Why Do I Have Diabetes?

In my last blog post, I shared my type 2 diabetes diagnosis that I learned while having a diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) attack in an ambulance. DKA is usually something that only occurs in type 1 diabetics, but can happen to type 2 diabetics in extreme cases or during an illness.

The first 6 weeks after my hospital stay were very emotional for me. I felt guilty, angry, sad, and frustrated. Apparently, I went through a standard grievance process. I spent many hours researching and contemplating “what went wrong?”  I wanted to be knowledgeable and completely honest with myself about what caused my diabetes.

The day Libby stopped going to the gym – Nov 2016

First, how did I end up in the emergency room?  I think that began two months before when I slipped on a sidewalk and hurt both my arms. I rarely left my hotel room after that. I had virtually no exercise and my food and drink choices were full of sugar, rather than following my usual healthy whole food plant-based diet.  I was getting quite unhealthy.

Then I caught the flu, which means my body was making extra glucose. This was the big trigger for my DKA attack. However, in order for it to get to this life-threatening stage, I likely  had undiagnosed diabetes for many months.

I believe the following issues are the causes of my type 2 diabetes:

Libby out of shape – Dec 2016
  • My belly fat. By medical standards, my 5’8″ 150 pound body was considered “healthy,” but I certainly needed to lose weight. Throughout my adult life, my weight shifted up and down within a 25-pound range. 3 years ago I was at my highest, but I started a whole food plant-based diet and lost 50 pounds. I continued to follow this healthy lifestyle in general, but I made a number of exceptions for the sake of travelling and living in hotels.  I gained back some of the weight I lost, and my belly came back to visit.  In medical terms,  visceral fat was stored around my internal organs, including my liver and  pancreas, which promoted insulin resistance. (See Diabetes as a Disease of Fat Toxicity for more information.)
  • My sedentary lifestyle. I sat in a chair most of the day and did not typically have much daily physical activity, especially in the most recent months before the attack.
  • I’m over 40, and diabetes runs in my family. Whether it’s truly in the genes, or that I have similar eating patterns as my type 2 diabetic mother, I seemed to be at risk.
  • I did not get medical check-ups. I avoided going to a doctor for many years, and I never had my blood tested for pre-diabetes.
  • Poor food and drink choices. This one goes hand-in-hand with the extra belly fat. Especially In the previous few months before my diagnosis, I was consuming too much alcohol (mostly rum) and eating quite poorly (processed salty, sugary snacks including trans fats). Major carb abuse. I swore to myself that I would give it all up in the new year!
Libby drank a lot of rum from the Carribbean, Central America, and South America

I look at these causes as lessons learned. The silver lining is that my condition provides the ultimate motivation that I need to get and stay healthy. My next steps are clearly:

  • Eat healthy. Lose weight and give myself the nutrition to maximize my health and body functions.
  • Exercise more. Lose weight, get strong, and improve my cardiovascular health.
  • Control my blood sugar levels. Through trial-and-error and use of my glucose meter, determine exactly how food and exercise affect my blood sugar so that I can optimize my health plan for long-term non-diabetic blood sugar levels.

These days my blood sugar levels are excellent and stable. I take daily walks, and I work out at my hotel gym 5 days/week. I even bought a Fitbit to help motivate me and keep track of my heartbeat and my calories out. I’m also eating super healthy again.  I spent 2 hours with a nutritionist last week and learned so much! I’m tracking everything I eat, so I can share all of my information later. I currently take oral medicine (Glipizide and Metformin), but I hope to wean off of them soon.

Libby tree and Sheraton hotel
Libby Back in Super Healthy Mode! March 11, 2017

 

For the past few weeks, I have stayed in hotels with kitchens. It was great to be able to make my own meals. However, I’ve found that I can eat very healthy in a standard hotel too.  I’ll be writing more about the topic of healthy eating in hotels. I still haven’t made any decisions about whether I’ll be continuing the hotel lifestyle or “settling down” somewhere with a kitchen. I’ll share more soon!

What do you think?  Am I being realistic enough? Do you agree or disagree with my causes?

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Your writing style makes me enjoy reading what you write. You share your personal thoughts and experiences in a positive way and that pulls the reader right in!
    I am proud of you and the way you look at and live your life.
    Thank you for making my awesome son so happy.
    My Love Always,
    Mom Whitehawk

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Truly fantastic progress!

    Liked by 1 person

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