I haven’t posted for a while as the hospital room I was in had no internet access. I’d like to say I got plenty of rest as a result, but in hospital? With the comings and goings of staff and other patients, nurses and Doctors poking and prodding you – and the condition you brought with you to contend with as well – rest is not at the top of the list of things a hospital provides. So why stay there?
I’d had a fairly average Sunday visiting my sister-in-law’s for a meal. Now, I like my food. There aren’t many things I won’t eat – although lemon curd and lemon meringue I can live without – so as the years passed I gradually put on more and more weight. At my sister-in-law’s I ate my normal two portions (it was a salad this time, so not very fattening) but afterwards I had a hyperglycaemic attack which led me to hospital. Here they noticed I had high blood sugar of 32 mmol/L which is about five times higher than normal.
Diagnosis: Type 2 diabetes.
That’s the one where you inherit the likelihood of developing diabetes provided you also stuff yourself silly and gain weight. Once my Body Mass Index (BMI) passed 30 I was classed as obese. Like many people, I ate and ate but did no exercise. I sat in front of the TV or computer and avoided exercise like the plague, despite once having been an avid athlete.
As my fat cells increased in number, they began to interfere more and more with my normal sugar metabolism. It’s a fascinating story of physiology, but I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say the body loses the ability to get the energy the sugar carries in the blood into the cells that need it. The blood runs thicker, blood vessels can become blocked, and because less sugar gets into each cell the brain sends messages asking for more and more food. It’s a vicious circle, and can lead to lethargy, tiredness, and other nasties. Amputation for instance. Blindness. Death. It’s serious business.
Surprisingly, sugar is actually a poison: go on, think about it, when did the sugar in your house ever go mouldy? That’s why jam uses sugar to preserve fruit and why low sugar jams go mouldy quicker than full sugar jams.
Type 2 Diabetes isn’t all black though, it can be treated quite easily in many cases using a combination of diet and exercise. It sometimes vanishes completely, although the damage it does generally cannot be repaired.
And that’s where having diabetes can actually improve your life! It’s forced me to change my lifestyle – for the better. I am back to a regular programme of exercise after 25 years without, and I eat so healthily now it’s unreal. I feel I have been given my life back – and I feel a lot younger as a result. My healthy diet (I’ll say more about that in another post when I get around to it) has also resulted in my skin becoming softer, less dry, younger looking. Instead of the 8 Kg weight gain the Doctors expected, I’ve actually lost a bit.
While the drug therapy can substitute for diet and exercise, exercising really does affect your blood sugar in a positive way: your muscles suck sugar out of your blood as fuel, and this allows your natural insulin to get to work again.
I can’t emphasise enough how important diet and exercise are, so I’ll leave a description of them until another post. What is important though, is that having Diabetes is not the end of the world, you can even get a lot of positives from it. I have!