14 posts tagged “diabetes type 2”

Member JoeSixPack shares his experience with diabetes

Posted January 3rd, 2017 by

Say hello to Peter (JoeSixPack), a father of three and member of the diabetes community. He was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1998 when he was 34 years old. In a recent interview, he told us about his life-long struggle with his weight, managing treatment, and how he found the motivation to lose weight and quit smoking.

Check out what he had to say about life with diabetic neuropathy and coming to terms with the realization that he’s not invincible.

Peter before and after his weightloss

Tell us a little bit about who you are. What was life like before your diagnosis? How has life changed since your diagnosis?

I am a 62-year-old male that was married to the same lady for 40 years prior to her death in September 2013.  When I married my wife I weighed in at 335 pounds.  I was an executive with a financial company for the previous 12 years and eventually Peripheral Neuropathy had gotten so bad it finally put me off work in January 2015.  I was diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic in August of 1988 and struggled with my blood sugar levels for most of my adult life.  Like most 34-year-old men, I regarded myself invincible so prior to my diagnosis. I had taken life for granted and believed that I could continue along on a path to self-destruction until I took ill for about a year. No one seemed to be able to pinpoint exactly what the problem was.

When the diabetes chose to completely reveal itself it was in the way of uncontrollable thirst, numerous bathroom trips through the night and I was unable to get enough sleep through the night in order to properly function at work the next day. I was prescribed a drug for the time called Glyburide. It was because of the success of this drug that I went right back to my old habits of poor diet, lack of exercise and I was rapidly becoming a workaholic in a very high stress occupation.

After about 4 years on the drug and gaining another 15 pounds my illness broke through again and I was referred to an Endocrinologist for further direction. He changed up my Glyburide to a new drug called Metformin, sent me off to a Dietician. I was no stranger to dieting as I had been a fat guy my entire life. I joined Weight Watchers and promptly lost 75 pounds but by the time I met my wife I had reached a new high of 335 pounds. I knew I needed to lose some weight in order to stay active with the now 3 young kids in our life so I signed on to the Liquid Protein Diet. From August 1 that year until Nov 30 I was able to shed 130 pounds. It didn’t take me long to return to old habits and within 2 years I had regained the 130 pounds and was now tipping the scales around 360 pounds.

I was never really concerned about the diabetes and I went days where I would take my meds and other days I would not never realizing the damage that my obesity was doing.  I ate with reckless abandon, smoked 3 packs of cigarettes a day, and still I was taking my medication only when I was not feeling well and not as prescribed by my doctor. The more weight I put on the more meds I would be prescribed.  I went to see my family doctor and told him I was tired of taking pills.  He told me to go away and lose 60 pounds before he would even discuss a med change with me.  I left his office determined to do 2 things that year 1. Lose weight; and 2. Quit smoking.

So on July 31, 2000 I stopped cold turkey on the cigarettes changed up my diet and began to walk every day.  First day I went out my front door and I said to myself anyone can walk around the block. A block turned into 2 then 10 then a mile then 5+ miles daily.  The weight began falling off at a rapid pace and I felt so good I took myself of all my meds. I kept walking hoping my blood pressure would eventually respond. I was now down 108 pounds but found a lot of times I would have my walk cut short because of shortness of breath. As I lost more weight I was unable to complete any of my training. In November 2002 went under the knife for a triple bypass!  From 2002 until 2006 I worked out like a mad fool.

In 2006 I was promoted to the Regional Manager of the company I worked for and began ignoring my health in favor of my job.  I stopped going to the gym and stopped all forms of exercise and once again became a workaholic. I stayed around 330 pounds from 2007 until 2015 but I knew that the diabetes had taken a toll on my feet and hands as my feet were constantly burning.

I went in for a proper diagnosis and was told I had advanced Peripheral Neuropathy and was prescribed Lyrica to try and combat the nightly pain I was now feeling.  Seems the Lyrica was okay for the pain in my feet (100 mg 3 X’s daily) but now I began to notice the neuropathy in my hands and my doctor referred to this as focal neuropathy. In July of 2013 I noticed a tiny crack on the heel of my left foot.  This rapidly turned into a diabetic foot ulcer and I looked to the PatientsLikeMe forums to see how to go about healing this.

How would you describe living with diabetic neuropathy to someone who’s never heard of it?

Living with diabetic neuropathy is somewhat perplexing in the fact when it first shows up it comes as a small tingle in the foot and toes.  As it progresses it started to resemble gout but the more I treated my feet for gout the worse the feet became.  Eventually I made an appointment with a Diabetic Foot Nurse and she was able to detect peripheral neuropathy in both large toes and both small toes and I was sent to report this to my endocrinologist.  Slowly as the neuropathy progressed the tingling in the feet began to get worse and even more so at night when I was laying in a prone position.  Now that I have had the disease for almost 5 years I have nights the tingling and pain go as high as above the knees and it has also moved into my hands.

It has also caused the muscle mass in my hands to deteriorate and it has become very noticeable as my hands are looking like those of an 80-year-old.  My doctor increased my dose at bedtime to 150 mg of Lyrica and 3 Oxycocet along with .05 to 1 mg of Clonazepam as needed for sleep.  This prescription has been working to date but somewhere along the line I have developed a loud ringing in my left ear that seems to get louder as the drugs wear off in my system. Eventually the lack of the ability to get a good night’s sleep put me off work and I have been unable to work for the past 2 years as the disease consumes your life.  Things you may have taken for granted you are no longer able to do alone any longer.  You cannot put on your own shoes nor tie them up, cannot button up your shirt or zip your coat.  Very hard to check the temperature of water so you need assistance with the shower or bath (very easy to burn yourself). A lot of daily chores you used to do you can no longer do.  And because this is a disease of the central nervous system, I have no idea what the disease is doing on the inside of me.

In the forums, you talk about the importance of good nutrition and diet. How has this helped you manage your diabetes?

Recently I have taken on a LCHF Program Lifestyle change (Low Carbs High Fat) and in the past 10 months I have lost 111 pounds following this lifestyle and it has allowed me to get off all of my Diabetes medication (20 Units 2 x’s a day of Levemir, 3,000 mg of Metformin daily, 240 mg of Diamicron Gliclazide daily and 100 mg of Januvia daily). Unfortunately, I have been unable to shake the effects and symptoms of the Neuropathy but I have my fingers crossed that I may have stopped it in its tracks.  If that is the case I may have just added a few more years to the end of my life.

You’re super active in the forums – what’s it been like connecting with others on PLM? What does it mean to you to donate your data?

I was so excited when I found the website PLM as I was finally able to connect with other people that were either suffering for the same issue. It gave me hope that someone may have found out something about the diseases I have that would maybe help me live a better life living with both Type 2 Diabetes and Peripheral Neuropathy.  One thing I never did through all this is give up. I always believed the more like-minds discussed their common issues, the better the chance someone somewhere might just stumble across something that actually works.

I feel that the LCHF Program has done wonders for me and had I found this information out about 10 years sooner I believe I would never had met the disease called Peripheral Neuropathy.  So I try to stay as active as possible on the site providing information that people might otherwise not be able to find on their own.

I currently volunteer for the Canadian Diabetes Diabetic Foot Program and they will not even allow me to tell fellow Diabetics how I lost my weight and how it has helped me. They won’t allow me to even discuss my hands in the program presentation.  They feel that since my LCHF program is such a fringe program it is not likely to work for anyone else the way it has worked for me and I am sorry but I do not agree with them. Effective Nov 18, 2017 I will be resigning from that program as I feel modern medicine does not care if we get better or not. Doctors have little concern for us being able to stop a disease like Diabetes or Neuropathy and especially using a High Fat Diet.  If I can turn just one person with Diabetes onto this way of eating and it stops their Diabetes and never develops into a secondary disease such as Peripheral Neuropathy, I will have done wonders to help my fellow PLM participants.

 

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Member Susan shares about life with type 2 diabetes

Posted December 20th, 2016 by

Meet Susan (sugarpolicewoman) from Montgomery, Alabama. She loves birds, flowers and kittens and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes over 40 years ago.

Check out her story to learn more about how she manages her condition while living in an assisted living facility.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? What are your passions?

I caught diabetes from my dad, who had diabetes, type 1.  I have type 2. I grew up in a Methodist preacher’s homes. We moved around an average of every four years, although my dad was a District Superintendent for six years once.  I had to switch schools quite a bit due to moving, therefore I never did develop close friendships, only casual acquaintances. We lived in several towns and cities in the state of South Carolina. When I was 14 years old, I caught chicken pox from my younger sister. The case was bad, probably because I had the pox later in life instead of during my younger years. When I had mumps, doctors still visited and treated sick people in the home. In front of me, my doctor told my mother I could have all the Coca-Cola I wanted. Unconsciously perhaps, that might have been the start of my diabetes.

I did not really discover diabetes until I was approximately 25 years old. Mercifully, I did not get sick during my college years. I have had my tonsils taken out, and also my spleen taken out because it was eating up my white blood vessels. I donated blood to the Red Cross one time, but that stopped when it was evident I had diabetes. I have loved books ever since they were read to me as a child, so quite naturally, I chose to be a librarian after college graduation where I majored in Library Science and minored in English. At first, I worked in a school library for one year, but working around teenagers just wasn’t for me. I worked a total of 40 years and 12 days as a federal employee in government libraries.

A favorite thing to do in junior high school and high school was reading books. One favorite time when I was a college student, I was playing softball during gym when my gym teacher had to play with us because there was not enough of us for 2 teams. I played left field, and caught her fly ball! I will never forget that! Now, during my “golden years,” I never seem to get enough time to be on my computer. I live in an assisted living facility, so the television is very welcome company! The computer is my main source for communication.

You were diagnosed over 40 years ago. Are there aspects of your condition that you still find challenging?

Diabetes can be a tricky disease. Management of my blood sugar levels has been very frustrating at times. Most the time, I know by hindsight what causes my sugar level to rise, but by then, my sugar has already risen. There is no easy way to manage blood sugar levels. You have to work hard. Other times, my sugar levels will bounce up and down like a yoyo. Once or twice, my sugar dropped low enough that I wound up in the emergency room. When the sugar level gets too low, you pass out. I was trying the wrong way to regulate my blood sugar level. The most recent challenge has been my fatigue. I feel really tired to the point that I just sit and watch television instead of doing my main daily job of putting clean clothes away. The fatigue is caused by high blood sugar. I recently discovered my dry mouth is also a symptom of high blood sugar. Thank goodness, I can solve this by drinking some cold ice water! Thinking about my husband’s declining health contributes and just adds to all the challenges.

In the forums you talk about managing your sugar in an assisted living facility where you have a restricted choice of food. Do you have any advice for others who might be in a similar situation?

The assisted living facility where I live has 24 residents in my building. There are four buildings or cottages on the campus. Meals are cooked and served to us in the dining room inside my cottage.  Meals are where the main challenge of managing my blood sugar levels becomes hard. I have very little choice of what to eat. We residents must choose if some of the foods on our plates are not diabetes friendly. Sometimes I have no choice but to eat pasta, bread, white rice or white potatoes if the menu is limited to very few items. My advice to other PatientsLikeMe members would be to do what I am trying to do. I try not to eat what I can do without. For example, if I can skip it, I avoid eating white rice or white potatoes because when these two foods get inside the body, they turn into sugar. Sugar is the diabetic’s enemy. Of course, I’d be forced to eat white rice if the cook mixes the rice with something else and creates a casserole for either lunch or dinner.

Has PatientsLikeMe has helped you manage your condition? What does it mean to you to donate your data?

When I post descriptive sentences about my condition or test results, this reminds me I must do something to improve the status of my condition. PatientsLikeMe helps me treat myself! If by donating this information about myself helps someone else, that would be wonderful!

 

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“I have been empowered to face the challenges of my condition” – Member Deb shares her journey with type 2 diabetes

Posted October 20th, 2016 by

Meet Deb (optimisticrealist), a self-described optimist who found no challenge too daunting, exercised daily and maintained a healthy diet. We recently caught up with her and she told us how her type 2 diabetes diagnosis changed the way she thought about what it meant to be healthy.

Learn more about Deb’s story and what she had to say about empowering herself through education, finding veganism and learning to live with her new normal.

Tell us a little bit about who you are. What was life like before your diagnosis?

I have always been an optimist, nicknamed Pollyanna for my focus on the bright side. I had the sincere belief that with creativity and perseverance there was no challenge that I could not surmount. If all else failed, I could reframe the situation to find the positive.

How has life changed since your diagnosis?

Having had none of the classic symptoms, my diagnosis of type 2 diabetes completely blindsided me and caused me to wonder if optimism was just another word for denial.

I was diagnosed while in the hospital and sent home with prescriptions but no instructions about how to live with my new reality. I will never forget standing at the pharmacy counter at 10 pm on the day I was discharged, exhausted and confused, getting a crash course in how to use my glucometer and lantus.

For the first weeks, I slept with the lights on as if somehow that would protect me from…what? I awoke each morning thankful for having awakened but my second thought was that there was another deer-in-the-headlights day ahead.

I couldn’t live like that, didn’t want to live if that was to be my life. I had believed myself a healthy person, exercised almost daily and had a physical job, ate no junk — yet here I was with a serious, chronic, progressive condition. I struggled with self-blame and regret and became depressed. I knew that the only course for me was to take charge of the situation, and that meant learning everything I could about diabetes management.

I spent every free moment online and I began to have hope that I could improve my condition or at least delay its progress and avoid complications. The greatest revelation was reading about veganism and diabetes. I found a registered dietician who is also a certified diabetes educator and herself a vegan. I was already vegetarian for many years so I decided to give it a try. It has changed my life, and my diabetes, for the better, in a number of ways.

Within two weeks of my last bite of animal food, I was off all insulin completely. After a lifetime of struggling with my weight, the pounds came off at the rate of about 1.5 pounds/week — effortlessly. As I approach the two-year anniversary of my diagnosis, I have had three consecutive a1c tests under 6%, test my blood glucose only once every other day, and never count a carb! I have been able to lower my blood pressure and have maintained my weight loss for over a year.

In the forums you talk about the importance of maintaining an exercise routine. What motivates you?  

I am a lifelong exerciser, but due to extreme fatigue I was unable to work out for months. After many tests to rule out other causes, my doctor was persuaded that the drug side effects were the culprit. I couldn’t wait to get back to the gym! But it has been a long and winding road to regain lost strength and endurance. I am motivated to keep at it because I know that both my blood pressure and blood sugar are dramatically improved, and I even break a sweat some days! I have not missed a day in about 6 months…some days are easier than others but my mantra is “do what you can when you can.”

In your profile you mention struggling to come to terms with your condition and the way you thought about your health. What advice can you offer others who may be going through the same thing?

My advice to others who are feeling overwhelmed by their diagnosis is education, education, education! An educated patient is an empowered patient. Learn everything you can from reliable, evidence-based sources, then teach your doctor. If your doctor is resistant to an educated, empowered patient, fire them and find a new one.

Has PatientsLikeMe has helped you manage your condition? What does it mean to you to donate your data?

PatientsLikeMe has been a tremendous resource for me in managing my condition. I have explored a number of online sites and it is by far the most comprehensive compendium of information about a wide array of conditions. I love being able to read about real patients’ REAL experiences with treatments, it is invaluable as a way of tracking my own data, and most of all, I find the forums a wonderful, welcoming, civil place to learn from and help others. PatientsLikeMe is as much a necessary part of my day as eating, sleeping and exercise!

I have been empowered to face the challenges of my condition by reading evidence-based research. Donating my data is a way of “paying it forward.”

 

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Food for thought: August (diet) edition

Posted August 12th, 2015 by

Many mothers have told their children “you are what you eat,” but some PatientsLikeMe members have taken that idea one step further and are using their diets to try and manage the symptoms of their conditions. People have been sharing about everything from gluten-free to vegan diets – check out what some people said in the conversations below:

“I truly believe, after 50+ years of fibromyalgia symptoms ranging from pain and depression to migraines, irritable bowel, and low thyroid, that the biggest help of all is to watch my diet, get in lots of fruits and vegetables, and limit sugar and alcohol. I supplement my fruits and veg intake with a whole food based supplement. This has allowed me to reduce medication to thyroid supplementation and a very occasional sumatriptan.”
-Fibromyalgia member on her “detox” diet

“My diet is greens, beans, nuts and seeds. Favorites are kale, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potatoes, black, pinto and kidney beans, lentils, black-eyed peas, cashews, almonds, peanuts and pistachios, flax and pumpkin seeds. I also have occasional sweet potatoes, apples, oranges and watermelon. Grains are consumed about once a week and are usually Farro or Quinoa.”
-Diabetes II member on his vegan diet

“With all my meds and other things I take for depression and the DBS, I can’t say that a gluten-free diet has been particularly whiz-bang helpful. However, I think it may have slowed my symptoms or made me feel better than I should.”

“I am also trying to stay as gluten-free and sugar-free as possible. It is a daunting exercise each day, but may be worth it long-term. I believe that diet plays a huge role in all disease states. All we can do each day, realistically, is take one day at a time and note any positive changes in our PD symptoms to gauge how we are benefitting.”
-Parkinson’s members on their gluten-free diets

If you missed our other Food for Thought posts, read the previous editions here.

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“Focus on making small but meaningful changes” – an interview with Amy Campbell

Posted March 25th, 2015 by

Amy Campbell is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator at Good Measures, a company that combines the expertise of dietitians with state-of-the-art technology to help people improve their eating and exercise habits. Before joining Good Measures, Amy worked for almost 20 years at Joslin Diabetes Center, an internationally recognized diabetes treatment, research and education institution.

Amy, you have an impressive background – former nutritionist at Joslin Diabetes Center and co-author of 16 Myths of a Diabetic Diet, just for starters. As a certified diabetes educator, you’re aware of the media buzz around the new cholesterol guidelines. What does this mean for people with type 2 diabetes – and those at risk for it?

Cholesterol guidelines have always been somewhat confusing. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, an expert panel that provides recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, has done their homework and really examined the evidence around dietary cholesterol. The good news is that, for the first time, the committee is really downplaying the role of dietary cholesterol. In other words, for most of the population, eating foods that contain cholesterol has little if any effect on blood cholesterol levels. This is great news!

Whether or not eating eggs affects our cholesterol levels is awfully fuzzy for many people. As both a dietitian and a health professional advisor for the Egg Nutrition Center, this probably comes up a lot. What’s the latest wisdom?

For many years, health professionals, including doctors and dietitians, advised their patients to limit or even avoid eggs due to their cholesterol content. But a number of important studies have shown that dietary cholesterol (cholesterol found in food) has little effect on blood cholesterol levels. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee have dropped their recommendation that Americans limit their intake of cholesterol from foods, such as eggs and shrimp.

The data is a little less clear in terms of how dietary cholesterol might affect people who have type 2. But again, there’s no need to cut eggs out of a diabetes eating plan. In fact, if anything, eggs are a great addition because they are carbohydrate-free, rich in protein and low in saturated fat. Eggs provide many other important nutrients, as well, such as iron and vitamin D. Plus, they’re budget-friendly nutrients, as well.

Any specific suggestions for foods to eat or avoid if you want to reduce the level of “bad” (or lousy or LDL) cholesterol?

Although there’s some controversy surrounding saturated fat and how “evil” it really is, studies do show that this type of fat, found in red meat, cheese, whole milk and butter, for example, can raise LDL cholesterol levels. However, there are foods that can lower LDL cholesterol. These include foods high in soluble fiber, such as oatmeal, oat bran, beans, apples and pears. And foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, tuna, sardines, walnuts and flax seed can lower LDL levels as well.

Type 2 diabetes seems to be one of those conditions that’s closely related to lifestyle. Along with tips on nutrition, what else do your readers want in helping to manage their diabetes?

I’ve found that people who have type 2 diabetes want simple but straightforward suggestions on what they can do to live a healthy life with diabetes. Making changes to one’s eating plan can be difficult (we form our eating habits early on!), so practical pointers around food shopping, making nutritious meals and controlling portions are always helpful.

In addition, because getting and staying physically active is so important for people with diabetes, guidelines on how to fit activity into one’s daily life (like walking on your lunch break, for example, or using a resistance band while watching TV) are invaluable. Dealing with a chronic condition day in and day out can be stressful. Finding ways to reduce stress and to take time to relax is important. Finally, information is power. I encourage people who have diabetes to check their blood sugar levels – if not every day, at least a few times per week – to get a better understanding of how their food, activity and medications affect their diabetes control.

What about sleep? Have patients indicated that the condition seems to be associated with insomnia or sleep apnea?

Sleep is a big issue when it comes to diabetes. First, poorly controlled diabetes can keep a person from getting a good night’s sleep, especially if they’re getting up frequently to use the bathroom or get something to drink. Second, having type 2 diabetes increases the risk for sleep apnea, a serious condition whereby a person stops breathing for short periods of time while sleeping. And third, complications from diabetes, such as neuropathy, can also prevent a person from getting restful sleep.

Restless leg syndrome is another condition that interferes with sleep, and this condition is more common in people who have diabetes than in people who don’t. A lack of sleep can increase the risk of heart disease, obesity and even type 2 diabetes. Sleep deprivation can also do a number on your immune system, meaning that you’re more likely to get sick. Sleep experts recommend aiming for about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.

So, if you could come up with three top bits of advice for people who live with – or want to avoid – type 2 diabetes, what would they be?

Here’s my advice: First, focus on making small but meaningful changes to your eating plan (if you need to!). You don’t need to cut out carbs or go on some stringent diet. But aim to eat plenty of “whole” foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein foods. Limit processed and fast food as much as possible.

Second, be active. If going to the gym isn’t for you, no worries. Go walking. Climb stairs. March in place when you watch television or talk on the phone. Physical activity is so important to help with blood sugar control. And third, take care of yourself. This means getting enough (but not too much) sleep, managing stress and making sure you have support from family, friends, co-workers or even an online community.

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Are you at risk for diabetes? Take the test

Posted March 24th, 2015 by

Listen up: if you’re living in the United States, there’s about a 1 in 3 chance you’ll develop diabetes over the course of your lifetime. But there are many ways you can lower your risk, which is why the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has recognized March 24 as Diabetes ALERT! Day. Today is about raising awareness for not only those living with diabetes, but those who can still make lifestyle changes to avoid developing it.

Diabetes is one of the most common health conditions in the United States – in 2012, over 29 million Americans (almost 10 percent of the U.S. population) had some form of diabetes (learn about types of diabetes here).1 It’s also estimated that in 2010, 86 million citizens aged 20 or older had prediabetes, which if left untreated, is likely to develop into type 2 diabetes in less than 10 years. Check out the infographic below for a quick snapshot of diabetes in the U.S., courtesy of the ADA and CDC.

Today, take the ADA’s type 2 diabetes risk test and share it with your friends, family and colleagues. It only takes a few minutes to answer the multiple-choice questions – you never know what you or someone else might discover from the results. And don’t forget to highlight your participation on social media through the #DiabetesAlert hashtag.

Many PatientsLikeMe members are living with diabetes – in fact, over 16,000 with type 2 and over 2,000 with type 1. If you’ve been diagnosed, join and share your experiences with the community.

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1 http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/


Food for thought: Diabetes awareness edition

Posted November 26th, 2014 by

It’s American Diabetes Awareness Month, and the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) theme for November is “America Gets Cooking to Stop Diabetes.” And in that spirit, we’re highlighting the diabetes community on PatientsLikeMe. Members have been sharing about pasta, low-carb diets and ideas for daily menus. Plus, one member graciously shared her personal recipes for some of her favorite dishes – read them in the infographics below.

What’s the diabetes community sharing about?

Usually a meal of pasta and meat sauce in moderation a couple of times a month sopped up with toasted sourdough garlic bread (1 good slice) is usually enough to satisfy one’s pasta cravings. Provided you tow the line on everything else you eat you should recover from a pasta meal within 3 hours of eating it!
-Diabetic neuropathy member

I eat no starches. That is, no bread, no chips, no rice, no pizza, no potatoes, no tortillas. I severely restrict the amount of root vegetables I eat. Occasionally, I’ll have a little bit of beans. I eat very little fruit, maybe a slice or two of tomato on a burger or an occasional strawberry.
-Diabetes type 2 member

Instead of scrambled eggs, I make tofu scramble with veggies almost every weekend. Instead of store-bought cookies, I make my own gluten-free vegan version that not a single picky eater has been able to tell the difference. Instead of regular, white, flour scones, I make vegan teff-based scones with mixed berries.
Diabetes type 1 member

 

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And don’t forget to check out our other Food for Thought posts if you missed them.


Food for thought: April edition

Posted April 15th, 2014 by

Everyone’s got a favorite dish (pizza is one of ours), and many PatientsLikeMe members share a bunch of their recipe ideas and foods in the forum. So, we’re going to start highlighting some of the hottest – or maybe the coolest, if you like gazpacho – conversations on the blog as part of a new “Food for thought” series. We’ll be featuring what people are saying in different condition communities.

So, what are people talking about this month?

Fibromyalgia forum thread: What did you make for dinner tonight?

“Leftover sage and rosemary soup, added mushrooms and scrambled egg batter. Stirred until cooked, added sea salt and pepper. Yummy!”

“Crock pot lamb shanks and salad.”

“A protein bar and yogurt – not hungry.”

Type 2 diabetes forum thread: High early morning blood glucose readings

Try having a low carb high protein snack at bedtime. This usually helps me have a lower reading in the morning. I have a really grainy piece of toast with peanut butter or cheese and it works wonders.”

“I eat my dinner at 4:30 or 5 p.m.  I also watch my carbs.  That helps me get the sugar down in the morning.

“At night for a snack and hour or so before bed I might have a piece of celery with peanut butter.

Multiple sclerosis forum thread: Different diets and reactions

“I have to say, the flavor of grass-fed beef is far superior to that of the ‘conventionally raised’ beef.”

“I have gone with the Mediterranean diet and it seems to have helped me physically. Not so much neurologically, though

Does any of that sound familiar? If you are living with fibromyalgia, diabetes type 2 or multiple sclerosis, join PatientsLikeMe and jump into a conversation in the forum, or start a new thread of your own. Sharing experiences has never tasted so good!


“I would just like to understand the ‘why’” – a conversation with PD community member dropsies

Posted April 14th, 2014 by

Right at the start of April, you might have seen us post on the blog that it’s Parkinson’s (PD) Awareness Month. And to keep Parkinson’s awareness going strong all month long, we’re sharing a recent interview with PatientsLikeMe member Betty – aka dropsies to those in the community. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s back in 2009, but was experiencing symptoms since way back in 2005. And just at the start of 2014, she was also diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Check out her interview below where she shares about her frustrating Parkinson’s diagnosis experience, how diabetes might impact her future eating habits and what she means by a family of ‘co-takers.’

Tell us about your initial diagnosis experience with Parkinson’s – on your PatientsLikeMe profile, you mention your symptoms aren’t “textbook” – what are they like?

My diagnostic tale has been long, complicated, and oftentimes frustrating, like many PWP experiences, and has yet to come to a medically-agreed upon final conclusion. I don’t care what it’s called. I would just like to understand “why” before I’m actually confined to life in a wheelchair.

After two years of thorough investigation, working with my PCP and including cardiac and rheumatology examinations, my neurologist eliminated many possibilities, with testing for lyme disease and lupus being repeated. The only confirmed diagnoses to be made were narcolepsy without cataplexy, a condition my history showed I’d had since childhood, but  escalated with menopause and restless leg syndrome (RLS).

Three years later, after aggressive treatment to control the narcolepsy and RLS, the unexplained issues continued to worsen. The increasing difficulties were with balance, loss of dexterity, freezing at step-ups, dystonia, shuffling gait, physical restlessness, exertion tremors with pronounced shortness of breath, full body muscle pain and stiffness, arms clinging to the body, and index or middle finger fidgeting the thumb, most presenting intermittently with no definitive pattern. I was referred to an MDS in May of 2009 who reviewed the battery of tests, labs, and imagery from the previous 5 years, conducted a clinical examination, waited 4 months and repeated the examination to conclude “an undefined movement disorder, prominent on the left, not rapidly progressing (therefore not of immediate concern) but probably early Parkinson’s Disease”. I was put back under the care of my primary neurologist with additional dosages of Mirapex, already being taken for RLS, and life continued on.

Within the year occasional episodes of Choreoathetosis greatly disturbed co-workers and friends, and as my lack of alertness became alarmingly severe despite an increase in Provigil, the Mirapex was reduced back to bedtime only. It was clear that treating my Parkinson’s symptoms was not going to be easy with narcolepsy. Under a new supervisor, my job duties were reviewed and adjustments made, but it was still a position that required a great deal of personal interaction, and eventually it was determined that I could no longer meet expectations. I was losing the ability to comprehend, think, and speak “in real time.” I moved back “home” and began the task of making a new and very different life.

My current PCP, who cautiously agrees it’s Parkinson’s, is very supportive and wants very much to improve my quality of life. I have been referred to two neurologists within the last 5 months, neither an MDS, but both, within the first 5 minutes of a single office visit and without my medical records, have dismissed the 2009 diagnosis with no further investigation planned, or even offered. One, who felt cog-wheel rigidity in my left wrist, said “it’s complicated,” but why no genetic testing, no PET or SPECT, and why wasn’t a trial of Sinemet given? The other said I don’t have resting tremor, he found no cog-wheel rigidity, and I show facial expression, so it can’t be Parkinson’s, so there’s no reason to try Sinemet.

It takes approximately 18 hours of continuous observation in a simulated home environment using standardized methodology to gather the data necessary to diagnose narcolepsy, so how can movement disorders, with such a wide array of possibilities and variations, be properly diagnosed in randomly performed clinical examinations generally lasting less than 45 minutes in total?

Your oldest son is now your caretaker, and you mentioned the difficulty of the role reversal, can you tell us about that?

It’s become more of a shared role between both my sons, although the youngest doesn’t live nearby.

It has taken time for all of us to adjust to the changes, and although it will be a continuing adjustment, what I thought I had lost as a mother is not lost after all. I came to realize that I still needed to hold on to being Momma. I had to see that I still have the opportunity to teach my children by example. And they had to realize they still needed me to lean on from time to time and to offer thoughts for their consideration when making decisions. Sure, some things have changed a little, but then the small stuff has always been a moving target.

Twenty-five years ago I’d stay in the car while my oldest went into the neighborhood store alone to make a purchase. Now I sit in the car while he goes into a store to make a purchase for me. So I sit in the car . . . nothing new, just different reasons. Fifteen years ago I’d tell my youngest it was a FYOS night because I had too much work to finish. Now I may tell him to help himself with whatever he can find, but I’m not feeling up to eating anything for a while. So he fixes his own supper . . . nothing new, just different reasons.

What I had to realize is that we are still what we’ve always been. We are family, co-caretakers of each other. We are learning to work together again, just as we did when they were still living at home. Only the reasons have changed.

You’re super active when it comes to filling out your health profile on PatientsLikeMe — how do the tools help you track your health, and what have you learned?

One thing that I have definitely learned is that once a symptom becomes a daily standard, I don’t necessarily notice or remember it unless it was severe or continuous that day. I may have a single incidence of freezing early in the day and if I don’t fall from it, or have a great deal of difficulty breaking loose from it, I completely forget about it by the time I do my symptom update.

I’m certainly learning there’s no predictability! I keep thinking that I’ll see some kind of pattern, but nothing has appeared as yet. I can have symptoms causing me great difficulty for weeks at a time and suddenly disappear for months before being noticed in the slightest again. And others are always with me, but other than the obvious, such as loss of coordination and falls, and stress effects, there’s no pattern or connection, even in the level of severity.

You’ve recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. How has another diagnosis impacted your Parkinson’s and day-to-day life? 

So far it’s been a blessing. I put on a great deal of weight since I began this journey, and with little pleasures left to be enjoyed and apathy holding my focus to the simple pleasure of food, I needed a wake-up call! If I’m ever prescribed Sinemet or any Levodopa, I know I’ll have to reevaluate my eating plan to compensate for the protein conflict, but for now I’m trying to stay focused on controlling my diabetes and losing as much weight as I safely can.

It’s probably a first, but I was disappointed that I did not experience the most common side effect of my diabetic medication, Metformin. Both the doctor and the pharmacist gave stern warning that it causes severe diarrhea in the first few weeks. With the constant battle of constipation PWP endure, I was looking forward to it, but it never happened! No change in that situation at all.

Finally, April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. You mentioned fitting into a world that ‘doesn’t know’ what it’s like. What would you like to teach people about Parkinson’s?

The most important thing from my perspective would be that Parkinson’s is not fully visible! Besides the mental and emotional changes caused by the altered state of brain neurotransmitters, there are other non-motor symptoms caused by Parkinson’s. Even tremors are not always “visible.”

One of my earliest and continuing issues is Akathisia, better known as internal tremor and restlessness. There are times that if what I feel could be seen, it would look as if I was holding a live electrical wire. I’ve day-dreamed of a torture rack and how wonderful it would feel to be stretched until it stopped. Thankfully, this level of severity is rare for me. It’s more subtle most of the time. It’s a feeling that doesn’t allow me to sit or stand still. Regardless of the fatigue and pain that builds, sitting to rest is worse. The only thing that brings any relief is to keep moving. If I stop in one place I rock. If I must sit I fidget until I can’t take it anymore and I get up and start pacing, stretching, moving! If it’s confined to just the arms, wrapping in a massaging chair pad can ease it in time, but usually it’s full body and the only solution is to keep moving until it settles, often taking hours!

Akathisia is a little-studied, sporadic symptom in about 26% of PWP, and is only one symptom of Parkinson’s that is visible, although it leads to very visible attempts to get relief. Some of the other non-motor function symptoms PWP often face are constipation, bladder incontinence, difficulty swallowing, gum and dental deterioration, excessive sweating, intolerance to heat and cold, daytime sleepiness, pain, vision issues, loss of taste and smell, memory loss, difficulty with word recall, and apathy. Parkinson’s Disease does not stop with making slow, stooped, stiff, shaky people…it’s so much more!

Betty Bland

a.k.a. “dropsies”


Patients as Partners: The WHYSTOP Scale questionnaire results

Posted April 4th, 2014 by

We’re really excited to launch a new series here on the blog called Patients as Partners. The series will highlight the results and feedback that PatientsLikeMe members give on questionnaires from our Open Research Exchange (ORE) platform.

What’s ORE all about again? PatientsLikeMe’s ORE platform gives patients the chance to not only check an answer box, but also share their feedback on each question in a researcher’s health measure. They can tell our research partners what makes sense, what doesn’t, and how relevant the overall tool is to their condition. It’s all about collaborating with patients as partners to create the most effective tools for measuring disease.

So to kick the series off, we have results from the WHYSTOP Scale, which measures how diabetes can impact appetite and how people decide when they’re done with a meal. Back in September, we launched this as one of the first-ever questionnaires on ORE with our research partner William Polonsky, Ph.D., CDE, from the Behavioral Diabetes Institute and University of California, San Diego. More than 700 type 2 diabetes community members added their voices, and all of the answers and feedback shaped and influenced the health measure to make it the best possible. (Shout out and thank you to all those that participated!) Check out the WHYSTOP survey results and keep an eye out for more ORE questionnaire results coming up as we continue our Patients as Partners series.

 

 

 


Are you at risk? American Diabetes Association Alert Day

Posted March 25th, 2014 by

 

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), over 25 million people are living with type 2 diabetes in the United States, and 7 million aren’t even aware they have the condition. What’s more, 79 million people have prediabetes, a condition that can include several symptoms of diabetes.1

Do you know if you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes? Today is American Diabetes Association Alert Day, and it’s all about learning and recognizing risk factors. Take the ADA’s online diabetes risk test to learn if you’re at high risk – it’s fast, free and easy. The ADA’s official fact sheet is also full of useful information about diabetes and today’s activities, including Step Out walks and Alert Day Center education events. Visit the ADA’s website to find an event in your area.

Living with type 2 diabetes can involve many lifestyle changes, so if you’ve been diagnosed, are living with prediabetes or are at high risk, visit the PatientsLikeMe type 2 diabetes community to check in with your fellow patients and learn how they manage their condition. You can post questions in the forum and get answers from others living with diabetes, check treatment reports to see what people are taking to manage it, and track your own symptoms to get a better understanding of your own health.


1http://main.diabetes.org/dorg/alert-day/alert-day-2014-fact-sheet.pdf

 


The Open Research Exchange- A talk with pilot researcher William Polonsky, Ph.D., CDE

Posted September 14th, 2013 by

You’ve probably seen some recent posts about PatientsLikeMe’s new Open Research Exchange. Medical researchers will be using our ORE website to pilot, deploy, share and validate new ways to measure diseases. And PatientsLikeMe members will have an opportunity to give feedback on their work, putting them – the patients – at the center of new medical research.

We wanted to take a quick second to introduce our blog followers to ORE pilot researcher Dr. William Polonsky and share his recent podcast interview with everyone. One of the first clinical health psychologists in the U.S., William has dedicated his career to helping patients with diabetes, conducting research to examine the disease’s critical psychological factors, and lecturing and training healthcare professionals so they can help patients help themselves. The scale he wants to develop on ORE is what he calls the WHY STOP scale. It’s an attempt to understand if you’re eating a meal, how do you decide you’re done?

round-portrait-wpolonsky-f6b0fbe9ef8b3cfe227e44084fb01bbf

Most important, William wants to know how new diabetes medications seem to affect people’s satiety, or how full they feel when they eat. On ORE, William aims to create the first instrument to understand when and how these medications affect people, and how other patients can make better use of them.

We’ll be sending out invites next week, so if you’re living with type 2 diabetes and want to add your voice to William’s research, just create a PatientsLikeMe profile. Already a member? That’s great! Just be sure to sign into your profile this weekend and we’ll send an invite along.


Living with diabetes: An interview with Dr. Richard A. Jackson

Posted June 18th, 2013 by

For many, living with diabetes can be an overwhelming experience that comes with serious health concerns including heart attack, stroke, kidney complications and eye problems. However, Dr. Richard Jackson thinks there is another reason diabetes patients may feel overwhelmed… the medical establishment. “A typical diabetes education program series might tell you 150 things, but that might be 148 things too many.”

Jackson

Dr. Jackson is Director of Medical Affairs, Healthcare Services, a Senior Physician and the former Director of the Hood Center for the Prevention of Childhood Diabetes at The Joslin Diabetes Center. He is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He has been studying diabetes for over 30 years, led the first National Institutes of Health clinical trial to study diabetes prevention, and works to find the most effective ways to get the best information out to the patients themselves.[1] National Diabetes Alert Day was not too long ago, and Dr. Jackson took some time to share his thoughts. Here’s just a snapshot of some of the questions he answered. Click below to hear the entire interview.

      1. Why are more people developing diabetes?
      2. What can I do to help someone I know with diabetes?
      3. Why is diabetes so overwhelming and what can be done about that?

 

If you’re living with type 1 diabetes, or type 2 diabetes, find others just like you in our growing communities on PatientsLikeMe. Learn what others are doing to manage their condition with symptom and treatment reports, and share your own experience with a personal health profile or in the community forums.

 


[1] http://www.joslin.org/diabetes-research/richard_a_jackson.html


Be of Good Heart Today

Posted September 29th, 2011 by

Today, September 29th, is World Heart Day. Sponsored by the World Heart Federation, this annual event was started in 2000 to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke, the world’s leading cause of death with more than 17.1 million lives lost each year. All around the globe, activities such as talks, screenings, walks, concerts and sporting events have been organized for today.

World Heart Day 2011

One of the main goals of World Heart Day is to educate the public about the fact that at least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided. All it takes is controlling the three main risk factors: tobacco use, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity. Beyond those, another related risk factor is high cholesterol, which was the subject of yesterday’s blog post.

Here at PatientsLikeMe, a number of patients report cardiovascular conditions as well as conditions that put them at high risk for heart disease or stroke. They include:

If you’ve been diagnosed with one of these conditions, join our growing community and connect with patients like you today. Have a loved one who’s at risk? Educate yourself about the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke. According to the World Heart Federation, over 70 percent of all cardiac and breathing emergencies occur in the home when a family member is present and available to help a victim.