I’ve just had my latest HbA1c results and I’m absolutely delighted
that it’s down to 6.9 – from 10.7 when I was first diagnosed in July last year. My cholesterol and BP is good too, so its such a big relief I’ve finally got my diabetes under control.
But it hasn’t been easy and I thought I would jot down some thoughts about what I’ve learned along the way. Everyone’s circumstances are different, this is just my experience. So here goes:
1. you are what you eat – it has been a revelation to discover just how much sugar there is in some many foods even ones that have a ‘healthy’ image – e.g. fruit smoothes and juices, low fat yoghurt (and other low-fat products), muesli etc. Shocking - its no wonder we are heading for a diabetes epidemic and the sugar is now seen, rightly in my view, as a major threat to public health. I’ve adopted a low-carb diet from the outset and I rarely buy anything now in the supermarkets without checking carb and sugar content. I found the book ‘Carbs and Cals’ a real eye-opener about the amount of carbs in different foods – even fruit – and portion size. Interesting I eat much more full fat products and this hasn’t affected my cholesterol at all. I should say that I never had a weight problem so the diet has been about BG not weight reduction.
2. testing my BG has been really important for me – its helped me work out not only which particular foods cause my BG to rise but also the impact of exercise (very positive) and stress (usually negative) on my BG levels. And by recording the results it has helped me to see a pattern in my BG levels for example during the week when I’m at work, at weekends and holidays. I don't test as often now, unless I’m doing or eating something differently. I strongly recommend that newly diagnosed T2s consider testing regularly even if your GP say its not necessary. I would have made nowhere near as much progress had I just relied on quarterly HbA1C results – it means that are ‘flying blind’ most of time in terms of your awareness of BG levels.
3. Getting the right mixture of diet, exercise and medication has been hard work but I seem to have got the balance right. I am walking to work every day – about 35 minutes each way – and I feel so much better as a result. But diet and exercise weren’t enough on their own, so in September I went on Gliclazide 80mgs and then in November Metformin 1000mgs. This little bit of help seems to have done the trick. But I don’t want to over-rely on medication and keeping up the exercise and keeping the carbs down will continue to be very important for me.
4. Getting advice and information from this forum has been incredibly helpful. I’ve derived huge emotional support and encouragement from the messages posted here and I’d advise newly diagnosed T2s not to underestimate the psychological impact of diagnosis and the impact on those around you. I’ve taken more than I’ve given to this Forum so I hope this post will redress the balance. I am so grateful to people who have taken the time and trouble to respond to my posts in the earlier days.
5. Working at the relationship with your GP and diabetes nurse: initially my experience was of being measured, pricked, prodded and poked with little feedback about the results. The NHS’s default position seems to be treat you as a passive recipient rather than supporting you to take responsibility for managing your condition. I’ve had to be pretty assertive in asking for exact results and making it clear that I don’t expect pills to do everything, In fairness my GP has responded to this and I now feel more like a partner in my own care planning than a passive patient.
This is just my story. I have this condition for life and I’m under no illusions. But I’m so relieved that I do now seem to have got things under control. I hope these words will be helpful to anyone who is in the early stages of getting to grips with their diabetes.