Adjusting to Life with Diabetes


Last year my husband was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Needless to say we were surprised, and anxious to know more about this disease. Having heard many diabetes horror stories, about amputations, and kidney problems we were very afraid at what this could mean. Months latter though things are more less under control, and here’s some of the steps we took.

Firstly the signs were all there. My husband had gained a tremendous amount of weight (more than a hundred pounds) in a little over a year. He was up at least five times a night to use the bathroom. He seemed to always need a nap or two a day. He complained of numb toes, and numbness in his left arm. Given his weight gain he constantly worried this numbness was a sign of heart trouble. When we went to the doctor however he knew almost instantly it was type 2 diabetes.

A frenzy of suggestions latter we were out the door with a glucose test device, and a medication called Fortimet. Unfortunately about a month latter we lost our health insurance and had to wait months to get another policy. My husband rationed the glucose test strips, as best as possible, which meant not being able to test nearly as often as recommended. Buying these out of pocket can be very expensive. The Fortimet definitely helped but there were other things that we needed to do in order to get a better control on the situation.

My husband definitely needed a diet. No more beer and wings with the guys. We also had to take a look at the nutrition of every meal and balance sugar, carbs, and protein. Luckily my husband was used to drinking a lot of water anyway, so we weren’t as worried about sugary beverages like soda. It really helped our whole family as well since we thought a lot more about the overall nutrition value, or lack thereof, in the foods we ate.

Another step we had to take was exercise. Rather than drive to work, which is nearby, my husband tried to walk when the weather was appropriate. Similarly rather than drive the half mile to the grocery store he’d walk, or we’d walk over together. With spring now taking hold we’ve also taken up biking together. My husband has lost almost twenty pounds since being diagnosed, probably in part due to the medication, but also due to the increased exercise, and eating right.

Today we have insurance again, and my husband can test his glucose more accurately. Luckily he had enough of his prescription to weather the time without insurance. While it has taken a big lifestyle change, his glucose levels are under much better control. When we began this he often had glucose levels above 300, when normal levels are around 100 at most. Today he’s able to keep it well under 200, and without a lot of huge spikes. While the medication has certainly been very helpful I don’t think we could have accomplished it without diet and exercise changes, especially during the time when we couldn’t afford to see a physician.