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Thoughts on Health – 3/23/2012 – Diabetes education class

I did something different today.  I took a diabetes education class.  I had never heard of a diabetes education class until both my health insurance plan and my new doctor discussed it with me.  Today was the first of six 2-hour sessions, and I must admit I was skeptical.  I wondered what they could tell me that I did not already know from doing my own reading and research.  However, I was quite surprised overall.  This was the introductory session, and a good portion of it was either things I did not know or things that I had never had explained to me so clearly before.  I have a better knowledge of how diabetes works, how the digestive system works, and what is happening when we have high and low blood sugar.  I found the whole experience to be highly valuable.  They will also set us up with a dietician who will work on us with a food plan and so forth as well over the future sessions.  I am glad that I have had the opportunity to participate in this, and I hope that the future sessions are just as interesting.

The other valuable thing that I got out of it solved a diabetes problem that I had been having.  The blood glucose tester I was given by my previous doctor has very expensive supplies that are not covered by insurance.  I just assumed that meant the the testers and supplies were not covered by insurance at all.  However, the diabetes educator there told me that my health insurance simply didn’t cover that brand but that if I had one that was covered, then my supplies would be covered with a copay as well.  Then, they gave me two free meters to use that would be covered.  So, once I use up the supplies for the one that I have now, I will then be able to have my supplies covered by insurance from this point forward.  That is also excellent news.

So, overall it was an excellent use of a Friday morning, and I have my next session next Thursday.

Thoughts on Health – 3/2/2012 – Diabetes check-up

I had good news today from my recent doctor visit.  The results came back from my blood and urine tests, the first one since I have gotten my diabetes under control.  I don’t have all of the numbers, as they were supposed to email them to me, but I have not received them yet.  What I can say is that I was given a clean bill of health at this point.  I asked about some of the numbers, and my non-fasting blood glucose level was 111, which is just fine for middle of the day with no fasting and after lunch.  My a1c level was 5.5, which is actually great.  It is supposed to be under 7 to be considered under control, so that is also a very good number.  All of my other levels seem to be ok, as the nurse said there was nothing else there to worry about at this point.  Until I see the numbers specifically, I can’t report anything more than that, as I need to look at the iron numbers and cholesterol, but apparently they are not at any sort of alarming level.

So, what that all means is that what I have been doing to try and control my diabetes is working.  My combination of diet and a bit of medicine has dramatically changed my blood glucose levels, as they were over 350 before I started anything.  I just checked, and for the last 90 days, my blood glucose average has been 104, and I average between about 95-100 on my fasting checks in the morning.  All of that seems to be right on target from everything I have read.  I have had a few spikes, but nothing serious at all, and I have not had any particular lows either, as I have been good at making sure that I keep everything going well.

I guess what that means is that I’m doing well so far.  Good news.

Miscellaneous Thoughts – 2/16/2012

Not a long post today.  That tetanus shot on Tuesday is really getting me down.  I’m surviving on Tylenol/Advil to keep going, but I just don’t have any real energy or drive at the moment.  So, just a few thoughts here:

  1. Frankie really loves music, especially when I’m whistling along too it.  We’re listening to Tool right now, and she is really responding.
  2. My wife reminded me last night that I had told her that it couldn’t be that bad when she got a tetanus shot a year ago.  I admitted I was wrong.
  3. We had homemade spaghetti for the third time tonight.  I’m going to freeze the rest of it, as three times in a row is enough of any meal.
  4. My wife is gone to class tonight and won’t be back until very late.  She does that on Wednesday’s as well, so I am fully responsible for feeding the kids and getting them ready for bed on those nights.  The other nights, we share the responsibility.
  5. I am very proud of my wife for finishing up her BA this spring.
  6. The kids had chore night tonight – vacuuming, emptying the garbage cans, emptying the dishwasher, and general cleaning.  I did the dishes and am doing laundry.
  7. It just occurred to me that I should also go check my blood sugar soon, as feeling off and out of it is never a good sign for a diabetic.  I’ve got about another hour until it’s been 2 hours since food, so I’ll check it then to see where I am.  Then, I’ll have dessert.  My dessert is something I made for myself, a low-sugar graham cracker crust, no sugar strawberry mousse (from a package), strawberry slices, and no sugar whipped topping.
  8. I have nothing else to say at the moment and will sign off for the day.

Thoughts on Health – 2/15/2012 – A New Doctor

So, we decided as a family to take a big step.  We left our previous doctor and switched to a new one.  We had been increasingly unhappy with our previous doctor, and it finally reached the point where we felt that we were no longer getting good care.  I asked around at work and got a solid recommendation from several people.  I saw him for the first time yesterday and was quite pleased with the treatment.  I actually liked my previous doctor quite a bit at first, but he moved to a new office and joined a new network, and the level of care has declined since.  A couple of examples (without giving away any specific medical information) can illustrate this.  First, both my wife and I felt that the doctor tended to not pay very much attention to our health at any regular basis, but when we did go in, they always seemed to find some huge, panic-inducing thing wrong with us.  Yet, we would get sent to specialists recommended by the doctor and get basically a run around with little ever getting solved.  So, it quickly came to seem either like the doctor was continually overreacting or we were getting sent to people who couldn’t figure out what the problems were.  Second, the doctor dropped off the map on preventative care, with me not getting a physical or blood work unless I asked for it, despite being on several medications that should require at least yearly blood work.  In fact, before I was diagnosed with diabetes, it had been over 4 years since my previous blood work, and it was only because I asked if I should have blood work done that anything was even done on that appointment.  Third, getting in to see this doctor became increasingly like a cattle call, with 5-6 people sitting back in rooms waiting for the doctor to come by and spend a few minutes with them.  And, he was the only doctor in the building, with only a nurse practitioner helping him.

The contrast with the new doctor could not be stronger.  I was the first in the family to see him, although we will transfer everyone over.  For one, I had a 1:30 appointment, and it turns out I was THE 1:30 appointment, with the next appointment not until 2:30.  That is amazing compared to my previous doctor who had multiple people scheduled every 15 minutes.  I saw the nurse for about 15 minutes and then the doctor and nurse together for another 20-30 minutes.  We did a complete account of my medical history, working both off of paperwork I had filled out and from our conversation as well.  Then, he proceeded to analyze and discuss each of my issues separately, spending a good amount of time on each, discussing them with me, giving his opinion on how things were being treated at the time and where treatment should go, and finally giving me time to ask questions about each.  I’m not going to go into all of the different things, but since I have already written about diabetes here, I will use that as an example.  My previous doctor had diagnosed me with diabetes, given me a glucose monitor, a prescription, and some pamphlets.  This doctor sat down with me and talked extensively about diabetes and the problems associated with it.  He also listened to my own account of what I had done (lost almost 30 pounds since September for example) and gave me guidance.  He also said the first step he wanted to do was sign me up for a diabetes education program, something not mentioned at all by my previous doctor.  He also said that he wanted to see daily glucose reports as well as getting blood work done every 3 months to keep on top of my condition.  I came away feeling that I was in good hands in this situation.  We also did both blood and urine work there, so that a baseline could be ascertained.  It wasn’t fasting, but it gives some basic idea for the doctor to work from.

He also believes in preventative care more than my previous doctor.  He insisted on a tetanus booster, as I was about 15 years out from my last one.  I can’t thank him for that today, as my arm is very sore, and I’ve been feverish and achy for most of the day.  But I do believe in preventative medicine overall.  I was also impressed that when I left, the nurse, who had been there taking notes the whole time, handed me a printed out summary of what we had talked about, what the treatment plan was, and what else needed to be done.  I know one visit is not enough to establish everything, but I really do feel in better hands.  So, I can say that this was a very positive step, especially with the multiple chronic health issues that I have.  I’ll keep reporting back in between the education coverage here, as health is becoming more and more of an important part of my life as well.

Thoughts on Diabetes

I have not exactly made it a secret, but I have also not been all that public about my diagnosis with diabetes.  I was diagnosed with it in September 2011, so I’ve been living with it for about five months now.  There’s no telling how long I’d actually had it before then, as I had not had a blood test in about 4 years before.  Now I have a transformed life, a “food life” as someone once called it.  I have to worry about food all of the time – what I eat, when I eat, how much I eat.  I’m not trying to get sympathy or anything, it’s just something that is different and difficult.  So, I just thought I’d share a few thoughts:

  • Having diabetes makes you focus on mortality.  You always think about the fact that you have a chronic disease, one that is likely to mean hardships earlier in life than they might otherwise have been.  Since you can’t escape diabetes, you can’t escape this thought.
  • Eating well is hard.  I have put myself on a no-sugar, low-carb diet.  What carbs I do eat are whole grain and/or high fiber.  I don’t always eat well, as I am a snacker by nature, but I have been able to adjust fairly well.
  • I’ve lost 20-25 pounds since the diagnosis, and I’m down from a 35-32 pant to a 32/33-32 pant.  That has been all through diet, as I am not exercising any more than before.  I am eating more meals/snacks and fewer big meals.  I eat about every two hours.
  • I don’t have any real extremes yet, either of high or low blood sugar, but I can definitely tell when it’s time to eat.  I get light-headed and such.  The lowest my blood sugar has read so far is 80.  The highest since I started testing has been 158, after I had a beer and nachos at a concert.
  • It is impossible for one person in a family to have diabetes and not have it affect everyone else.  Since I do a good portion of the cooking here, I make things for myself that work for me, and everyone else eats similarly.  We have not cut sugar and carbs out of everyone else’s diet, but everyone is eating differently, with more whole grains and fewer empty starches.
  • Diet drinks aren’t terrible once you get used to them.  That being said, Diet Coke is disgusting.
  • I don’t check my blood sugar as often as I probably should.  However, my blood sugar appears to be under control.
  • They say that losing weight can really lessen diabetes.  Perhaps losing that much weight has helped a lot.  I might go off of the half-dose of medicine I’m taking now and see what it does to my blood sugar at that point.