5 posts tagged “weight loss”

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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American Diabetes Assocation Alert Day – Is Today Your Wake-Up Call?

Posted March 26th, 2013 by

Today, March 26, 2013, is American Diabetes Association Alert Day, so we are doing our part at PatientsLikeMe by putting out our own alert.  Are you at risk for type 2 diabetes?  Take the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Risk Test right now to find out now.

National Diabetes Alert Day 2

One in three adult Americans is estimated to have prediabetes – marked by high blood sugar levels – so don’t think it couldn’t happen to you.  Fortunately, lifestyle changes such as weight loss and increased physical activity can delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, or even prevent it altogether.

Not only will you find out your risk level by taking this free and fast test, but you’ll help raise money to fight the growing diabetes epidemic (26 million children and adults in the US).  Boar’s Head is donating $5 to the ADA for every person who takes the test between March 26th and April 9th – up to $50,000.

So take a moment and answer a few simple questions about your weight, age, family history and other potential risk factors.  You’ll be helping yourself potentially avoid a serious disease, and you’ll be helping others no matter what.  Take the test now.

National Diabetes Alert Day 1


What Do You Know About Thyroid Disease?

Posted January 11th, 2012 by

Let’s start with the basics:  do you even know where your thyroid is?

A small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck (just below the Adam’s apple), the thyroid influences the function of the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin.  That’s why it’s so important to know if you have a thyroid problem – especially if you’re a woman.  Women are five times more likely than men to suffer from hypothyroidism, which occurs when the gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone for the body to function properly.  Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain, miscarriages, forgetfulness, irregular menstrual periods and numerous other symptoms.

"I Am the Face of Thyroid Disease" Is the Theme of a Campaign Launched to Support Thyroid Awareness Month (Click Through to See Patient Videos and Stories)

January is Thyroid Awareness Month, which means it’s a good time to “check your neck.”  As many as 30 million Americans may have thyroid problems, but more than half of them remain undiagnosed.  To help combat this lack of awareness, two thyroid disease patient advocates – Mary Shomon and Katie Schwartz – have created a new campaign called “I Am the Face of Thyroid Disease.”  It features video messages and photos from around the world to “shine a spotlight on the diversity of thyroid patients and their practitioners, and help overcome the stigma and silence surrounding thyroid disease.”

This diversity can also be seen in PatientsLikeMe’s hypothyroidism community, where more than 2,200 patients (8% of whom are male) report the disease.  Some of the most commonly reported symptoms in our community include cold intolerance, dry skin and lethargy, while one of the top reported treatments is Levothyroxine (branded as Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid and more), a synthetic form of the human hormone thyroxine.  190 patients with hypothyroidism have shared in-depth treatment evaluations of Levothyroxine, detailing their experiences with effectiveness, side effects, cost and more.  These evaluations also contain a wealth of tips and advice.

Some of the Commonly Reported Treatments for Hypothyroidism at PatientsLikeMe

Here’s what one long-time Levothyroxine user writes on her evaluation:

“I have taken this for 31 years now. If you do need to take this, please pay attention how you feel. If you have symptoms such as dry skin and feeling tired all the time, it might be that you’re not getting enough of it. You might need to up the dosage.  If you have heart racing and you’re losing lots of weight, etc., it might be you’re getting too much. Don’t forget to get a yearly blood test to make sure your dosage level is correct.”

We also have a little over 100 patients (12% of whom are male) reporting hyperthyroidism, a less common form of thyroid disease that occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone.   Some of the most commonly reported symptoms include heat intolerance, excessive sweating and palpitations.  Along with those who have other forms of thyroid disease – including Hashimoto Thyroiditis – more than 8,000 members belong to the Endocrine, Metabolism and Nutrition Forum, where they can discuss their thyroid experiences with others like them.

Think you might have a thyroid problem?  Perform your own “neck check” at home (to detect any bulges or enlargement in your thyroid gland) and/or see your doctor for a thyroid evaluation today.  A simple blood test called the TSH test can tell you whether your thyroid gland is functioning normally.  If you’ve already been diagnosed, gain wisdom from connecting with thousands of others like you at PatientsLikeMe.


Get Healthy for Good: An Interview with Catie Coman of the National Psoriasis Foundation

Posted October 7th, 2011 by

Catie Coman, Director of Communications, National Psoriasis Foundation

In August, we recognized Psoriasis Awareness Month on our blog and shared some facts and figures about this autoimmune disease, which affects 7.5 million Americans. One of the statistics we shared is that psoriasis often occurs in conjunction with other serious health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, heart attack and obesity.

What these conditions share is that they can often be improved by reaching an ideal body weight. But losing weight – and maintaining it – is easier said than done. That’s why the National Psoriasis Foundation has launched the Healthy for Good campaign. Here’s what Catie Coman, Director of Communications at the National Psoriasis Foundation, tells us about this new online program.

1. What is Healthy for Good, and why should patients join in?

Healthy for Good (www.healthyforgood.org) is program designed to help people lose weight, while raising funds for a cure for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It’s unique in that is uses a public platform and the fundraising tactic of “friends asking friends” to help people reach their goals.

Forty percent of people with psoriasis have metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and abdominal obesity. By joining Healthy for Good, they’ll get tools to stay motivated, lose weight and reduce their risk factors for these associated conditions. They’ll also be able to support research to find a cure for psoriatic diseases.

2. How will Healthy for Good reduce the risk factors for these conditions?

Healthy for Good may reduce the risk factors for these other serious conditions by providing participants with a platform to lose weight safely and set achievable goals. Healthy for Good supports a weight loss goal of up to two pounds per week. Participants will make a commitment to eat right and exercise—and reduce their risk for other serious diseases while they get healthy.

3. How is this program different from other health and fitness campaigns?

First, it gives people a chance to go public. Research shows that people are far more likely to achieve a goal when they put their reputation on the line—by publicly announcing their intentions. Healthy for Good helps people be accountable by giving them a platform to broadcast their commitment.

Also, it will help people stick to their resolution by asking others to support their efforts. For every pound that someone commits to lose, they will ask loved ones to donate $1, $5, $10 or more to help the National Psoriasis Foundation find a cure for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Participants will track their progress each week, and the Healthy for Good tracker will calculate their overall progress toward their goal. In order to help people stay motivated, each person who meets their weight-loss and fundraising goals will be entered to win prizes.

4.  Is Healthy for Good only available to psoriasis patients or can anyone join?

Anyone can join Healthy for Good. People without psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can use this program to overcome weight loss obstacles and lose the pounds, while helping others at the same time. And it’s a great way for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis to get healthy, reduce their risk of other serious associated diseases and raise funds to find a cure.

PatientsLikeMe member mcotter



How’s Your HDL and LDL?

Posted September 28th, 2011 by

September is National Cholesterol Education Month, which means it’s a good time to find out your total cholesterol levels as well as your HDL (“good” cholesterol) and LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels. Have you had them checked in the last five years?

Cholesterol Levels Can Be Tested by Having Blood Work Done at Your Doctor's Office

More than 102 million Americans have a total cholesterol level at or above 200 mg/dL, which is beyond healthy levels, and more than 35 million of those individuals have levels of 240 mg/dL or higher, which puts them at high risk of heart disease. That’s a major concern given that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Fortunately, high cholesterol can be lowered with lifestyle changes – including losing weight, eating healthier, exercising and quitting smoking – as well as medication. But to start turning things around, you have to know there’s a problem. Even children and adolescents can have high cholesterol, especially if they are overweight.

Here at PatientsLikeMe, 335 patients report hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) while 235 patients report hyperlipidemia (high lipids in the blood, including cholesterol and triglycerides.) Across both conditions, some of the top reported medications include Simvastatin, Atorvastatin, Pravastatin and Rosovastatin.

If you’re unsure of your cholesterol levels, talk to your doctor at your next visit. And if you’re already aware that your levels are high, reach out to other patients like you today at PatientsLikeMe. Changing your lifestyle isn’t easy, but it’s easier when you have a community to lean on for support, answers and advice.