Don’t forget the side effects of your diabetic medications!

When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the doctor prescribed me Metformin and Glipizide. These are two of the most common of the medicines prescribed when diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

The first thing I did when I picked up my medicine was pull off the paper work and take out my pills and read how often I was supposed to take it.

Yeah, I even talked to the pharmacist who told me that I may experience some nausea at first in taking the Metformin until my body got used to it.

I did not realize that “some nausea” meant constant diarrhea, heartburn and throwing up because every time I ate if felt like my food just sat there like a rock until it came back up.

Every time I would go to the doctor he would tell me that my symptoms would lessen and some people had more problems with the medicine than others, but I would get used to it.

Two years later I was still not used to it and even though, I was constantly in the bathroom for some reason or other I still could not lose weight.

I tried everything. I even went on this diet where I ate all organic foods and pretty much went vegan for a while, but it never helped in fact it seemed anything raw I could not digest it and it would just come right back up.

One day it got so bad that I had to have a friend take me to the walk in clinic down the road because I couldn’t stop the throwing up and diarrhea.

When the nurse practitioner comes in he gives me a shot of Phenergan to stop the nausea and a prescription for it to take home and told me to drink clear liquids.

Just before he left he turns to me and says “I see you are allergic to sulfur drugs. Did you know that most people that are allergic to those are also allergic to Metformin?”

What! Are you serious? I obviously said this out loud because he said, “that may be what your problem is instead of a stomach bug going around.” He said you should go see your primary physician and see if he can put you on something else.

Go see my doctor! The one that made me fill out a book of info on mine and my family’s medical history just so he could ignore the fact that he might be giving me something that I am allergic to?  The same “doctor”—and I am using that term loosely now—that said I just keep taking the medicine and it was normal for me to be sick all the time?

No f-ing thank you. Can I have another please!?

That day was the day that I realized that if I wanted to get better I needed to take a more active role in my health and not just assume that everything that comes out of a person’s mouth that has the title of Doctor in front of it knows what they are talking about.

I went home and looked up the side effects for both of my medicines and I found that both cause gastro intestinal problems.

Surprise!

Wish I would have read that paper work that I threw away every time I got my prescription.

I made a decision that day to quit taking the Metformin which was the lesser of the two evils in my case and way of thinking.

Guess what? The constant going to the bathroom stopped two days after I stopped taking Metformin.

Now before we go any further, I am not suggesting that you do the same. I have no medical degree and cannot and will not tell you to stop taking any of your medications without seeking medical advice. It is dangerous to do what I did and it could have turned out very badly for me.

I am presently seeing another doctor, but even after this incident, it still took me going to two other doctors before I found one that I think is really paying attention and focusing on me and not how fast he could get through my appointment so he could get to the next patient.

So lessons learned from this painful learning experience are:

  • Read the paperwork that comes with your prescription. It is not just there for decoration.
  • Do some research of your own, but don’t go overboard because if you dig deep enough, everything and its brother causes cancer.
  • Listen to your body and what it is telling you.
  • Just because someone is a doctor, do not take his or her word for everything, within reason; you have a brain, use it.
  • Get a doctor that listens; it took me 4 doctors in the last few years before I found one I felt listened to me.

What to eat? What not to eat? That is the question!

After seeing myself in a full length mirror, it was too much to handle.  Way too much to go around! That’s how I felt as well.

Round!

Just looking at myself made me cry—sob hysterically was more like it—as my dog, Angel, just sat on the bathroom floor with me and stared at me like I had lost my mind.

Which I had.

Sometimes animals are so much smarter than us humans. Maybe it is because they only see life in black and white.  After the tears dried up and my head was totally stopped up and pounding, I knew I had to do something about myself.

Being an English major, I first went to the book store and online and researched all the things I should be doing until I was so confused and weighed down that I didn’t know which end was up.  And of course during all this research I didn’t once take a walk or a jog, I just did what I always did.

Sat on my butt and did nothing. But I did learn some things. Like research is good if you are doing a paper on Shakespeare, but for this so much knowledge can be paralyzing. Then you sit and do nothing.

One person would say you should eat more protein, one said not to eat a lot of protein, no fruit on one and in the same search, I found someone who said I could have all the fruit I wanted.

What the hell!?

Could we get on the same page, please people?

I tried pretty much all of them and I failed miserably, but I learned a lot about foods and what eating the right food could do for you along this journey.

I also found that I should listen to my body.  If I ate something and it did not seem to digest well or it raised my blood sugar then I would not eat it or would change what I ate with it.

For example, if you are going to eat something that is a carb, especially a fast carb that is going to break down in your body as sugar quickly, then you should eat something with protein in it like a piece of cheese or peanut butter.

It is also better to stay away from fast carbs like white breads and sugary foods and drinks for example. If you eat these with no protein—which breaks down slower and helps to keep your blood sugar from bottoming out—you will crash.

Just think of it this way—if you shoot your blood sugar up with a sugary drink or candy and then there is nothing to hold your sugar up and keep it level until the next time you eat then…

Yep. You guessed it. What goes up will come crashing down!

Trust me, you do not want to learn this by having your sugar bottom out and all of a sudden you are sick as a dog and seeing those black little dots, feeling pin pricks on your head and sweating bullets just before you pass out.

Not a fun way to learn and lesson!

But what can I say? My grandma always said I had to do everything the hard way.

I also figured out that I wasted a lot of time researching things when I could have gotten off my butt and done some exercise instead of researching what kind I needed to do. But, that is a whole other topic we’ll discuss later.

Why is it so Hard to get healthy?

Why is it so hard to get healthy when healthy looks this good?

Why is it so hard to get healthy when it looks this beautiful?
Why is it so hard to get healthy when healthy looks this good?

Why is it so hard to lose weight and eat healthy?  We all have good reasons for needing to get healthier and lose weight, but it is always hard to stick to a diet or exercise plan?  We blame many things–work, lack of time, body aches and pains, lack of money, etc.  But I believe the real reason is fear.  Fear of going to the gym and exposing ourselves to possible stares from other people, fear of not being able to stick to it, fear of not doing the exercises correctly.  Fear of putting ourselves out there for judgment.  Fear of failing.

I know I am scared to begin.  I am afraid that I will fail, or have a heart attack.  I am afraid of letting my partner down. But, that does not mean I am not going to give this my best attempt.  I know I may stumble along the way, and make mistakes, but I know that for my own sake, I HAVE to get healthier.  I HAVE to lose weight.  I HAVE to eliminate or reduce some of my current medical problems.  And, I know that the only way to do any of this is to eat better, healthier meals and get some exercise.  So with this in mind, I am hoping to share some of the healthy recipes that we find, and also some tips for buying healthier foods on a tight budget.  I have discovered that changing one or two things initially can help one feel better and get the most for their money.  Please stay tuned because in the next few days Mel and I both will be sharing those tips to get started.

My Diabetes Medication Failed Me

You know it is funny when we are always shocked when we find out that something is wrong with our health?

I mean like we couldn’t see that coming with the double cheese burgers, fries, pizza, and let’s not forget chocolate that we scarf down in less than thirty minutes before we go back to our desks to sit on our butts for another four hours. Then we go home and shove something else down our gullets while watching the latest crime show on TV sitting on the couch or laying in bed until we fall asleep—only to get back up and drag our butts out of bed to do it all over again.

Okay maybe that wasn’t your life, but it certainly was mine.

I blame the invention of the remote controlled TV because at least if I didn’t have a remote I would have to get up to change the channel.

Oh who am I kidding? Even if I didn’t have a remote I would probably just move my chair closer to the TV so I wouldn’t have to get up to change it.

The thing is, my being overweight and developing health problems didn’t happen instantly and it sure as hell is not going to change instantly!

Being of a stubborn mind, and because I grew up in a house hold that stuck by the “throw a pill at it and everything will be just fine” mantra I wanted results right away.

I know—stupid—but, I thought that was what was going to happen when the doctor prescribed me with my two new pills to control my diabetes.  They were Metformin and Glipizide by the way.

Now to give the doctor credit, he said “You need to change your diet and exercise along with taking these pills and your diabetes will stay in control.”

That whole phrase stayed in my head for about two weeks before gradually the part about changing my diet and exercising began to be forgotten and the part about taking the pills will control your diabetes stayed.

Isn’t it weird how when we are in dire need of help we seek out the attention of a medical doctor, but when the doctor says something we don’t want to hear we conveniently forget it.

That is exactly what I did for two years.  I instead of losing weight, I gained about 75lbs.

Yeah, crazy huh?

I can’t believe it now either, but at the time it was like I went into destruct mode and ate everything I could because I had this back up of little pills that I took twice a day.

Then one day it was like I had the veil lifted and I realized that I was 352lbs, had swelling feet, was exhausted all the time, and I had constant headaches.

It took really looking in a full length mirror at my mother’s house (I didn’t even own one in my own) that I came to the realization that the backup plan of the pills was not working at all.

Type 2 Diabetes Death Sentence

rip-tombstone-mdI woke up one afternoon in 2007 with a blinding headache. The kind of headache that you would happily poke a screw driver through your eyeballs if you thought that it would relieve some of the pressure.  I immediately ran to the bathroom and lost all that was left of the contents of my stomach.

The whole time that I was laying in the floor, I was negotiating with God about how if he would just let my head explode that I would be okay with that.

After all, I had lived a good life as a good person and I didn’t hate small crumb snatchers—except for the ones that scream at the top of their lungs in restaurants and threw things into your hair as you are trying to enjoy your meal.

Come on, you all know that you want to kill their parents too because after all they are the ones that are letting them do it, right?  Mainly I just want to go up and punch one of the parents in the face.

This, I guess in my delirium, was my way of making peace with my maker.

Or really just negotiating with him!

I even pointed out that I was good to the elderly and animals.

Even when the neighbor’s dog would come over and shit in front of my steps and I would step in it on my way out the door to work. I didn’t kill him.

The dog—I mean, the neighbor, well that is a whole other blog!

Anyway I digress, while I was writhing in pain on the bathroom floor it occurred to me that being a long time sufferer of what my doctor likes to call a” pre-diabetic” that maybe I should check my blood sugar.

So I crawled to get my meter which luckily I kept in the bathroom for some strange reason.

When the meter read I thought it was wrong. 328!

No f-ing way.

I prick another finger thinking that maybe that the blood from the other finger had to be wrong.  Sure enough 327!  I even tried another meter! Same results. Holy shit I was in trouble.

Normal blood sugar is 80 to 120! Mine was definitely not normal.

I called my mother who is a nurse and also a diabetic and she told me to call my doctor immediately.  Apparently my blood sugar being over 300 was a bad thing because they told me to come in right away and they would work me in—which you know means you are close to death because at most doctor’s offices you could have one of your arms falling off and they would tell you they could maybe work you in sometime next week if you are lucky.

As I am sitting in the little patient room, I am staring at these posters with the headlines like “Diabetes is a dance with death” and “Diabetes increases your risk of a stroke.”

Why the hell couldn’t I have gotten into the “you are going to die if you have cancer room” they didn’t know I could have had a tumor or something.  Either way I was glad that the doctor came in fairly quickly because I was starting to feel like I may be having a stroke. My heart was pounding making my chest hurt and I could have sworn my arm was numb.

I know when the doctor came in, he could tell by the look on my face that I was scared shitless.

He said that from the looks of my blood work, which at this point I couldn’t even remember them taking, I have graduated to a type 2 diabetic.

Graduated?! What the hell kind of way of telling someone they have type 2 diabetes is that.  I graduated? Do I get a freaking diploma? Something I could hang on the wall!

I think I might have said these comments out loud judging from his face, but I didn’t care because all I heard was blah blah blah diabetes….you are going to die.

He politely ignored my comments.

He explained that my blood sugar was too high to control with diet anymore so he was going to prescribe me some medication to help control it.  I of course was glad that he didn’t mention a medication that involved a needle, but my mind was still reeling with the thought of me being a diabetic.  I know what it can entail because I grew up with a mother that has diabetes.

I also knew that if not kept in check that the complications from type 2 diabetes could result in dire consequences. Hell even the poster said that!

I also knew that it was mostly my fault because I had been warned that if I didn’t keep up with a good diet then this would happen.

Even knowing all this I still had to ask if I could have another chance with changing my diet.  The doctor then explained that if I didn’t take the medication that I could very well die because it was too far gone now to just control it with diet.

I knew that! I just didn’t want to admit it.

I didn’t and still don’t want to be a type 2 diabetic, but it took going down this road to make me wake up and realize that you can’t take these things lightly.

I learned that you can’t just keep telling yourself it won’t happen to me because guess what? It happened to me even though I kept telling myself it wouldn’t.

The sad thing is looking back, after I calmed down all the signs were there. I had the headaches, I had to go pee all the time, and I had that iron taste you get in your mouth just to name a few.

I knew all the symptoms of diabetes because of my mother, but what did I do? I just ignored them and according to the doctor if I hadn’t taken my blood sugar and came in to see him, I could have ignored it right to the grave.

Sadly though it took more than this scare to put me on the path to good health, but that is a whole other blog post.

On a positive note though, I didn’t die as evidence of this post and the most important thing is I did not step in dog shit this morning.

It’s a good day.