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years ago, when his doctor told him he had type 2 diabetes, Andy wasn't
surprised or even that worried. His blood sugar had been creeping up for the
past few years. His doctor had even warned him to make some changes—to lose
some weight and get more active. But he felt okay. If he was sick, he couldn't
"I just couldn't take it seriously," Andy says. "Even after
I found out I had it, diabetes just didn't seem that big of a deal. I didn't
think it was something I had to worry about."
But he admits that
it did nag at him a little bit. So when the doctor's office called to remind
him to take a diabetes education class, he finally signed up. At the class, he
heard about the kinds of foot and nerve problems that can happen if blood sugar
As a grocery manager, Andy is on his feet all
day. He also likes to bowl and play basketball with his buddies. He started
thinking about what he would do if he couldn't walk, work, or play.
He decided it was time to do something about managing his diabetes. Andy
asked his doctor for help.
"It finally just hit me how serious
this disease is," he says. "I couldn't keep ignoring it."
worked with a diabetes educator to create a plan for healthy meals and snacks
that he could make himself, instead of bringing home some fried chicken or macaroni and
cheese from the store deli. He learned how to count carbs. But he
struggled to get his blood sugar under control.
"I tried to eat
better, but my levels just didn't come down. It's hard, because everyone who
has diabetes is different. You just have to find out what works for you, and
stay with it."
Test, don't guess
He started using his blood sugar tests to learn more about how his body
was using the food he ate. Writing everything in a food log also helped.
"Probably the biggest thing I've learned is to test, don't guess," Andy
says. "That's something my doctor told me, and it's really true. You can't know
what your numbers are unless you test."
He tests in the morning
before breakfast and again before lunch. He also checks his blood sugar a few
hours after lunch and before he goes to bed.
was a big step, Andy says. "I knew I needed to get a routine. But testing is a
hassle. The strips are expensive. And I just didn't like doing it," he says.
One testing tip he learned from a nurse is to prick the side of
his finger, instead of the tip.
"That way, you're not always
poking at the same spot and making it sore," he says.
Focus on feet
About 6 months ago, Andy found that
if he took a short walk after lunch and dinner, his numbers got better. He
looks forward to his walks at work and around his home neighborhood.
The walks give him a chance to work out some of the stress of his job.
And they remind him how much he cares about his feet.
feet has become part of Andy's daily routine. He looks for sores, cuts,
scrapes, or cracks on his feet and between his toes. It's hard for him to bend
over, so he uses a mirror to look underneath each foot.
even thought about my feet before. They're so far away," he says. "But your
feet are too important not to take care of."
Andy says his life
has changed a lot since he found out he has diabetes. But he still struggles
"I'm doing so much better than I was 2 years ago," he
says. "I eat better, I take walks, and I feel pretty good. I talk to other
people I know who have diabetes. But I have to remember that what works for
them may not work for me. Diabetes is different for everybody."
This story is based on information gathered from many people living with type 2 diabetes.
For more information,
see the topic:
July 16, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
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