Engagement Celebration

What’s it Like to be Diabetic?

Diabetes Awareness and Diabetes Management

Someone recently asked me what’s it like to be diabetic? Well, I believe it is different for everyone depending on what type of diabetes you have. You see there are different types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2, gestational, Type 3, etc. As time goes on and more research is done, more types of diabetes are being discovered and reported on. It also depends on what age or stage of the illness you are at, how it manifests itself in your body, and how much you adhere or don’t adhere to your doctor’s guidance. A person with prediabetes or one who is keeping their diabetes successfully under control is going to have a totally different experience than someone whose diabetes has progressed to an amputation, dialysis, or a heart attack. So really I can only speak about my personal journey and what it is like for me. Yes, we all deal with certain aspects of diabetes like doctor’s visits, diet, medications, exercise, etc., or we don’t — that is the baseline for all of us.

Diabetes for me has become pretty rote, centered around doctor’s visits, medication, food, movement, and checking my blood sugar numbers continuously. My daughter thinks I’m obsessed with food, as I’m always fixated on what time I’m going to eat and what I’m going to eat, she sees it somewhat akin to an eating disorder, and I can see where that correlation could be made. My grocery cart always contains certain foods that are diabetic-friendly, many healthy and strange foods I didn’t used to eat. My nightstand and handbags have to always be stocked with hard candies and glucose pills as well as, a small supply of my current medications. It seems my medications are always changing.

My core medications are Metformin and Glimepiride, but in addition, I’ve cycled through Trulicity, Victoza, Ozempic, and Mounjaro as of late. This has resulted in a number of unnerving side effects that I’m always looking out for and dealing with. These have ranged from stomach upsets to heart palpitations, to low blood sugar episodes. Also, my doctor routinely adds high blood pressure medication and cholesterol lowering medication to her patient’s medication regimens. So the side effects and changes to these medications have to be dealt with repeatedly. I take pills plus an injectable diabetes medication. I feel like I am always ordering and taking medications and there are so many moving parts that it is hard to keep things straight. Oh, and fright of all frights, are the new side effects of the semaglutides and tirzepatides such as Ozempic and Mounjaro, which cause the side effect coined “Ozempic face”, where your skin becomes lax and droopy causing you to become much older looking. For someone who prides themself on their attention to skincare, this is quite troubling indeed! So now you have to double up on your skincare routine to mitigate the effects of your medications on your looks.

I have to keep my scheduled doctor’s appointments religiously, because when I don’t have someone to oversee and monitor my treatment, I slowly begin to go off the rails and my blood sugar rises precipitously. This has been proven to me time and time again. Diabetes management consists of a whole slew and team of people including not just me, but also scientists, pharmaceutical companies, doctors, hospitals, nutritionists, pharmacists, eye doctors, educators, etc. and you’ll probably encounter most of these at some point in your journey.

Although I’m pretty much a couch potato, I know I have to not succumb to my natural proclivities to lounge around the house in my jammies eating bon bons all day. So I get up and prepare to work baking sugar-free desserts for my customers who are diabetic like me and those who are trying to eliminate or cut back on sugar in their lives. I also get my exercise each day by dancing to upbeat music. Exercise is proven to help blood glucose levels. Dance as exercise also helps with any depression trying to sneak into my life.

Diabetes is a balancing act. I’m a libre astrological sign. The symbol for libre is the depiction of a balancing scale. I feel like I’m always on this scale watching the weights go up and down and trying to keep things pretty much in the middle, for my life literally depends on continually doing this. If the scale goes too far up I’m looking at hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). If it goes too far down I’m looking at hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). I have to be vigilant as both can be killers if not attended to properly and regularly.

As a diabetic, I’ve had to learn a new way of eating. Gone are most of the carbs I used to load up on in the past. I seldom eat potatoes, white rice, breads, and foods with added sugars now. My meals these days mostly consist of meats, green veggies, and salads. I’ve always liked vegetables, so this is no hardship for me, but I know there are plenty of people out there that detest vegetables in all forms. I guess this diet would be like a form of torture for them. Being a diabetic pastry chef, I make the majority of my own desserts substituting whole grain and nut flours for white flour, and substituting sugar alternatives for sugar in my recipes. I feel my revised dessert recipes taste every bit as good as traditional recipes (and my customers agree). I’m used to and pretty much enjoy this new way of lower carb eating now. It feels and tastes so much healthier to me.

My life might sound a bit overwhelming and complicated to you, but overtime it becomes routine and normal to someone who does not want their condition to graduate to a dangerous and untenable situation. The field of diabetes is becoming so much more advanced and I find myself reading about and looking forward to the new technologies being developed. Stem cells, AI, robots, and other technologies, are being deployed at an amazing speed to help the world eradicate this growing condition. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we successfully eliminate the disease known as diabetes.

Engagement Celebration