In May 2016, my husband was diagnosed with Latent autoimmune diabetes of adults or “LADA”. It was pretty shocking, as he didn’t fit the typical stereotype for Diabetes. Luckily, he was proactive and sought medical treatment when he wasn’t feeling well. He was fortunate he caught it early. At his initial doctor’s appointment, his glucose was at 324 and his pancreas wasn’t producing insulin.
He received a diagnosis on a Friday and was started on insulin the following Monday. It was more of an uneasy time for me more so than Andy, I think. I usually am able to take control of situations and in this one I had to sit back and let him manage it.
Perhaps you are reading this as a newly diagnosed or long time diabetic looking to take control. Either way, I hope this resonates with you. If you have any questions, please feel free to post in the comments section below.
I hope you find his story as inspiring as I do!
Interview Date: 1/3/2017
Me: You received the diagnosis of Late Onset Adult Diabetes in May, 2016, correct?
Andy : Yes, I went to the doctor in May 2016 and found out the next day after some test results came in. According to my doctor, I had “full blown diabetes”.
Me: What were you symptoms leading up to your diagnosis?
Andy: There were a few things that just seemed “off” with the way I was feeling. Probably the most telling was that I was extremely thirsty every evening. I was also urinating frequently during the middle of the night, but I attributed that to both getting older and the fact that I was drinking so much water in the evenings. Another is that I had lost about 10 pounds recently.
Me: You “look” pretty healthy and it would have been easy to ignore the symptoms you were having. What caused you to finally seek medical attention?
Andy: Like I mentioned, the weight gain and frequent urination didn’t really stand out to me at the time as red flags. I just figured that was part of “getting older”. I knew something wasn’t right when I was so thirsty in the evenings though. That was a warning sign that caused me to take action and schedule a doctor’s appointment.
Me: It must have been pretty shocking for you and your family when you were diagnosed. How did you feel after receiving the call from the doctor with the news?
Andy: Yes, definitely. I have always been in pretty good shape and fairly thin so diabetes wasn’t something that had crossed my mind. I also have no known family history of the disease. When I got the call from my doctor, I wasn’t too shocked. Like most of us do these days, I had Googled the warning signs and got a lot of results about diabetes. It didn’t seem to make much sense to me at the time how I could have diabetes.
Me: Describe your nutrition and activity habits before your LADA diagnosis. How did these change after your diagnosis?
Andy: My nutrition habits and activity level were both “fairly” good before my diagnosis. I was getting back into exercising more frequently and just completed a half marathon. I was a pretty healthy eater, too, but did have a bit of a sweet tooth. I always liked to have that evening snack after the kids were in bed while I was watching tv.
Me: What was the treatment for you, initially, after the diagnosis?
Andy: My doctor told me to not eat any carbs or anything with sugar, initially, until he could get me started on medicine. My blood glucose levels were over 300 (standard levels are below 100) so this was my diet initially. In terms of medicine, I immediately started taking insulin injections to bring down my blood glucose levels. He also wanted me to check my sugar levels twice a day. Although it may sound bad to give yourself shots in the stomach and pricking your finger each day, it really wasn’t a big deal and I quickly got used to it.
Me: I know that you were very proactive in taking control of the disease. What were some of the best resources that you would recommend to others to help them take control as well?
Andy: There are a number of diabetes websites, blogs and forums online that provide information, advice and support. I don’t recommend any one in particular but would suggest doing some Google searches and checking out the top results. In addition, there are resources out there for how to control your diabetes while staying active. Finally, there are a few diabetes magazine that you subscribe to pretty cheaply so check out some of those.
Me: What medications and/or insulin do you currently take to treat your LADA?
Andy: After being on insulin for a few months, I was able to steadily decrease the amount I was injecting each day due to my blood glucose levels being in normal range. After getting my next A1C results and reviewing my blood glucose logs, my next doctor’s suggested that I could switch to an oral medicine because i was doing so well. He prescribed Metformin which i had an adverse reaction to. I called him the next day and he prescribed Januvia instead. After taking Januvia for a few months, my doctor decided to try taking me off medications all together.
Me: How do you stay committed to keep your blood glucose levels under control?
Andy: I consider myself lucky that I was able to get off of all medications. This has baffled my doctor somewhat who now suspects that a virus attacking my pancreas was the cause of my diagnosis. Watching what I eat is still very important for me. Although I can partake in sweets from time to time and have bread or chips as well, I always try to do it in moderation. My bedtime snack has switched to nuts, I’ve cut out any regular soda and now get the small ice cream cone on the rare occasion the family goes out for a sweet treat.
Me: If you could give 3 tips to other newly diagnosed diabetics, what would it be?
Andy : 1. Get active! Exercise definitely helps me maintain a healthy blood glucose level. Type 1 diabetics need to be careful that your levels don’t dip too low during and after exercise though! 2. Don’t get overwhelmed! I was most overwhelmed with the changes in diet that I’d need to make and having to count carbs. Don’t worry, everyone feels this way to begin. As you start to learn how many carbs different things have, it will get easier. Start reading blogs and forums online and you’ll start learning more and more. 3. Be prepared! If you’re going out to eat, review the restaurant’s menu ahead of time for a good choice. If you’re going to the movies, sneak in your own healthy snack & drink – this makes it easier when your friends are eating candy, popcorn and Coke. If you’re travelling, bring a can of nuts or similar snack to eat in case you get hungry.
There you have it! I may be biased, but Andy is such a great example of someone who really took control of his disease. Checking his glucose per his doctor’s order, taking his medication as ordered, being diligent in regard to exercise & nutrition, and staying mindful about his body is key to managing his disease.
I hope you are enjoying this series of blog post on Diabetes. I plan to continue posting on different disorders/diseases and interviewing those who have managed their disease process well. Hopefully this will inspire those living with various disorders to do the same!
Until next time…Be the Change~
Update: As of March 2017, Andy is still managing his Diabetes well. He has started taking his Junevia again, as his glucose was running consistently in the 140s. I have been advised from a nurse, that there is often a “honeymoon period” with new diabetics, thus this need to go back on medication is very common.
*disclaimer this is NOT a substitute for medical advise. If you or someone you love are having symptoms of diabetes or some other disease/disorder, please seek medical treatment immediately.