Mastering diabetes with my doctor and dietitian
My name is Imran, and I’m a 46-year-old businessman. I’m also a type 1 diabetic.
I was diagnosed in 2018. At the time, I weighed 90kg. I was lazy and didn’t exercise, I enjoyed eating out, and my work meant I spent most of my time sitting, not moving.
This lifestyle caused me to gain weight and develop insulin resistance. It also cost me a lot of money later on.
My diabetes diagnosis began with frequent urination, dizziness, hunger and thirst. These are common symptoms of diabetes, but I ignored the warning signs and went about my business.
However, as these symptoms got worse and worse, it reached the point I couldn’t ignore them anymore and decided to see my doctor. My doctor examined me and advised me to get my blood sugar and urine tested.
My urine contained high levels of glucose. My blood sugar was also high, about 250 mg/dl (it should be less than 140).
Seeing these results, my doctor recommended I do an HbA1c test. My results were 7.0%, confirming I was diabetic – Non-diabetic results are less than 5.7%.
Having confirmed I was a diabetic, my doctor recommended I check my blood sugar level twice a day – At the time, they believed I may have had type 2 diabetes.
The 1st year after my diabetes diagnosis wasn’t easy. I was tired all the time, and the disease made any work difficult.
One of my biggest challenges was changing my diet and getting active. I bought a blood glucose meter to measure my blood glucose levels in the morning and evening.
My doctor recommended I have regular check-ups every 15 days. After monitoring my condition, my doctor identified that I had type 1 diabetes and would need to take insulin. They showed me how to take injections and encouraged me to take care of myself. I needed to take insulin injections twice a day.
I also had to keep a notebook to log my blood sugar levels and carry a first aid kit.
If I didn’t eat enough sugar I would be exhausted and shivering.
If I ate too much I felt restless and thirsty.
I found it very hard to get the balance right.
Struggling to get my diet right, I visited a dietitian. She helped me prepare a food guide and taught me how to count my carbs. Following my monthly plans from her, I was able to cut high-sugar food from my diet and keep my blood glucose levels stable.
As time passed, my health improved, and I felt fitter than ever.
To reduce the amount of sugar in my diet, I removed all sweet meals (such as candies, loaves, glaze creams, sweet products and drinks). I also started eating whole-grain chapattis (made from corn and porridge). I kept a notebook and recorded everything I ate, and focused on eating at home (not out at restaurants).
When I dined out I avoided simple carbs, proteins and fatty dressings. And I drank plain water.
Importantly, I also never missed my insulin injections.
These steps were very difficult in the beginning, but they completely changed my life. My expert dietitian was a huge support throughout the entire process.
In the past, I was lazy and didn’t exercise. Even when I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I still didn’t exercise. However, with the encouragement of my doctor, I finally started exercising.
I remember the first time; I ran for 10 minutes and nearly passed out.
That gave me the motivation to keep trying and improve my health.
I kept exercising. Now I run for 30 minutes every morning before work, and over the last 4 years I lost 20kg.
I now have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that measures my blood glucose level every 5 minutes and sends the results to my phone. This has given me far more information than random finger pricks did and has helped me further adjust my lifestyle and manage my diabetes.
I also take a lot of diabetes medication and visit a diabetes coach. She’s taught me a lot about managing my diabetes at work.
I’ve learned to face my illness and not let type 1 diabetes run my life. And I’ve learned to actively look after my health and not lose hope if things don’t always go according to plan.
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