In the US, more than 34 million people are diabetic and it’s been a little over a year since I was diagnosed with type 1. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about my condition and what it means for my day-to-day.
One thing that has become clear is that there are three areas in which I need more support: understanding my blood sugar levels, learning to cook for myself, and finding ways to exercise without putting too much stress on my body. These are the reasons I decided to become a patient advocate and help others living with type 1 diabetes.
Understanding Blood Sugar Levels
The first thing I realized about living with type 1 diabetes is that it’s a lot harder for me to know what, when, and how much I need to eat than someone without diabetes. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn the difference between hunger pangs and other forms of discomfort.
Lots of people don’t realize that blood sugar levels change throughout the day based on many different factors other than food.
There are times during the day when my blood sugar may be very high even though I haven’t eaten in hours, or it could fall quickly if I miss a meal. My body also has trouble knowing exactly when I’ve had too much insulin to recover from low blood sugars, which can be dangerous if they’re not treated.
That’s why I’ve decided to be a patient advocate and help others living with type 1 diabetes better understand their blood sugar levels. I want to do this by sharing everything I know and learning from other people so we can prevent dangerous highs and lows, and share relevant articles and information about healthy eating practices and things like exercise that can affect our blood sugar levels.
Learning to Cook for Myself
One of the biggest changes since my diagnosis is how often I eat. Since I’m trying to give my body what it needs through food instead of injections or an insulin pump, everything that goes into my mouth has to count. This means planning for mealtimes, which has been even more challenging than adjusting my routine to fit in all those shots and checking my blood sugar levels.
Now that I’m cooking for myself, I need to make sure everything I put together has the right amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. This means researching what ingredients work best with each other, reading nutrition labels on the foods at the grocery store, and experimenting with different recipes.
I’ve started looking up what healthy choices are available at restaurants near me so I have options when eating out. Knowing how to cook also takes away some of my stress because I can see exactly what’s going into every meal. Learning how to do it well is just another way for me to better understand my body.
Exercising With My Condition
Since beginning my new treatment plan, I’ve started doing more activities to increase my physical activity level. Both with and without diabetes, exercise is a major component of living a healthy lifestyle.
For me, it’s been important to find ways to remain physically active while also taking care of myself. This is why I’m trying very hard not to push myself too hard when exercising because I need to make sure my body can recover easily from any high blood sugars.
I’m finding that by listening carefully to what my body needs, like drinking plenty of water before and after working out, eating properly beforehand, and resting if something hurts, I can stay active without putting too much strain on myself. That said, sometimes it isn’t always possible for me to do certain activities.
For example, I still suffer from some muscle weakness in my arms and legs that can make it difficult to carry or lift things or play sports for more than a short time without tiring out.
I know that using an insulin pump makes me feel better on days where I may not feel up to playing with friends on the basketball court, but if it’s already been a few hours since my last meal, at least one of those shots may go straight to my stomach instead of lowering my blood sugar first. This means the extra exercise could cause hypoglycemia afterward. I’m trying hard to be sensible about how much activity I take on because there are just some situations where staying active isn’t possible for me.
Educating Myself About Diabetes
Diabetes can affect the way you go about your day. Once I started treating myself with food instead of insulin, it became clear just how much my routine in my Katy clinic would have to change to accommodate everything.
Before being diagnosed, I often wondered what having type 1 diabetes would be like. But nothing could have prepared me for the challenge of getting used to this new lifestyle.
I’m still learning about how not only food affects my body but also things like stress, fatigue, and illness can influence my blood sugar levels. Figuring out which factors are helping or hurting me has been one of the biggest challenges since my diagnosis because there are so many little things that can swing my sugar levels every day.
Walking around with high blood sugars has become a part of my life as an osteopathic doctor Katy, so I try to get used to it by facing the problem head-on. By understanding why exactly things are happening, even when I’m feeling tired or sick, I can remind myself that there’s more going on in my body than just some numbers on a screen. And while it may seem like an uphill battle sometimes, this is another way that taking control of my disease helps me better understand who I am and what the future holds.
I’ve found that having type 1 diabetes means carrying around too much responsibility at times. But because of all these challenges, finding ways to be healthy has become more important to me than ever before. I want to stay healthy enough to help my younger brothers grow up big and strong, never knowing what it’s like to be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
I hope my story as a primary care doctor in Katy TX has helped you understand the unmet needs of patients with type 1 diabetes and why it is so important to have general practitioners and family doctors who are trained in Osteopathic Medicine. If you or someone close to you suffers from type 1 diabetes, please find an osteopathic doctor like myself who will take your concerns seriously and provide primary care that meets all of your health needs. Thank you for reading!