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Living with type 2 diabetes

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I still remember the day I was diagnosed with diabetes type 2. It was about ten years ago. I laid on the bed as the doctor continued dressing my wounds and told me what my blood reports revealed. I couldn’t believe him because I never had any symptom!

However, the doctor explained to me that diabetes is not a disease that will make itself evident by producing peculiar symptoms as in fever or cold. Living with type 2 diabetes could be asympthomatic. It develops silently and progresses the same way. In fact, most people come to know they have diabetes just the way I did; I mean when they undergo routine tests or develop any complications. Well... My life changed a lot after this discovery. Let me take you to my routine and an average day since diabetes entered my life.

Waking up in the morning

The first thing I do in the morning is apply moisturizer on the skin. My skin has always been dry. I have been told that I might be more prone to develop skin complications of diabetes due to the itching and scratching I might indulge in due to the dryness.

Hence, I make sure I apply moisturizer every now and then to keep my skin well-hydrated. In fact, I apply it at least 3 to 4 times daily including just after getting up and before the bedtime. I understand that if my skin becomes too dry, I will develop itching and be forced to scratch that may lead to ulcers and wounds that are difficult to heal when one has diabetes!

Starting the day

The latest addition to my morning rituals after I was detected with diabetes is cleaning by tongue with a tongue cleaner. My doctor told me that fungal infections of the skin, as well as oral cavity, are common in the diabetic patients. So, taking proper precautions to maintain the oral hygiene is of utmost importance.

I clean my tongue daily after brushing my teeth so that I don’t develop infections like oral candidiasis. I also need to take care while bathing to clean the webs of fingers and toes as these are the favorite sites of the fungi to reside, grow, and cause infections. Another addition to my bathing habit is drying myself thoroughly after taking a bath, especially the armpits, and other skin folds including the webs. This obviously is meant to prevent infections due to fungi that are known to thrive on moisture.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

I was advised to consult a dietician when I was diagnosed with diabetes type 2. The dietician prescribed me a special diet along with a list of foods to eat and avoid. Depending on this, on every weekend, I prepare a tentative menu for the week. This helps me to build the plan of the diet when I go grocery shopping. I know what exactly I am going to eat and what not. So, I simply pick up everything that is needed for cooking my menu without even glancing at the other tempting foods.

Proper planning about the foods to eat during the week has helped me manage my blood sugar levels effectively. I follow my diet strictly and the results have been quite encouraging. Well, this kind of living it does upset me sometimes! The list of foods I can eat is much longer than what I have to avoid. This has forced me to stay alert during grocery shopping lest I may be tempted to buy something I shouldn’t be eating! It’s difficult; but I do follow it for the sake of my health!

Going to work and taking medications

Since I am dealing with type 2 diabetes, I do not have to take insulin injections. I suppose they are meant for those suffering from type 1 diabetes. I am prescribed some oral medications. I need to take the doses before the breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I have to carry the medications I need to take before the lunch with me to my office. I have set the alarm half an hour before the lunchtime to remind me to take the doses so that I can have the lunch when it’s the time.

Prevention of diabetes type 2 complications

I have realized the only way to prevent the complications of diabetes is to keep my blood sugar levels in control. This primarily depends on how well I control my diet! I have given up several of my favorite foods including cakes, fries, burgers, pastries, and even carbonated beverages. I am told it is not just the carbohydrates that can be harmful to me.

Even fatty foods like burgers and fries must be avoided to keep up in good health because these foods can increase the cholesterol levels and cause a disease called atherosclerosis, which can worsen my diabetes. So, I have removed even the high-fat items from my list of foods to eat.

As far as carbonated beverages are concerned, even the so-called diet soda and no-sugar drinks are dangerous for me as they do contain hidden carbs that can raise my blood sugar levels! So, I have switched to drinking fresh fruit juices or a simple glass of cold water to quench my thirst!

What are the daily limitations and what are the fears?

Diabetes has brought with itself lots of fears! The fear of complications, fear of skin problems, fear of infections, fear of cataract, and much more… All these fears have gripped the pleasures of my life to a large extent. I cannot enjoy my life the way I used to do earlier. Any decision I take including something as trifle as going out for dinner has to be weighted for its pros and cons. Limitations are too many and so are the restrictions on my activities!

What would be my life with type 2 diabetes in the future?

Life has become difficult after diabetes came in! But, over the past few years, I have kind of compromised with the changes I had to make to live with type 2 diabetes. Yet, sometimes, I think, will I have to live my life as per the dictates of this disease? Probably, yes! But, retrospectively, I also think that the changes I have made following diabetes are something I should have done long back. If I had followed a healthy diet and exercised regularly earlier, I might not have suffered from this disease.

So, it all comes down to the same! Whether now or earlier, my life and health depend on how well I take care of my diet and physical activities. What I am following now is just the same I should have done earlier. This thought makes me feel a bit better and helps me get going with my efforts to keep diabetes in control.

What are the risk factors?

My lifestyle is the prime cause for why I am suffering from this disease. I was never serious about what I ate. I did try, on some occasions, to start exercising regularly only to give it a miss after a few weeks or months. I strongly feel that if a person adopts healthy habits, he will live a longer and healthier life free from diabetes and other diseases.

Diabetes is incurable! I cannot reverse the clock of age, remove the main causes and live a disease-free life. However, I strongly urge everyone to take a note of this fact and start changing your unhealthy habits and I am sure, this will help you to prevent diabetes.

The evolution of diabetes type 2

Diabetes is a slowly progressing disease. Actually, it may not progress at all if you keep your blood sugar levels in control. However, if you do not take proper precautions, it can cause considerable damage to the nerves, kidneys, brain, blood vessels, heart, and the eyes. The abnormal changes in these organs occur so slowly that you will not even come to know what’s happening inside your own body until one day you will develop a serious complication like diabetic neuropathy, nephropathy, cataract, hypertension, or a heart attack.

Hence, it is not wise to take this disease lightly and ignore its hidden implications just because you ‘think’ you are in good health. I know it is as important to stick to a healthy diet and exercise routine as it is to check the blood sugar levels regularly. My way of living changed dramatically since I discovered that I suffer from type 2 diabetes. I consult my doctor in case the blood sugar levels are high so that he can change the medications accordingly.

What are the psychological effects when you have diabetes type 2?

I have lost the freedom of my life. The fact that this disease can cause complications slowly over several years without any obvious symptom is quite scary. It is the fear of not knowing whether I am actually healthy or not grips me! I can never be sure of having proper control over diabetes unless I have undergone a complete check-up. This uncertainty has made my life more complex. Sometimes, I wish diabetes caused a few more obvious symptoms that would warn us if something wrong happened inside the body! I wish!

Topics: diabetes

Dr. Jyothi Shenoy

Written by Dr. Jyothi Shenoy

Dr. Jyothi Shenoy is a doctor having a clinical experience of more than 15 years. She has an expertise in treating acute and chronic diseases like obesity, IBS, asthma, arthritis, Autism, ADHD, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, allergies, cancer, infections, and skin diseases. She believes in treating the patients in a holistic manner. She aims at educating the patients about the illness and providing tips related to their lifestyle and diet to ensure a long-term relief from the disease and preventing its recurrence.