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T2 – my first 50 days
I’ve just gone past 50 days since diagnosis so I thought I would write a blog of my experience. It’s not advice, definitely not medical advice, but hopefully it might help other newbies now and in the future to see that the feelings they have are not unusual and to emerge from the fog of confusion and start to organise themselves into a plan.
Like many, I wasn’t expecting this diagnosis, and it was a shock. At first it came with some good news because I was having tests for some more serious conditions which were all OK. But as I left the cardiologist and went back to the consultant to get my blood results back, I was hit with the news.
My Hb1Ac was 66, my fasting blood glucose at 9.7. Not through the roof, but solidly in, “no doubt” T2D territory. I also had hypertension (that was through the roof, alarms going off), high cholesterol and a fatty liver.
The loudest voice in your head are the lies you tell yourself – but here was the truth laid bare. It instantly challenged my complacent, "everything in moderation", view of life.
Like many, I didn’t consider myself in the "at risk" camp. I exercise regularly, ate what I thought was a balanced diet (it wasn’t, on closer inspection), I was a bit overweight, but by no means obese. I drank a bit more than the guidelines, but hey, don’t we all. I wasn’t the sort of person you see in the media when they are talking about Type 2.
I know now. I’ve “met” on this site lots of people like me. The public perception of the risk is all wrong. The public perception of what a balanced diet means, what “everything in moderation” means is as broad as the hills.
So the diagnosis sent me into a whirlpool of confusion, fear, sadness and shame. I had rethink lots of things that I thought I understood, that I thought were true about me, my life, and the condition. I had to suddenly contemplate the medical implications, the treatment choices, the long term implications for my life, as well as the emotional upheaval, the learning about the condition, and my fears about the stigma and perception that people hold about Type 2. It is frequently reported as the biggest problem for the NHS, and suddenly I was part of the problem.
I was lucky in that I was diagnosed via a medical test and the doctor (not my GP) took time to talk to me, offered me advice, was reassuring. He wanted to focus on sustainable lifestyle changes. The doctor sent me a blood testing kit with some strips, and gave me a prescription for Metformin.
Both the drugs and kit stayed in the cupboard for a fortnight. I didn’t even want to read the instructions. The side effects list filled me with dread. I started on the Ramipril for the hypertension straight away – I could handle that. But for a couple of weeks I just started to focus on cutting down the carbs a bit – not completely but enough to make a start. I booked to see my GP – who confirmed the diagnosis, the advice on diet, but told me not to bother testing my blood (which is what I wanted to hear).
I started on the medication, just one a day: it was fine, no side effects. I lost a couple of kg quite quickly. Slowly I was starting to own the condition. Maybe I should find out more about it. Maybe there was a website that could help me?
So I came here. Read the information sections. Found out more about blood sugar, the readings, the ranges; found out about diet options, and started to read the forums. I was still very emotional and scared but thought maybe I should dip my toe in and post in the newbie forum, share where I was at.
It was a genuinely life changing moment for me. I wasn’t now just using the website as a reference resource but as a source of mentoring, support, encouragement, advice, challenge and friendship. I found that there are lots of people like me. I found there are lots of people with very different stories, and different challenges, all of which are enlightening.
Very quickly the blood testing kit came out of the cupboard: I now test before and (2hrs) after meals – I wish I knew that sooner. It teaches me so much about my blood sugar and how it reacts to different foods. It also jumps about a lot – I’m learning to ride the emotional rollercoaster that brings. I record my results on an App called Mysugr – it’s simple to use and I like it.
I’ve really hammered down on the carbs: at first I was half hearted about this but have realised that I’m better if I cut them out wherever I can. Except porridge – a little treat with cinnamon twice a week, which doesn’t affect me too badly. I love my diet now – I always did like the healthy food, and ate plenty of it, just before it was wrapped in or hidden under a carpet of carbohydrate.
It is working. Weight down (9kg in first 50 days). HbA1C down from 66 to 44 (I had a follow up test). BP down, cholesterol down.
I come back to this site every day – it is habit forming. I post my morning blood reading on a running thread in Diabetes Discussions section – it’s a fun thread with some great people on it. I join in some discussions and try to help others who are new where I can. Hopefully this blog is helpful too.
It still isn’t easy. It is still raw, fresh and emotional. I’ve still found it hard to talk to people in the real world and have only just started 50 days in. I felt the stigma, the misconceptions: I felt like it would be owning up to an addiction (to carbs?). In truth, now I’ve started the reaction has been really positive – sympathetic, interested and curious to know more, supportive. It was easier because I had some progress to report, and I felt like I’d taken control.
I don’t know what the next 50 days holds – fewer surprises I hope, and maybe some new, smaller clothes to wear.
If you are just starting out on your T2 journey then well done, because you are looking in the right place. Take a breath, take control, make a little plan: for the next day, the next week, take it day by day. It gets better.
Thank you for reading.