A Day in the Life with Type 2 Diabetes
My day with type 2 diabetes looks like many other people’s day, at least on the surface. Unlike someone who uses insulin, I don’t have many tasks during my day that make it obvious that I have diabetes. That left me wondering what I would write about to show the world what living with type 2 diabetes is like. This post contains a lot of my thoughts; what’s going on in my head as I make my way through my day. I hope that I’m able to show how living with type 2 diabetes is anything but easy.
I wake up. This is a good thing! I swallow my thyroid pill before I even put on my slippers. Shuffle to the bathroom and wash my hands. Shuffle to my office where I check my fasting glucose. 142. Darn. Shuffle to the coffee pot for my first cup of the day. (Note: Thyroid medication is supposed to be taken on an empty stomach and you’re supposed to wait an hour before eating. I negotiated with my doctor to allow coffee first thing in the morning. My thyroid levels are fine and the world is a safer place when I’ve had my coffee. Also, less shuffling from now on.)
Breakfast. “What was my fasting number again? 142. I sure wish I could figure out how to bring those morning numbers down. Now, what to eat that won’t make that number worse.” My food plan is one that contains very little processed foods, including breads. I have learned over the years that my blood glucose doesn’t stay happy if I eat bread, cereal, pasta, potatoes and most fruit. Before my diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, my breakfasts often included cereal and toast. Hash browns were a treat. I rarely eat those things now so breakfast is often eggs of some variety, and turkey sausage along with my oral medication. I also make muffins and pancakes using almond flour. This makes a very dense product but it works for me and I stay full for quite a long time. Snacking rarely happens in the morning.
Lunch. Today I’m having lunch with a friend at a local restaurant. I’m not concerned because there are several options available to me at this restaurant; ones that shouldn’t upset my blood glucose. I’ll sometimes have an omelet, without toast and substitute tomatoes or cottage cheese for the potatoes. I might order a sandwich and eat it with a knife and fork, avoiding the bread. No worries. But today I’m tempted. Today I keep thinking about that sandwich made with my beloved sourdough bread; the one they toast on the grill. “To heck with “being good”. Today I want that sandwich. I’m constantly told that I can eat anything in moderation so why not? Today I just want to feel normal and eat what I want.” I SO want the French fries too but I order a side salad instead. I’m feeling pretty smug about this and enjoy the time with my friend. Later, however, the smugness turns to guilt, shame and sadness. I have no idea what my blood glucose was before I ate, but it’s 195 two hours after my meal… and I’m hungry. I drink multiple glasses of water while walking on the treadmill. You see, I have discovered that if I consume processed carbs I end up wanting more for the rest of the day. Even if those carbs don’t wreck my blood glucose right off the bat, they set me up for snack attacks for the rest of the day. I should know better, but I’m human.
Mid-afternoon until dinner. Another pill. “I want some chips! Do we have any cookies? I guess I could have some veggies, but they just don’t sound good. I want salt. I want sweet. I want nearly anything that isn’t good for me right now.” Sometimes I manage to fight off the cravings, and sometimes I don’t, but I nearly always have this war going on in my head. It’s hard to think about anything else. The smart move is to check my blood glucose and choose a low carb snack.
Dinner. Baked chicken, steamed broccoli and a small glass of red wine along with my oral medication: one of my favorite dinners. I’m usually not hungry in the evenings (which may or may not have something to do with whether or not I snacked during the afternoon). A meal like this will satisfy me for the rest of the evening.
Evening snack attack. I know, I just said that my dinner would satisfy me for the rest of the evening but that has nothing to do with cravings. I think about my low carb ice cream. It calls to me. Nuts are a good choice, but I always mindlessly eat too many. Tonight, I settle on a mug of hot, decaf green tea and shun the rest. That feels pretty good.
As I get ready for bed I think, “I didn’t snack tonight. Maybe I’ll wake up with a number in the 120s instead of the 140s. Maybe, if I’m lucky. Regardless, I’m going to try to have better willpower tomorrow.”
As a person with type 2 diabetes, food is always on my mind: what I should eat, what I shouldn’t eat, what I want to eat, what I ate that makes me feel guilty. You may not be able to tell that I have type 2 diabetes unless you see me check my blood glucose or pop a pill. I may look just like anyone else, but I’m someone who has to make daily/hourly decisions about what I eat and how much I exercise. Those decisions will affect my health far down the road. Decisions that most people take for granted.