Friday, February 12, 2010

Diabetes and Hunting; Episode 1

After talking to Mike, he told me that Chico and him were talking about my diabetes and how I should blog about it. Living with it for this long it’s kind of second nature for me to make sure I’m prepped and prepared for any of my outdoor activates. I guess that after those guys had to get the “prep” talk when we were at the ATA, it might have opened their eyes that Diabetes really is a life changer.

For this first episode, I’m going to give a little back ground on how I discovered that I was diabetic and some of the initial changes that I had to make in my life. Then we’ll chat about how that changes your hunting and out door activities.

I, like so many others, simply missed the first signs that my body was trying to tell me that something was wrong. All through my school years I was always a “bean pole” as my mom called me. At 15, I was 6’2” and 135 lbs… High winds just went right around me. Growing up with horses and hunting, I was always extremely active. During those teenage years I ate constantly and drank enormous amounts of pop and juice… never knowing I was showing the first signs of diabetes. When I got married I had finally made it up to 165 lbs, which still didn’t help my final height of 6”3” look any bigger than a cedar post with cloths on. My appetite was still voracious and I drank like a fish (what a ridiculous euphemism). It wasn’t until 1992 that I started to wonder about my health.

In 1992, with assistance from Mike, I decided to build my own house. After 8 months of using up vacation days at work and working late into the night, the house was done. However, during this whole exhausting process, I noticed that opposite of what you would think, my weight ballooned up! Huh? I never changed my eating habits, I was continuously exhausted (no time off work, working on house, new baby….yikes) but I put on over 45 lbs. Then, within months of completion, my weight dropped back down, losing all the weight I gained. Again, my eating habits never changed. I was still drinking constantly…and what goes in must come out…a HUGH sign of diabetes that I did not know about.

Over the next few years I constantly dealt with living with a bottle of pop in my hand and a restroom close by. Then there were the changes in attitude…I was moody and angry, I snapped at people and was overly aggressive. Another sign of diabetes I knew nothing about. Around about this time, my eye sight was getting off. I’d always had perfect vision so it was something that really concerned me. So, I went to the eye doctor for a full check up. Since I went to an Ophthalmologist instead of a general Optometrist, my exam was more medically oriented than corrective. During this check up, the doctor asked me if I’d had any blood work done lately. No?, then let’s just send you over to the lab and have it done, just because. Later that night I called the lab to find out what the results were and what the doctor was looking for. The lab tech sounded a bit concerned and was surprised I was home…. Huh? They instructed me to call my doctor, asap, after I got to the ER.!?! What had shown up on my blood work was a fasting glucose level of 333. Since a healthy person’s glucose level should be between 70 and 115, I was just a tad bit high…to say the least.

The nightmare begins:

Unfortunately, I’ve been a bit accident prone and I’m quite familiar with hospitals, quite. After hours of waiting and finding out that I was severely dehydrated (How? I drink constantly!) and after receiving 3 bags of saline solution to rehydrate me, I got the bad news;
Welcome to the world of diabetes.

I guess one positive thing was discovered… I did not have diabetic retinopathy. My eye’s were just getting bad naturally. So, I guess I should be thankful for getting a little bit “fuzzy”, it saved my life. I found out that the excessive drinking was my body’s way of trying to flush the over abundance of “sugars” out of my system…before my kidneys gave out. It explained the weight gain while I was building my house… I was so active that my body was starting to store more sugars as fat. Stress was shooting my sugar storage to whole new hights. Most diabetic discoverys of type II diabetes, is found in excessively over weight individuals. The first step in taking care of yourself is weight control. Some diabetics even stop being diabetic after they’ve lost the excess weight. My being so active all the time was what kept me alive. I had enough activity to keep burning those carbohydrates enough that it prevented me from going into a comma, for years.


After I was release from the hospital, I had a string of appointments already scheduled. First, with my primary care physician, then an endocrinologist, a dietician, and a diabetic specialist and training center. Let me note that I am very needle phobic. From all the blood testing done I’m surprised the floor didn’t jump up and hit me in the face….oh yea, I was laying down each time…. Whew. Anyways, from all the blood work done the “crew” of doctors decided to put me on a pill regimen. The dietician then opened my eyes on what was ok to eat and what was not. Imagine my surprise to find out bread of all things is really bad for diabetics… it’s full of carbohydrates. Those quarter pound cheese burgers and large fries……pull the buns and the fries and it’s closer to being ok to eat. The list of changes I had to make immediately is a long one.

For this episode, I just want to point out that something like diabetes can really sneak up on you if you let it. That’s the key, if you let it. Your body will tell you there’s a problem, we all need to learn how to listen. For diabetics, here’s a couple of warning signs that might indicate something is not quite right; mood swings, excessive thirst, excessive urination, vision problems, weight gain, injuries slow to heal and minor cuts and abrasions scaring easily. High blood sugars can cause you to be tired all the time or sleep a lot. Your fingers and/or toes tingle at times for no reason. Low sugars can cause you to shake and stumble. Get too high and you can go into a comma and your organs shut down. Get too low and you can go into a comma and your organs shut down….no, I’m not repeating myself. Think of blood sugars like cotton candy...what happens when cotton candy gets wet? That's kinda what happens when you have too much sugar in your blood stream....things clog up and circulation is destroyed.

Next episode – Changing my life and making a decision to live.

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