Diabetes: A Warning and Info You May Not Know

  1. Yes, there is an element of my personal story, but please, before you hold up the TMI hand cause the head ain't listening, please listen to what I have to say.

    If you are not getting regular checks of your blood sugar, please do so. If your biological heritage includes genetic material indigenous to Africa or the Americas, you have a genetic predisposition to this disease, even if you eat a healthy diet and excercise every day.

    And by indigenous to the Americas, I mean all of the Americas. This would include an overwhelming majority of Latin Americans, as well as people whose ancestors lived on lands now known as the United States.

    Everyone, regardless of DNA, should be checked every year. Those with a genetic predisposition, people with African and/or indigenous American heritage, should be checked up to every 3 months.

    Work is still going on, but there have been some studies done indicating that up to 80% of some indigenous American subgroups whose lands are near the border of what is now called the US, and what is now called Mexico, will develop the disease.

    Diabetes can be an insidious sneaky thing, there are frequently no symptoms, and when symptoms appear, they are likely to be symptoms of a complication. And the complications of diabetes are not something you would wish on your worst enemy, and certainly not something you want to sit down and play Russian Roulette with.

    Nobody can say how long I had the disease, before the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy drove me to the doctor. Not all people who have this particular complication have symptoms, as someone who does, I would have to say it is a toss-up, since without symptoms the damage continues to progress. With symptoms, well, you can google. Actually you can just google diabetes complications, the one I have is just one. There is a wide selection, and they are all pretty horrific. Suffice it to say that I take a lot of medications and those medications do impact my ability to do all the things I used to, and so do the symptoms themselves, to an extent.

    So much for the TMI, but please, get yourself tested, and if you do not know for sure whether you have a genetic predisposition, assume that you do, and that your children, if any, also do, and have them tested as well.

    Depending on your health care situation, you may have to push for this. I know that in my case, I was not routinely tested, even though I had reached the age where they start to worry more about your blood pressure, etc. Well, my blood pressure has always been exemplary, but even in those yearly "checkups" permitted by the HMO, they never tested me.

    And in my ignorance, I did not know that I should insist that they do it. Or go to a health fair in the park and have them do it.

    So I will repeat it. If you are not being tested REGULARLY and without fail, for diabetes, please do whatever you need to do to correct that.

    That is all, thank you. :smile:
  2. Thanks for posting that Shimma as November is Diabetes Awareness Month. I am assuming by your post that you have Type II Diabetes. How long have you had the symptoms prior to being diagnosed and how far along has your neuropathy progressed?.

    The Neuropathy is what scares me, I don't have any symptoms yet.
    I have type 1 diabetes and insulin dependent. My Endocronologist was telling me that the newest thing out for Type II is Byetta Inj. have you been offered this?
  3. Oh amamxr, I am so sorry that you have it too!

    According to my shamans, um doctors, they are transitioning away from the Type 2 and Type 1 terms in favor of the more accurate and informative "insulin dependent" or "non-insulin dependent." Non-insulin dependent as in dependent on something else. :smile: In my case, something else consists of Metformin and Avandia, taken orally. I am VERY fortunate that Mr Puff's employment provides an HMO, however the HMO does not feel that Byetta would be profitable for them. Actually none of it is profitable for them, but they will pay most of the cost for Metformin and Avandia.

    Eventually, however, like almost every diabetic, I will have to make the transition to insulin, which is actually better for the insurance companies, since it is cheaper.

    Aside from beginning to exercise, since I sincerely believed that was the cause of the occasional burning sensation I would feel in my feet - not unlike what you feel sometimes after a hard day of being on your feet all day - I did absolutely nothing sensible about the symptoms, continuing to tell myself it was due to sedentary lifestyle and failure to walk enough, exercise, then failure to exercise enough, vitamin deficiency, etc etc, ascribing the symptoms to any and everything possible - except diabetes. Maybe because of the pills, I can't say for sure when the constant burning sensation began to be enhanced, or if isolated instances of the enhancements came first.

    What I do remember is the first time I felt it I thought that a tiny coal of incense, or from my cigarette, had fallen onto my foot, or been blown there by the fan, and now smoldered on the cushions on which I sat, in my robe, and I hurled myself, cushions and robe about, frantically looking for the culprit. I was in full Fire Prevention Mode. I did not understand how there could be no red mark on my foot from that awful burn...

    By the time I finally broke down and went to the doctor, I did so because the symptoms had escalated to the point that I could no longer function with them, much less ignore them. Nearly a year had passed since their onset, and my life had become so subsumed into them that some details of the progression had become a blur.

    Of course as soon as I described what I was experiencing, the first thing they did was check my blood sugar, and since that time the dual goals have been to stabilize my blood glucose level and control the symptoms, which are no longer limited to burning alone. Of course the long term goal is to keep the blood sugar stable enough for long enough to actually reduce, or even eliminate the symptoms. For some people this happens fairly quickly. Others take longer, and in some cases, it does not happen.

    When nerves are damaged, they send messages to the brain exactly as they would if some very unpleasant things were happening.

    As the nerves become more damaged and die, real sensation is lost, but ironically the ones from the brain continue. This means that the person might step on a piece of glass and not feel it, but even when nothing at all is even touching their feet, they feel as if the feet are in buckets of lit cigars, pounded with hammers, pierced with needles, frozen with ice.

    Circulation is compromised, and this is the reason that diabetics, especially those with peripheral neuropathy, which about half will develop to some degree, must take great pains to protect our feet from even the tiniest injury.

    When untreated, as in my case, the nerve damage also begins in the hands, as do the symptoms. Not all people with peripheral neuropathy will have symptoms at all, which sounds good to me! Until I consider the implications of that - even more nerve damage occurring with no sign that it is happening until it is too late.

    Your information is probably better than mine, I tend to be a bit foggy, as you will have noticed :smile: but I believe that about 60% of diabetics will experience some degree of neuropathy, however less than half of those will experience any symptoms of it, and of those who do experience symptoms, over half will be able to control the "discomfort" with over the counter medications.

    A few months ago, there was a multi-part article in the New York Times that discussed some of the impact of diabetes on the medical treatment and insurance industries. I imagine it has been reprinted by at least one other entity, so it should be googlable, for those interested.

    Please forgive the TMI, I am torn by not wishing to be overly graphic or descriptive regarding the symptoms, but at the same time, if I can scare the **** out of somebody who maybe just feels a little burning, or even somebody who feels nothing like that but is just not being tested regularly, I do not mind making an unpleasant post.
  4. Definitely not TMI--we all need more awareness on this subject. My brother-in-law has type II diabetes. To look at him, he doesn't fit the stereotype at all: he's thin, eats properly, is active, etc. His first symptoms were worsening vision (that scares me sh**less) and extreme fatigue.

    Best wishes to you both. Thank you for valuable information.
  5. A good friend of mine has diabetes, and from what I know about it, it's rough. Thanks for spreading the awareness!
  6. Unfortunately, sometimes we learn from others misfortunes. I wish you the best and hope the meds are helping.

    Thank you for the info - you can NEVER be too informed!
  7. Thanks, Megs! And thanks to all applicable deities, the current bushel basket of pills I take throughout the day keeps me comfortable, if somewhat um, foggy :smile: and of course I continue to hope that however gradually, the progression will slow enough to vanquish, or at least crank things down to over the counter level :smile:

    And I hope that any and everyone who reads this, including you and your family, will get your blood sugar checked.

    One of the more chilling statistics from that multi-part NYT piece I mentioned, of Latin American children born in the last 5 years, one in two will be diagnosed with diabetes at some point in their lives.

    That's not a typo, that's 1 in 2. 50%. And as the question continues to be studied, and more statistics about more populations become available, we can expect to hear some more chilling numbers.

    The epidemic has not only the capacity, but the veritable certainty, of collapsing the health care industry in the US within our lifetimes.

    And while there is a genetic predisposition that is likely, even certain, to kick in at some point and run the show, there is also a culture of extremely high levels of sugar consumption, from birth, and this cultural trait does not play nicely with that genetic predisposition.

    I would strongly encourage parents to just start taking a look at those little boxes on food packages, the ones that give the content of this and that substance. Note the sugar content of popular items like juice-flavored fruit drinks, breakfast cereals, even the white sponge bread so beloved by generations of American kids.
  8. I'm so sorry to hear about this SP. :sad: It must be awful for you.

    But thank you, so much, for bringing it to all of our attentions.

    BTW, if this is you 'foggy', then you must be amazingly intelligent. :flowers:
  9. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes on my 5th month of pregnancy. I thought the diet would help me control my sugar levels. It was mortifying when I was told I had to prick myself with insulin Humulin and Humulog(sps?) 4 times to control it. I remember crying because the first try was so painful.... I learned to just deal with it and prayed that it would be gone when I give birth. Luckily, I no longer have diabetes but I was warned by my endocrinologist that I have a greater risk of having diabetes later in life.
  10. LOL chloehandbags, some would call it amazingly verbose. ;) And I would call you amazingly sweet, with a pretty impressive set of brain cells yourself!

    Miss MAGs, be sure you get yourself checked every 3 months or so. And if the worst happens, today the thing you use to stick yourself, and/or inject insulin, is this little pen doodleding that you adjust depending on how thick your skin is, and it really does not hurt at all. It is nothing like that mini-battleaxe they will use in the doctor's office. In fact, when I go to the doctor, I make them stick me using my own doodleding, sometimes they will just tell me to go ahead and stick myself. It is not even a stick. You put it next to your finger (you can do it anywhere, in theory, but your finger will be more accurate) and push a button, a teeny tiny little needle thing goes in just enough to get a drop of blood. I do it to the little kids in the family, and it doesn't hurt them. They actually think it is fun!

    I am still taking pills, but the people who do insulin with the "pen" say it doesn't hurt either, and that it is waaay better than the old days when they had to inject themselves with a regular "shot needle!"
  11. I had used the pen. It was the coolest thing!!! Of course it was scary at first. There were times when I felt nothing and then those dreaded times when I was sticking myself and it just stung soo bad :censor: My husband never liked seeing me do it.
  12. Another thread in a different department here - and just the briefest kiss of autumn in the breeze - ;)reminded me that I had been meaning for a while to bump this up, for the benefit of those who haven't seen it, and remind all who are starting new school years, whether you are 6 or 106, to please take a second and get your blood sugar checked.

    Especially if you have an HMO, they may or may not do this routinely as part of the regular wellness check. Ask, and if they say they don't, politely insist that they do.

    And just in case there is anyone reading this who has noticed a burning, tingling, or "pins and needles" sensation in your feet, see a doctor immediately. And by immediately I mean as soon as the office opens.

    If you do not, that sensation will escalate. Which it may do anyway. But give yourself the best chance you can.

    And if you just scrolled through the first post because it is long, scroll back up and read it all.
  13. Thanks for this Shimma. My father suffers from diabetes too - non insulin dependent, but takes a myriad of pills. You are strong and corageous for dealing with what you do.
  14. Oh man... this is a great reminder... diabetes runs in my family, my dad is on all sorts of pills & lost vision in one eye bc of complications with his diabetes.... & my best friend was diagnosed in the last couple years.... I haven't had a check up in at least two years, so I should get on it... i'm overweight, so that doesn't help either....

    scary stuff!
  15. what does peripheral neuropathy mean???