After rereading yesterdays blog, I realize I was really on my soap box yesterday...sorry.
It didn't take me nearly as log to adapt to pumping as I thought it might. I had to struggle for a while trying to find a decent infusion site, but eventually found a rotation that worked for me. It also took a while before I learned to trust the pump to do it's job, which it really does very well. Because I am very active at work, walking for several hours a day, I had to develop a routine that worked for me. Once I was able to establish a basal baseline for just being lazy around the house, I had to establish a second basal baseline for work days. By testing all the time, I was able to make quick adjustments with the pump that were much more difficult with injections. I always carry glucose tablets with me and have experimented over the years with all kinds of snacks to help keep my blood sugars stable while I have to be paying attention to work. I am on a time clock and under heavy pressure every day to get my job done in under 8 hours. On very busy days, I sometimes have to make fast adjustments or work extra long days. It has often been a challenge. I have seen many comments already here at TuDiabetes from diabetic athletes. Before I was diagnosed with T1, I loved to play soccer at least twice a week. After wards, I still tried to play for a while but always found that my blood sugars would going haywire no matter how I tried to adjust, so I stopped playing. That was before I started pumping. I have been wanting to try again now that I have things under better control and know a little more about how to handle my diabetes, but one thing and another has stopped me. I am 60 now but still think about going out again every so often. Perhaps when I have the time to read some of the posts here, it will give me some insights that help me to get back out on the field again.
One problem that has developed that makes me hesitate was associated with the neuropathic problems. When I was still struggling with those issues, I was ready to leave for work one morning just at dawn after a night of intense thunder storms. I live way out in the woods. My driveway is a dirt road about 3/10 of a mile long. There were two big trees down across my driveway. So I went back to the house, called work to tell them I would be late and pulled out my chainsaw. Well about 45 minutes later I had the driveway clear and was on my way to work. That evening when I got back home, the muscles in my arms and shoulders were very sore. Ok, no problem, I had exercised harder than usual and I figured I might be sore for a few days. Over the next days and weeks, it was not getting any better. If anything the pain was becoming more intense to the point where if I just bumped my elbow while working, the pain was so excruciating that I thought I might pass out. I didn't know what to think. Was I developing severe arthritis on top of diabetes? I didn't understand why I was having so much pain and inflammation in my muscles and nerves. Pain in my feet, pain in my shoulders, especially my left where I had dislocated it once when I was much younger, constant pain. I decided that I could not live with this, so again I started researching everything I could find.
There are so many different approaches being taken towards diabetes all around the world. In all these studies there are tantalizing hints about the nature, treatment and possible cure of this disease. Most are not available for us to try right now, but some make more sense than others. I have always had a great deal of faith in our bodies. They are such incredible temples with the ability to take so much abuse from us and still recover. Obviously, if we have diabetes, then something has gone terribly out of balance with this beautifully tuned system. I have faith that given half a chance, our bodies can heal almost anything. So where had I gone so very wrong? Well, I think diet is the first thing. As Edgar Cayce said, "We are what we eat." So I started trying to understand our bodies and diabetes in relation to what we eat. I had been counting carbs since I started taking insulin, and though that had helped, it was obviously not enough. I started moving towards a low carb diet. This helped me have less fluctuations in blood glucose readings. I came across some information about trials being done on something called benfotiamine that was helping people with neuropathic problems. It turned out that benfotiamine is an oil soluble b-vitamin that when taken regularly can build up to therapeutic levels in our bodies. Most b-vitamins are water soluble and flush through our systems every day, so have to be constantly replenished. B vitamins come to us most easily from eating meat, and since I had been a vegetarian for many years, my body was low on essential b-vitamins. It also turns out that benfotiamine has been around for a long time and is out of patent and is very inexpensive to manufacture, so no pharmaceutical company can get rich marketing it. You won't see ads on television telling you about benfotiamine and how it can help relieve neuropathic pain in diabetics, alcoholics, etc. but it does. I decided it was worth a try, so I got some and started using it. In a few months time, my neuropathic pain began to dissipate. But that was only one piece of the puzzle that helped a little.
I started changing my diet. I added meat back in. And since I had to limit carbs, what carbs I could have needed to come from healthy sources, like fresh green vegetables, not grains, cereals or breads. Avacados are great. Nuts have a good balance of carbs to protein, so plenty of nuts. Weight has also become a problem for me. Since the time I started taking insulin when I was 10 to 20 pounds under weight, I have started gaining weight. Before long, for the first time in my life, my weight moved above 175 and just kept going. I now fluctuate between 215 and 225 and have been struggling to drop some extra weight with little long term success, but again good control blood glucose control seems to be the key to the problem. Since having diabetes, I had discovered how many different ways in which our bodies can be hungry. Most people only know what it is to hungry when they haven't eaten in some time. They have dinner and all is well. With a diabetic, it is never quite that simple. You might have a full stomach, but if your blood sugar is low, you are going to feel ravenous in a particularly different kind of way. Or, if you have not taken enough insulin, especially over a long period of time, then you will feel like you are starving no matter how much you eat, which is exactly what is happening. Over three months before I was diagnosed, I lost 20 pounds while eating constantly, never able to slake my hunger. Even with decent control of my blood sugars, there are always highs and lows. When my blood sugar gets too high, I feel hungry and by will power alone have to resist eating while I try to bring my readings down. When my blood sugar is too low, sometimes I can manage by cutting back my basal rate for a bit, but usually, I have to eat something whether I am hungry or not, whether I have just had a huge meal or not, so I end up over eating. I know I am not alone in struggling with these issues as a diabetic. I had a close friend who killed himself because in the end, he couldn't stop himself from going blind. So a diet that helps me keep my readings on a more even keel is one key to managing my diabetes.
I also realized that if I had something like b-vitamins out of balance in my body, then there could be other issues that were aggravating my condition. I realized what I needed was a full body medical scanner like Scotty has in his sick bay on board the Enterprise. I had been getting all those executive panels from my family physician on each visit but obviously, there were things being missed. Yeah, I knew my cholesterol was out of balance a little, that was why my endo put me on lipitor, tricor and lisinopril, but I felt that those things were symptoms of a body that was already out of wack, not the causes. Once again, these were patented drugs that treated symptoms without addressing the root causes. There is a repetitive pattern here in our systems of treatments of disease. So once again, I went off the grid, found an alternative doctor who practiced what he calls integrative medicine to help me discover any underlying imbalances in my body that might be closer to the source of my problems. Of course, the insurance companies don't want to cover this kind of medical practice, at least not yet, though I think some of them are starting to see the light. In the long run, it will cost much more to treat a chronically ill person until they die than it will to keep them as healthy as possible for as long as possible or even, perish the thought, cure them altogether. We live in a very schizophrenic society, just like a body whose immune system attacks itself. What is out of wack inside us is only a reflection of what is wrong with our society as a whole. (oops there I go, starting to preach again......time for a break.)