Personal Experiences Leading to My Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis
Last updated: September 2022
Despite my mother being diagnosed several years prior to her passing, 2 of my aunts being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and my eventual diabetes diagnosis, I knew absolutely nothing about type 2 diabetes for a long time. I was unaware of the many signs and symptoms of diabetes that I experienced leading up to my diagnosis.
A surprise type 2 diabetes diagnosis
I'm a long-time career over-the-road trucker, and I found out that I had type 2 diabetes when I failed my regular physical for my CDL license. The physical exam showed that my blood sugar was too high. I was denied another medical certificate until I could lower my blood sugar enough to be within US federal guidelines.
I was on my own to learn about type 2 diabetes: my mom passed away due to lung cancer, and my dad had already passed years before that.
Looking back on diabetes signs and symptoms
Now that I had been diagnosed, I reflected on the year leading up to my diagnosis. I realized that I experienced subtle signs of diabetes. I blew these off and assumed it was just because I was getting older or not getting enough sleep. Had I educated myself on diabetes beforehand, I probably could have made lifestyle changes sooner to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
The most notable symptom I experienced was constant fatigue, no matter how many energy drinks I drank. But I still ignored it.
Another sign of diabetes was extreme thirst. After eating, I would get so thirsty that I'd drink an entire 32-ounce bottle of Gatorade in less than 60 seconds. After that, I'd still feel thirsty.
People with type 2 diabetes may experience frequent urination. That wasn't an issue for me. However, as truckers, we sometimes pick up or deliver loads to places where they won't allow the truckers to use the bathroom. So it's common for truckers to keep empty bottles to urinate in situations like this.
Reader discretion is advised here on this next part. When the times arose when I had to use an empty bottle, I noticed that my urine would leave a residue on the walls of the bottle, looking like it was loaded with sugar. It's gross, I know, but that's the unglamorous life of a trucker.
Lastly, my feet started feeling more numb by the day. At the point of my diagnosis, I had almost no feeling in my feet. On the inside edge of my feet just above the arch, my feet were red and inflamed. Nerve damage is another potential complication or sign of type 2 diabetes.
Managing symptoms after diagnosis
After diagnosis, I made immediate changes after doing lots of research and consulting a doctor. I bought my own glucose test kit and blood pressure monitor before the doctor even prescribed me one. I was officially diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
While reading and learning about type 2 diabetes, I was scared to death and made many lifestyle changes. I reduced portion sizes and stopped drinking beverages with added sugars. I started taking baby steps to get more exercise by walking for 15 to 45 minutes after eating meals. The symptoms I had leading up to diagnosis started to improve.
Rediscovering a love of fitness
I started using a shake weight, very light dumbbells and doing sit-ups and push-ups on my knees. When I started, I was able to do 2 sit-ups after not being active for years since getting out of the Army. But I lost 10 pounds the first week.
After losing some weight and feeling better, I rediscovered my love for fitness like my younger pre-trucking years. These days I bench press over 300 pounds as push-ups aren't enough for me unless I do many repetitions. The 2 sit-ups I could do then are a far cry from these days of doing 3 sets of 20 sit-ups on a decline bench with weight plates in my hands.
I have increased my endurance slowly over time to manage up to 10 miles on an elliptical or 20 to 30 miles on my mountain bike. I attributed many of these lifestyle changes to why I have maintained a normal A1c for 6 years straight.
Everyone with type 2 diabetes is different
Remember that everyone with type 2 diabetes will have a different experience. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa. Always consult your healthcare professionals before starting, stopping, or changing your physical activities or diet.
It's my goal to be on here as an advocate to inspire others to manage their diabetes and feel healthy. If this helps just one person, I'm super happy that it helped!
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