Coping With Diabetes

Kathy Cook
By Kathy Cook Latest Reply 2009-01-31 13:24:12 -0600
Started 2009-01-21 21:27:46 -0600

About a year ago, my dietician suggested that I write a paper on how I handled it. So I did. She thought that it was good & she's going to hand it out to other patients (with my permission of course). I'm not recommending this way for everyone. It's just to show that if I can do it, anyone can.

"My Diabetes and How I Handle It"

I was 61 years old when I was diagnosed with Diabetes. I am now 62 1/2 years old. It's been a hectic time for me with a lot of changes.

At first I was very resistant to the whole idea. Diabetes? Me? It can't be! The doctor had to be wrong. There was no way that I was going to prick my fingers to test my blood sugar or give myself insulin shots. Not me! Little did I know that I would change (for the better) and how (relatively) easy it would be to change my eating habits.

The first thing to realize is that having a diagnosis of Diabetes is not the end of the world. In a way, it's a beginning. A beginning of getting healthy and staying that way. There is no 'Diabetic Diet'. You will have to change your ways of eating, but it doesn't mean that you have to give up all of the foods that you love. The key to the whole thing is PORTIONS!

Once I decided to stop fighting, I started taking the medicine my doctor prescribed for me. Then I had him write an order so that I could see a Dietician. I still see her every 6 weeks. She's a good source of encouragement & ideas. She's very helpful & I enjoy my visits with her. We discuss my progress & how I'm doing with my diet. By diet I mean all of the food that I eat, not a restricted diet. When I first saw her, she set me up with an eating plan. I'm supposed to limit myself to 40 carbs per meal (3) & 15 carbs per snack (3). She usually has something new to try. She doesn't put any pressure on me at all. I try to remember this & I always check labels for carbohydrates & saturated fats.

The first thing that we talked about was how I should be eating. The things that you have to be very careful with are carbohydrates & saturated fats.

There are a lot of foods that are low in carbohydrates. Things like eggs, fish & meats. Unless they're breaded. You do have to watch saturated fats though. My dietician told me not to exceed 7 grams of saturated fats per day. Saturated fats are fats that come from animals. Vegetable oil is unsaturated & therefore fair game. So, as long as you don't use animal fat, you can eat fried foods. Just make sure that you're careful about the carbohydrates in the food that you're frying. Smaller portions are the name of the game. I'm told that Olive Oil is the best oil to use. I have not tried it yet, but I plan to.

I do have some physical limitations that get in my way, but I've actually lost over 40 pounds. I have 2 herniated discs & suffer from frequent back pain & stiffness. I do have exercises to do & I can exercise a lot more when I do them, but I'm bad at that. I also have Fibromyalgia & I've had Lyme's Disease.

My major problem is my teeth. I need to have them all pulled & then get full dentures. Meanwhile I have a lot of trouble eating anything that has to be chewed really well. So I don't eat too much meat. I eat a lot of chicken & tuna fish (right out of the can). Tuna has no carbohydrates or saturated fats, either. Even if it's packed in oil, it's okay because it's usually fish oil & that's not saturated.

Because of my teeth I do wind up eating a lot of things with carbohydrates. Things like potatoes, pasta, etc. I also like Quaker Rice Cakes. They're low in carbohydrates & there are quite a few flavors as well. I love them. I also eat fried potatoes & onions. The onions don't really count for anything (except nutrition), but I do have to watch how many potatoes I use.

It's not true that you can't eat sugar. Sugar in itself does not cause Diabetes. But it can cause weight gain & that can bring it on. I have found that I have lost most of my cravings for most things. I do indulge myself once in a while. Every now & then I crave chocolate. So, when I do, I go out & get a bar of chocolate. It's the same with ice cream & other things. My dietician suggested that I buy novelty ice cream. That way, the portions are limited. In my case that doesn't work at all. I tend to eat more.

As far as testing is concerned, that doesn't have to be painful any more. There are a lot of new meters available that you can use other sites for to get blood. I use a Bayer Contour Ascensia meter & I have the option to use my fingers (not my choice), my forearms or my palms. I always use my arms. Most of the time I don't even feel it. If it does hurt it's usually because I have a cut or something on my arm. Sometimes my left arm is jumpy. This is because I had Carpal Tunnel Surgery & the nerves are not completely healed yet. Then it can hurt there, too.

Having Diabetes today doesn't mean that you will have to give yourself injections, either. There are many oral drugs available now. My doctor has me on 'Janumet', which is a combination of 'Januvia' & 'Metformin'. I have had no side effects at all. It doesn't cause you to gain weight & it helps me to keep my blood sugar in check. There is nothing that says that you'll ever need insulin. Insulin does not mean that you're really sick. Insulin is a hormone which your body either can't use properly or at all. If you do need to take it, you take it to keep you healthy, not cure a disease. Of course, you need to eat right & take your medicine.

Something else that you have to watch out for are other drugs. In August of 2008 I had Carpal Tunnel Surgery & an epidural for my low back pain. What I was unaware of was that steroids (such as cortisone) can raise your blood sugar. In my case it tripled my readings (to 350 the day after). My doctor told me to wait it out for a while & see if it came down on its own, but it never got down to where it should be. So he increased my Janumet & now I'm fine.

I was able to get my blood sugar under control quickly. My A1c is 5.4 & has been that for over 6 months. I feel much better. Diabetes can really make you feel sick & not even know why.

One of the things that I have used in the past & got a lot of fun & encouragement from was my talking pedometer. It's broken now & I have to replace it, but I'm going to get another one as soon as possible. It tracked my steps, calories used (I don't think that that's accurate), mileage & the time that I'm actually moving. I discovered that I covered a lot more ground that I realized. It also told me the numbers if I wanted it to. All I had to do was press a button & a voice would tell me. The only problem (only a minor inconvenience) I had with it was that it would tell me my readings without me consciously asking. I came to the conclusion that I was accidently pressing the button. It was a little weird at night when I was walking my dog at night.

In conclusion, if you you have been diagnosed with Diabetes, don't despair. It's not the end of the world. If you take care of yourself properly you should be able to have a happy & healthy life.

9 replies

tabby9146 2009-01-31 13:24:12 -0600 Report

Thank you so much for sharing this. It makes me feel better. I am newly diagnosed and even though I have been to 3 out of my 4 classes and read LOTS of literature, I learned a couple of things in your post. I love those Quaker rice cakes too! Maybe I should see if my insurance will pay for a dietician that I can see sometimes. I think that would be very beneficial.

kantzfe 2009-01-31 09:31:09 -0600 Report

Thanks for the article you wrote about coping with diabetes. I was very interested in your writing that I had to print a copy so that I can post it in my kitchen where I can see it during the day.

starzone 2009-01-24 16:19:31 -0600 Report

I really enjoyed reading your post, and it's good to know you're doing well and hope you'll continue to do so. I've learned a little more on coping with being a diabetic,

2catty 2009-01-22 22:13:35 -0600 Report

Thank you for sharing. By the way steroids raise my blood sugar too. I had to take them for a allergic reaction for 10 days and my sugar triples as well. I felt horrible the whole time. I am so glad you have learned to deal with the health issue you was dealt.

LadyDi - 26259Miller
LadyDi - 26259Miller 2009-01-22 21:17:31 -0600 Report

Beautifully said and very encouraging. Your doctor had a good idea asking this of you. It's a good way of assessing your own efforts, and it certainly is something that diabetics can relate to and learn from. Your've obviously done a great job with your diabetes control. Doctors love patients like you. Glad you took the time to share this with us.

2009-01-24 17:07:43 -0600 Report

Thank you for sharing this post with
us. I can relate to your story, as I have so msny Issues you have also.

treesgirl 2009-01-22 13:59:20 -0600 Report

As newly diagnosed and with some of the same other issues you have, I really apprecaite not only the information but also your postitive attitude. THANKS.

Avera 2009-01-22 00:29:19 -0600 Report


I am so glad that you shared this with us. I agree with your doctor. If I had read this article when I was first told I had diabetes, I would have surely felt much better about it.

I'm looking forward to hearing more about you in the future.


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