Living with type 1 diabetes

Living with type 1 diabetes

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, it didn’t come as much of a surprise as I had kind of expected it. I am obese, quite obese! This reason was enough for me to develop this disease. But, though I was mentally prepared that one day I would get a disorder like diabetes, or hypertension; when it actually happened, I was startled! I knew, now, I could no longer postpone my resolutions to lose weight and adopt healthy habits. Well… with diabetes entering my life, I've got to change my way of living; including my diet, lazy routine, and so on. Here’s how an average day passes since the day I came to know I suffer from type 1 diabetes.

Waking up in the morning

I experience a kind of strange, tingling sensation in my fingers and toes upon getting up in the morning. I always thought it to be because of keeping my hands and feet still during sleep. But now, I know it is because of diabetes. I am told this disease can cause damage to the nerves due to which there can be tingling and numbness in the arms and legs.

My doctor has prescribed me vitamin B supplements. The sensation has reduced a lot after I started using these medicines. However, I still have to move my fingers and toes slightly after getting up to relieve the feeling of numbness before I can get up from the bed.

Starting the day

Living and dealing wih type 1 diabetes is not easy. I have made it a habit to take a look at my nails and toes every morning. In fact, I came to know I had diabetes when I had a severe fungal infection under my nail. I used to get severe throbbing pain under the nails. The fingers were swollen due to which I couldn’t move them properly. When I approached the doctor, he advised me to do some blood tests.

The reports revealed I suffered from type 1 diabetes and the nail infection was a complication of it. My doctor has advised me to check the nails and soles of the feet every day to detect any slightest injury or infection. This will help me to seek an early medical treatment before the infection flares up. It is important to check for these signs and symptoms on a regular basis because the nerve damage caused due to diabetes will not let me feel the pain and hence, the injury or infection will stay unnoticed and continue to worsen.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

My diet has undergone a drastic change. I have cut down on almost all foods containing carbohydrates, including fruits. I was really scared of getting another complication! Actually, from the day I was diagnosed with diabetes, I stopped eating everything that had the slightest tinge of sweetness. However, this approach seemed to backfire because I developed severe hypoglycemia or low blood sugar level twice.

Since then, my doctor has advised me to avoid only simple carbohydrates like the ones in cakes, pastries, chocolates, etc. I can have one or two portions of fruits every day as they contain starch, a form of complex carbohydrates. The reason is starch takes time to be digested by the body; so it doesn’t cause a spike in the blood sugar levels.

Going to work and taking medications

Since I suffer from type 1 diabetes, I have to take insulin injections to avoid the symptoms of the disease. This condition occurs because the pancreas does not produce enough of this hormone. If you have type 2 diabetes, you can control it by using oral medications.

But, for type 1 diabetes, there is no such cure. I have to take insulin injections daily: before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But the problem is insulin vial has to be stored in a refrigerator. Hence, I had to ask for permission from my employer to allow me to keep a bottle of my medication in the refrigerator of our office.

Prevention of complications

Diabetes is a silent killer! I had heard this several times in the past; but I am experiencing it myself now. It is indeed a silent killer. That is why, I have to take a lot of precautions to keep this disease in control. I have not just switched to a healthier diet, but also started exercising regularly. It’s not as if I never knew exercising is important for my health, especially to lose weight. But, I always came up with some lame excuse to avoid doing it. But now, the fear of complications of diabetes is so high that it has forced me to stop giving excuses and take action in the right direction to stay healthy.

What are the daily limitations and what are the fears?

Diabetes has put brakes to my fast-paced, hectic life. It has become important for me to pause and think twice before taking any step. I don’t just nod my head happily when invited for an outing, or late night parties. It is hard to avoid the temptation to take a bite of cake, or pastry and avoid sugary beverages when you are in a company of your friends.

It makes me feel sad when everyone is enjoying their drinks and meal while I have to satisfy myself with the taste bud-unfriendly foods. So, since I started living with diabetes I try to avoid such parties. I do attend them once in a while, especially if the host is a close friend or relative; otherwise, I might just go into depression. I agree that too many restrictions are not good for my emotional health. So, I take it easy and think well before deciding whether or not to accept the invitations I receive.

What would be my life with type 1 diabetes in the future?

I suppose I have finally come to accept my sympthoms and health problem. I was quite depressed and scared initially because I thought this disease would change my life for the worse. But, now, I can say confidently that it is not as bad as I had thought. Though diabetes is a silent killer, it will do no harm to your health if you take proper precautions. I take my medications regularly, follow a strict diet, and exercises regularly.

I have managed to keep my blood sugar levels in control over the past 6 years. I do falter sometimes; but I make sure things are back on track at the earliest because I am aware of the complications this disease can cause. It can cause damage to the nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. I do not want to suffer from thecomplications like diabetic neuropathy, cataract, retinopathy, heart attacks, and diabetic nephropathy. So, keeping a control on my lifestyle and dietary habits is a must! I have accepted this and I think every diabetic should!

What are the risk factors?

Obesity is the biggest risk factor for diabetes. My weight gain over several years of my younger days is what caused me to develop this condition. Luckily, I never smoked or was addicted to alcohol. These unhealthy habits could have made my condition worse. Another factor that might have worked against me is my family history. My father suffers from type 1 diabetes too. Genetic plays a huge role in your risk of developing type 1 diabetes and this is why; I might have developed it at a much younger age.

The evolution of diabetes

The best and worst part about diabetes is its progress depends entirely on you. On the positive note; if you take proper care, it will not cause any complications and let you live a happy life without any complications. But, if you are careless towards your health and do not take your medications regularly, or follow the dietary advice; it can accelerate the damage to the healthy tissues and increase your risk of complications by several folds. Living well whan you are suffer from type 1 diabetes could be difficult. I know my life is in my hands. I can decide my fate; whether I will develop any complications or get to live a long and healthy life!

That is why; I never give a miss to my newly adopted healthy habits. What are the psychological effects when you have diabetes? I have to compromise a lot on my diet. I love to eat cakes, chocolates, etc. But, I can’t. This is a bit disheartening. I feel depressed sometimes. “Why me?”, this question hounds me a lot. But, perhaps it is the result of my own unhealthy habits and I know, I have to live with it. I try to take it in an optimistic way and think that diabetes has given me a chance to make healthy changes in my life. At least, my healthy habits will help me to reduce my risk of other diseases like heart attacks, and hypertension.

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.

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