My First Encounter with Diabetes
It was a normal day like any other with the only difference being that my family doctor had received my blood reports and had called me in. I knew something was not right. I was getting yeast infections too often. So here I was in front of the doctor who gave me the news that I had very high HbA1c – 16.6% which was, shockingly, much above the normal threshold of 5.5%. He wanted to know how I was managing and if I had experienced the symptoms of diabetes. Heck no! I drank lots of water and snacked frequently, just as a matter of habit, did not feel any increased need for urination, and did not lose weight. Rather, with all the fast food I was depending on, I had gained weight. I was surprised by the numbers but shared that I was so busy surviving as a recent immigrant that I did not focus on the symptoms. Because, when I started thinking about it, I was dozing off during the day whenever I had a few minutes of quiet time. To be honest, despite brushing my teeth regularly and maintaining oral hygiene, I was a teeny-weeny bit smelly.
To cut the story short, I was put on Metformin, morning and evening, referred to a cardiologist, put on a restrictive diet, and asked to lose weight. Getting off sugar would be the first step. Cokes, juices, and any sugary drinks would follow. Pizza, pasta, and desserts would be off the menu. Oh My God! I would have to make a decision before putting a morsel of food into my mouth, No fun in being a part of social gatherings because I would need to restrict my impulse to just enjoy sharing the mouth-watering food delicacies. Suddenly, life appeared to have lost its charm.
However, I tried to analyze my feelings but it appeared the diagnosis of full-blown Type 2 diabetes had not sunk in. I blamed my father for passing it on to me, my stressful environment for bringing it on with the full force, and my lack of awareness in not recognizing the symptoms. This was despite the fact that my father had battled with it for almost fifty years – half a century. I should have been expecting I would have to deal with this at some point in my life. I was in a much better place than my father. With all technology at my disposal, I could read about this, and find all information to educate myself on how to beat the disease. I could reverse the diagnosis – I will bring the A1c down to 5.5% if not below that. No big steps but baby steps – I CAN do it and I am going to DO IT. Is it going to be easy? Of course not. Is it doable? Sure, I CAN do it. That was a good decision and lulled by my self-talk, I drifted off to sleep.
Unfortunately, I did not realize that I was in complete denial. I had chosen to simply stonewall and distance myself from the diagnosis, and suppress my lurking fears. Therefore, the next morning, impassionate about my disease, but passionate about coming up with a definitive structure for my action research project – personal diabetes reversal. I sat down at my desk ready with all my research tools, and started writing down the steps one by one:
- Problem – Diabetes Type 2
- Implement, starting today, the rudimentary plan given by the doctor
- Collect, organize, analyze, and interpret literature and data about Diabetes Type 2 – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment methodology, Alternate treatment strategies, Results
- Develop a personalized plan by tweaking the doctor’s plan to tackle diabetes for the next 3 months and lower HbA1c to 5.5%
- Evaluate the results of the actions taken after 3 months and readjust the treatment plan
I was thrilled by my first exercise. That was easy. I CAN DO IT. I took a well-deserved cup of coffee with NO SUGAR. Glad to be following the doctor’s orders, I proceeded to the second task. Drew a tentative three-pronged basic plan of action for the first week – food, medication, and exercise. No sugar in tea and coffee, no sugary drinks, reduced ice cream or cake intake, regular metformin intake, and regular walks.
Next, I started putting my action research plan in place. But, before that, I needed to conduct a SWOT analysis for the researcher – myself. Therefore, here I went jotting it down.
- Strengths – I am good at reading, researching, and analyzing situations. Stepping out of my comfort zone, taking on challenges, and finding solutions exhilarate me.
- Weaknesses – I am not good at following routines and tend to give up if the task appears to be never-ending. I need quick gratification to keep the adrenaline pumping.
- Opportunities – First, get to lower my fasting blood glucose and HbA1c levels. Second, gain academic knowledge about a new topic. Third, get first-hand experience of trying out various diabetes control strategies. Last but not the least, avail the possibility of helping others to reverse diabetes.
- Threats – I may develop diabetes complications if I do not follow the doctor’s orders religiously. I may end up confused and discouraged after all information about the disease
Equipped adequately, I set off, ready to combat diabetes type 2 and emerge victorious. Fortunately, at that point in time, I had no idea that the scientific process was a way for me to mask my fear and dread of accepting the stark naked truth that I had full-blown diabetes. It was not only a research project but also a process of discovery, after experimentation and implementation, to choose the lifestyle that made it possible to thrive after diabetes reversal – sorry, not diabetes reversal but diabetes control.
To wrap things up, my first encounter with diabetes set me up on an exploratory path leading me to succeed in fighting against a debilitating disease. It brought into focus my innate desire to share my experiential journey with others fighting against diabetes Type 2. So, here I am, ready to admit that my first encounter with diabetes resulted in complete denial of the truth. It took many months for the reality to hit me – I am diabetic and it is serious. Today, I am proud to say that I am thriving with diabetes because I have adopted strategies to keep my numbers low. I would love to share the resources and strategies that led me to the essential fact that diabetes type 2 can be controlled successfully.
What was your first reaction when diagnosed as diabetic? Did it change at any stage?