it is not contagious. It’s not some weird mysterious condition. It puts some people off because they don’t understand it. It can look scary or at lest uncomfortable to some because of the finger sticks. We have to test our blood to get an accurate reading of our glucose level.

A “normal” (can’t you just see me doing air quotes) reading is between 70 and 110. This is after fasting or two hours after one has finished eating. Type II’s don’t really have to worry about going to low. Type I’s take insulin. That means we have to calculate the carbs we are about to eat inject some fast acting insulin and hope it balances out. If we take too little our glucose level (sugar levels) go up and we go into Hyperglycemia. If it’s too much we can go into Hypoglycemia. In my experiences hypoglycemia is much worse. This is the condition where Hollywood feeds a ton of candy to a diabetic. In reality glucose tablets (available at any pharmacy OTC) are the better way to treat this condition, how ever if there are none present you can eat about 6 pieces of hard candy OR half (6oz) of a non-diet soda. I try to avoid chocolate as it is a very quick acting sugar, it burns quickly which will bring up the glucose level then it will fall again.

Exercise does effect how much insulin I take. If I am working out I do not need as much so I have to adjust accordingly.

I had to take up to 8 shots a day while I was on the needles. I had to take two types of insulin a fast acting for when I ate and for correction doses and a long lasting for the rest of the time. I’m now on an insulin pump and love the damn thing. It’s the size of a pager and I wear it on my hip. It holds about 160 units of fast acting insulin and delivers it in micro doses all day long. I can also program it to deliver larger doses (a Bolos dose) when I’m about to eat or if my blood glucose readings are higher and I need a correction does. A pre-meal does depends on the carbs I am about to eat divided by 7 so if I am eating 45 carbs in the meal my does would be 6.4 units. Now this does was prescribed to me by my specialist. If you are a diabetic only follow the treatment program that was prescribed to you by your doctor, do not follow any one else’s treatment program.

Diabetes is a lot of work for the patient, a lot of work for the family of the patients and can have serious consequences, but it’s not debilitating in most cases. It is easy to lead a normal life with minimal changes and it’s easy to adjust to. It does take a lot of will power and self control, but once tight control is achieved and maintained, a diabetic is usually pretty healthy otherwise.

I have faced a few aspects of discrimination because of my condition, but for the most part most people are mildly curious about it, ask a few questions and then move one. A few people go out of there way to make special accommodations for parties (ie, diet drinks, sugar free foods, etc.) and gatherings. I think over all I have had good reactions from people concerning this.

Thanks for reading and if anyone would like further information, contact me for links.
Vulture 6 (Scott)

I’m not a doctor nor do I play one on the inter-net, I offer this posting as my personal experiences and to encourage others to find out more about Diabetes. I offer no medical advice other than if you have or suspect you have this or any other disease to go see your doctor.


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