Most people remember very little about the day they were diagnosed, beyond their doctor telling them “you have diabetes.” Everything that was said after that disappears into an odd fog, like the “wah-wha-wah-wha” of adult voices in Peanuts TV specials.
Probably your doctor told you a great deal. But all you heard was your inner voice: Diabetes? I can’t possibility have diabetes!
Maybe you had the misfortune to meet with a nurse, health, or diabetes educator that first day. Or worse yet, a dietitian. If so, you were bombarded with more information than you could possibly absorb. You were probably given pamphlets that were either so dumbed down you couldn’t learn a thing, or were so biased toward a particular medication that it made you ill.
You were probably given a blood glucose meter. Maybe you were taught how to use it, maybe you weren’t. Maybe you were but that voice in your head saying Diabetes? I can’t possibility have diabetes! was so loud you couldn’t hear the instructions.
If you went online when you got home, you probably scared the hell out of yourself.
You probably just went to bed that first day, hoping you’d wake up and it would all be a bad dream. Well, it was a bad dream—but you were awake and this was your new life.
Of course you pulled yourself together. You began to learn what you needed to know. You learned how to test your blood sugar, how to take your medications, what food and drink your body liked and what it did not. You probably even started to exercise. You took control because you were scared.
Then time passed. Little by little you began to slip back into your old comfort zone, the way you had always lived your life. Bit by bit, like a thief in the night, your diabetes began to creep up on you. It is an insidious disease. It is chronic: meaning permanent. It never goes away. It is progressive: meaning that every day you live it gets a little worse. And if that were not enough, your body adapts to your medications. Little by little they lose their effectiveness. And to top it all off, the symptoms of diabetes damage really don’t show up until it is too late. Once you feel it, the damage is done.
Today you woke up and realized you’d lost control.
It is time. You are ready. Roll up your sleeves. You are ready to take back your diabetes. You are a born again diabetic, and the purpose of this book is to remind you of the things you forgot, update you on things that have changed, and teach you the things you never learned.
Section 1—Refresher, the Disease and the Risks
Chapter 1—So what the hell is diabetes anyway?
This chapter covers the kinds of diabetes and the causes of diabetes. Together, we’ll talk about Type-1, Type-1.5, Type-2, and Type-3, plus pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes. The chapter explains how each kind happens, who gets each kind, and how the various kinds of diabetes differ from each other and what they have in common. We’ll also cover some interesting trivia. This chapter puts you into context in our larger “tribe.”
Chapter 2—Complications from uncontrolled diabetes
This chapter walks you through all the scary things that can happen to you if you let your diabetes get the upper hand. It covers damage to your blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart. I’ll tell you how high blood sugar can cause all of this damage; and how many people it happens to. We’ll also talk about amputations. And death.
Section 2—Fighting Back: the power in your hands
Chapter 3—The meter
This chapter covers the Power and Purpose of meters; those humble little boxes for checking your blood sugar that can make or break your diabetes control.
We’ll talk about how they work and how to use them; and how often you should use yours. It covers what the numbers mean and what to do with those numbers.
We’re also going to touch on high and low blood sugar, some important tips, and how to carry your meter. It wraps up by reviewing key numbers and key
management strategies and then we’ll peek into the future-that-is-now by telling you all about Continuous Glucose Monitors.
Section 3—More about Blood, the Body, and Everything
Chapter 4—the HbA1c test and why it matters
This chapter covers the blood test that your doctor uses to judge your overall diabetes control. What is it? How does it work? Where should my numbers be? Why the hell does it matter, anyway? When you finish reading this chapter you’ll have the answers to all those questions and more!
Chapter 5—Food and blood
Can you eat that? This chapter dives into the deep end of the food pool. How do various foods affect our blood sugar and why? What can you eat, what can’t you eat? We’ll talk about “carbs” and how and when to make lasting changes to your diet.
Chapter 6—Everything else and blood
This chapter looks at how just about everything in the universe can affect our blood sugar from the chaos of everyday existence to exercise, pain, depression, and illness.
Chapter 7—Why less is more
Well, at some point every book about diabetes needs to talk about weight and obesity, right? This chapter looks at why it matters, how the pounds come on and how to take them off again.
Chapter 8—Beyond blood
Well, there is a lot more to diabetes than blood sugar. We need to worry about the pressure of our sweet-or-not-so-sweet blood. We also need to worry about some mysterious fats that float around in our blood called lipids. I’ll also touch on a little gland in your neck that you may or may not even know you had—it often runs amuck in us D-folk. We’ll do breakfast, or at least learn why we should. We’ll also take a look at our eyes and our feet.
Section 4—The Meds
Chapter 9—Doctors, medications, and you
In this chapter we open up the medicine cabinet and start to look at all of our options to help control our blood sugars. It also covers why it is important to understand your medicines yourself and not to rely too heavily on your doctor.
Chapter 10—Oral diabetes medications
This chapter focuses on pills. There are a ton of pills, but we’ll break them down into broad categories for you. It looks at each pill’s method of action, how to take them, and any side effects you need to look out for.
Chapter 11—Injectable diabetes medications
Beyond pills are liquid medications that need to be injected. This chapter digs into these meds. We’ll look at the method of action and side effects. The chapter also covers the various ways to deliver these meds into your body.
Chapter 12—Non-diabetes meds diabetics need
Of course you knew life wouldn’t be as simple as just taking care of your blood sugar. There are a whole range of body systems at risk when you are diabetic. Many of these can be protected with yet more medications. From Aspirin to Zetia we’ll cover them here. OK, we aren’t really going to talk about Zetia, I just liked that whole A-to-Z thing….
Section 5—The Real World
Chapter 13—Sex drugs and rock and roll
In this chapter we get to talk about sex, or at least how diabetes can affect it. It also looks at other “vices” such as drugs that didn’t come
from your doctor, drinking, and smoking. It covers the cost of diabetes and stress. And we’ll talk about your family and how they affect your diabetes.
It wraps up with how the real world will collide with our best efforts to control our diabetes, and what to do about it.
Section 6—Ready, Set, Go!
Chapter 14—Time to cross the finish line
You and I will wrap everything up with the importance of not going it alone. You need support, and what better kind than from your own kind? I’ll tell you where and how to find a support group. We’ll also cover what to do when you fail and we’ll take a look back at everything we’ve covered on our journey together.