My name is Alison and I am a grateful T2 diabetic. I was diagnosed just over 3 years ago. For some 5 years prior to the diagnosis I had neuropathy happening in one foot then slowly the other became numb. When I had my first HbA1c test done it was 5.9 so when I saw an endocrinologist he felt that other factors were in play but said that an average does not tell the whole story and ran more tests. Other than a deficiency of Vitamin D3 there were no remarkable results. The endo read the riot act to me and told me I had weight and cms to lose and to get my morning fasting figures down from 6.2-3 to under 6.0 added Metformin to my reflux, statins and BP meds. As I left his rooms he said I should not eat carbs.
I was annoyed at the whole scene, diabetes, medications and a doctor giving me instructions as if was incapable of making valued and informed decisions. How could a person survive without carbs? He obviously did not know a great deal about nutrition, I thought. A couple of weeks later I found a book on ‘Reversing T2 diabetes” and though I knew this was not possible I bought it and found that Sandra Cabot’s recipes had very few carbs. Immediately I started to lose weight and when I returned to the endo for a follow up visit 3 weeks later I had already lost 3 kgs and my blood glucose readings were improving. The endo told me to keep on doing whatever I was doing and come back in 6 months.
I soon discontinued the reflux medication I had been taking for about 10 years as I cut the carbs, found the Atkins book on Diabetes and the weight continued to fall away. I was now reading extensively on the net about low carbing, viewing forums and absorbing all the information I could. Then I came across Bernstein and ordered his book and was now getting fasting BGs of 4.2 and my blood pressure was well under what my target should be. I discontinued my medication slowly including the statins though at a routine diabetes check with my GP she thought the endo would not be happy with me stopping meds without his permission. By eating the Bernstein way I was find new, tasty recipes and I had reluctantly stopped eating all fruit, except berries.
At my follow up appointment with the endo I had lost around 10 kgs with 5 more to get to his target and had a few more centimetres to lose from my waist and my A1c was now 5.0. He was OK with me stopping the meds with the exception of the statin as he said that my cholesterol had gone up slightly and shook my confidence somewhat so I purchased the statins. Knowledgeable posters on low carb forums put research my way and some of these studies indicated that total cholesterol figures might get slightly worse when embarking on a low carb eating plan before improving. Within a few weeks I stopped the statins taking courage that what I researched would prove to be correct and it did!
My last A1c was 5.3 and I have now returned three consecutive readings in the non-diabetic range while I remain medication free. Total cholesterol is now is 4.97 with chol/HDL ratio at 2.5 all achieved by the low carb lifestyle. I supplement with D3 daily as do all my family now and my last result was excellent. I am passionate about the food I eat and have five large raised bed, no dig gardens in my back garden with every imaginable green vegetable, herb and berry growing in them as we in Australia experience the hottest summer in 150 years tempered with floods and cyclones up north which will cause the prices of produce to increase dramatically.
I understand Mount Everest is “standing room only ” these days. The Three Peaks are becoming equally crowded and those who are into marathon running have less chance of winning the lottery for a chance of entering the London Marathon, than of winning the National Lottery. I don’t need any of that, I climb a mountain every day. I have to keep my bg levels not only low but stable to avoid losing my sight, perhaps I am more like a juggler or tight rope walker, that is how it feels. Like every other diabetic I do my best to lead a normal life. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes not so easy. The thing is I firmly believe that my present condition might very easily have been avoided.
My accidental diagnosis in A & E after I had collapsed with an unrelated problem did not have to lead to where I am today. The advice and treatment I received was appalling and counter -productive, I would quite seriously have been better off undiagnosed. I blame the system not individuals. I have met HCP’s who have gone out of their way to assist me. I had never been overweight. I exercised regularly and had a healthy diet, which just happened to be low carb although I didn’t realise or call it that. My father had been diagnosed T2 but told no one and even his Dr. forgot about it. He later suffered a stroke and then dementia probably because of his untreated diabetes. My sister has also been diagnosed with pre-diabetes so there is a strong genetic component. So there I was, almost 60 just about to retire, never been seriously ill, never smoked and only drank occasionally. Then what I can only describe as a nightmare began.
I was immediately prescribed metformin and statins etc. The metformin made me very ill, not just the usual gastric upsets but speech, coordination and balance too. I was told to eat more carbs to stop the sickness, this worked but naturally my BG’s increased. The metformin was increased to the maximum to no avail and eventually I was given Rosiglitazone which caused my macular oedema, retinopathy, maculopathy etc. There is no doubt this drug was responsible. Six years on and I am not blind but running out of treatment options as I am now suffering reactions to treatment. Most everyday tasks are difficult for me and if I suffer further bleeds I run a high risk of losing my sight completely. Eventually I discovered that low carbing – reverting to the diet I had followed prior to diagnosis – was the only way to lower my bg levels. I do have to use medication as I can’t risk any fluctuations otherwise I could probably manage with metformin alone these days. I have learnt many things in the last six years, the hard way.
I do not understand, and never will, why the newly diagnosed cannot be given the simple advice which could save their lives, limbs, eye sight and kidneys, and why the NHS cannot be honest with patients. It is hardly rocket science. The NHS won’t recommend a low carb diet because they are unsure of the long term effects, right, why not say so? Why not just point out that many diabetics have had great success merely by reducing starchy carbs, just another option, just giving information. The NHS can’t afford test strips and meters for all. Fine, don’t give them to all. Inform them that meters and strips can be purchased and that many find them useful in discovering how different foods affect bgs. Give them support and information. Don’t understate the seriousness of the disease. Ensure the patient understands how important it is to control bg levels. Explain some of the complications and why they occur and what to look out for. Treat patients as adults. what right does anyone have to withhold this information? Naturally there will be those who won’t respond but at least they will have been given the opportunity to do so.
In order to benefit those who can’t or wont take responsibility for their own health, it is also necessary to try to spread the word to the wider public. If the charity which is thought to represent diabetics, does not do this effectively, then places like this blog or the various forums have an important role to play. They are the real voice of diabetics. Some people are fortunate enough to cope with the condition by themselves, others need help. The right help, many don’t get this. It should be universal and far from costing more would save a great deal, one day they might listen.
Meanwhile – where are my climbing boots?