Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Living with type-2 diabetes

Today I'd like to welcome fellow Carina Press author and all-round lovely lady, Leah Braemel, and her husband, Gizmo Guy, to my blog to talk about life with type-2 diabetes. I'm on her blog discussing why I decided to donate some of my royalties to diabetes research. It's good stuff :)
Leah is also generously donating an ebook from her backlist to one lucky commentator.

Q. When did you discover you (your husband) had type-2 diabetes?

Gizmo Guy: It was 2 years ago - I went into the docs with the flu - doc did a blood test and had called us back before we even got home.

Leah: It's almost 2 years to the day; as GG says, he had come down with H1N1. I knew he was feeling really bad when he agreed to see the doctor, something he hated.  I knew something bad was up when the doctor phoned us back so quickly. He told me, very briefly, that my husband had diabetes, no hedging "might be", just straight out, "he has diabetes", and proceeded to give me a few short directions like "no sugar in his diet at all" and "bring him back in when he's done the flu." Then I had to break the news to GG and our sons, no fun task, especially since the boys have to be aware that it may be in their future too. 

Q. How did this change your life?

GG: In my case it was a bit of a wake-up call. Gave me the incentive to straighten up my act. Get my weight under control and finally start to eat correctly. I have always been a walker but this pushed me - I usually put in 5 kilometers a day now - sometimes more.

The biggest finding was that sugar is in everything - carbs break down into sugar in your system, you have to be aware of everything you put into your mouth.

I didn't want to be someone who just took a pill and let medicine control my life.

I have had my blood-sugar level under control, with the help of metformin, but diabetes wasn't quite done with me. I started feeling loss of sensation in my toes - I noticed when i stepped into a hot tub and couldn't feel the heat. It has spread into the lower half of both feet, and is starting to affect my balance.

And as I am a 55 year young male -  I don't know if it's age or the diabetes, but I don't seem to have the strength and endurance I had. I am tired all the 

Leah:  I should mention that GG has been a vegetarian all his life. Even though being a life-long vegetarian also meant his cholesterol levels were enviably low, he ended up not only on metformin but on a cholesterol medicine as they try to bring diabetics' cholesterol levels way down. While above he says he needed to get his weight under control, he was only 5 pounds above the recommended limit for his age and height. He cut back so much that he ended up dropping 30 pounds until he was below the limit--he had no fat on him anywhere, and was starting to look skeletal.  (He's leveled off now, and is comfortably back in the middle.)  Changes for me and the rest of the family? Since he's vegetarian, mainly it meant getting creative to cut out the carbs and find good ways to provide him protein. Our holiday celebrations, especially Christmas, have had to be adjusted -- I usually spent every weekend in December baking all sorts of goodies, but now I feel I can't as it would just be cruel to put out the cookies and candies that he once loved but dare not eat any more. And considering that now we have to worry about the circulation/nerve damage in GG's feet and where that might one day lead, and the fear going into his now yearly optometry tests since diabetes also affects the eyes, every cough, sneeze, ache and pain he has now makes me worry about him that much more.    

Q. What's the most common misconception about the condition?
GG: I would guess it is that basically you can have Type 2 and really feel nothing. Before I got the flu, before the diagnosis, I felt fine.  Frequent urination was about the only symptom - and i have always had what i think to be a small bladder. So there is no excuse for getting in for that annual checkup.

Leah: the biggest misconception for me is probably that only overweight people get diabetes. As I said above, GG was only about 5 pounds above his recommended weight at the time of his diagnosis. Another misconception I see, is that people think they won't get diabetes if they turn vegetarian. Obviously, that's not true (though it's better for your cholesterol levels.) 

Q. What would you give up to find a cure?

GG: I would love there to be a cure - the twice daily medication is not that much a hardship, but between the cholesterol medication and the disease you wonder what the (&(*& its doing to your system.

Leah: I'd give up writing if it meant finding a cure to keep him around longer and make his life easier. He's a vibrant man with a wry sense of humor who has always been able to make me laugh, has been supportive of all my endeavors, and I love him. I want him around, and feeling good, for a very long time. 

Okay--not crying. I would make such a terrible nurse. Thank you SO much for sharing this with us today. There are so many misconceptions about this disease I really hope they find a cure soon.

I'm donating 15% of the royalties from EDGE OF SURVIVAL to diabetes research. It's had some great reviews so it's hopefully a pretty good read too.


  1. Hi, Geeky Guy! (Livia wavinggg) Toni, kudos to you for sharing proceeds toward this cause.

    GG, I remember talking to Leah when you had the flu back then. You've really come a long way - you used to love your donuts and she had to quit doing all that Christmas baking ;)) Now she just makes a sweet potato casserole every now and then

    Leah says you're in better shape and even more handsome now than ever. To your continued good health. Happy US Thanksgiving!

  2. LOL, Livia -- one of these days I'll get you trained that it's Gizmo Guy, not Geeky Guy.

    Yes, GG loved his donuts back then. (I'd forgotten that -- he'd gotten in the habit of stopping off on his way to work to buy a donut every morning. *grumbles* never bought one home for me.)

  3. He'll always be Geeky Guy to me cause he's so smart.

  4. As a type 2 diabetic myself, I completely understand all the lifestyle changes that you've had to make. People don't realize how much sugar there is in everyday foods. You have to become a conscientious label reader, always checking for the amount of fat, sugar, and carbohydrates in every single thing that you eat.

    But in the end, it makes it all worthwhile, when you get your hemoglobin A1c levels back, or you drop the weight you need to drop and don't have the other problems that can be inherent in type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes.

    My thanks to Toni and Gizmo Guy and Leah for helping to shed more light on this subject and for donating a portion of the royalties to such as worthwhile cause.

  5. Kathy -- label-reading. Yes, that has become part of our routine during grocery shopping now.

  6. I was just diagnosed with Diabetes last month. Although it runs in both sides of my family, I still had hope I wouldnt get it.

    THANKS for this wonderfully inspiring post!

    Holiday Hugs, Kari Thomas,

  7. Hi Livia :) Thanks for visiting :)

    Kathy--I am so lazy, I don't know how I'd cope reading every label. ((()))

    Kari--oh no. I am so sorry. I hope they find a cure soon. Thanks for popping by.