What You Feel When You’ve Received a Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis
You’ve just been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Maybe you’ve led a healthy life up until now, or maybe you have several pre-existing conditions that brought it on. Ultimately, after a diagnosis, you’ll likely be feeling disbelief, fear and grief. It’s a life-altering diagnosis – no matter what anyone says – and everyone manages these feelings differently.
The Experience Exchange is committed to providing everyone with T2D with a space to talk about their real feelings and experiences – no kid gloves, no pandering, just a safe place to discuss the reality of T2D. We aim to shed the stigma around the disease and to exchange information about what’s worked for you in managing your diagnosis, in hopes that it might help others.
Margaret’s T2D diagnosis came after a long struggle with severe health issues. She was a double transplant patient, who’d had her first liver transplant nearly 25 years ago. The lifestyle changes involved with transplants are immensely taxing, and can lead to ongoing use of Prednisone, an immunosuppressant that helps prevent the rejection of the transplanted organs. However, prolonged use of Prednisone has been linked to insulin resistance, as it affects how the body processes insulin produced by the pancreas. This was the case with Margaret, and not long after having a kidney transplant, she developed Type 2 New-onset Diabetes.
Her reaction was multifaceted. But, predominantly, she was shocked, and disheartened by the diagnosis. Much of her day-to-day life was already dictated by long-term maintenance of her transplants. Now, she had to add one more thing to the mix. She had to start using insulin, and had to monitor her carbohydrate intake with meticulous detail. Life became more complicated, and as a result, infinitely more difficult. T2D was just one more thing to take on.
Jesse, a career chef and food-service manager, has had T2D for over 34 years. Over that time, he’s learned how to live with the disease as best as he can. However, his doctors had informed him that his T2D would be progressive, and that his use of medication would increase over time. Sure enough, his insulin and metformin use increased, as his weight continued to climb, despite physician and dietitian prescribed lifestyle changes. At his heaviest, Jesse was 320lbs. Eventually, he started to develop diabetic neuropathy in his legs. This is when the fear set in.
The loss of sensation in his legs pushed him to start trying other options for dietary management to help his weight and, consequently, his symptoms. He educated himself on the Ketogenic Diet, intermittent fasting, as well as different supplements and foods associated with reducing blood sugar. He started combining the Keto diet with intermittent fasting, and incorporated some high intensity interval training into his workout. He’s since been able to keep his weight around 250lbs.
Fear served as a motivating factor for Jesse. But that’s not always the case. Fear can be crippling, and can lead to inaction. That inaction can be dangerous, even lethal under certain circumstances when it comes to a disease that needs so much attention.
Grief manifests in many different ways. Sometimes, as a self-defense mechanism, we immediately react with anger, lashing out at whoever’s closest. It can also cause you to withdraw, feeling numb and indifferent. Like fear, it can lead to inaction, which can have adverse effects on your health.
This was the case for Jerry. After a long history of alcohol abuse, he was finally sober. He’d led a very high-functioning life as an addict, but it had taken a toll on his health eventually developing T2D. After his diagnosis, he seemed to withdraw from his friends and loved ones. He’d lash out at odd times over small things. He was quick to anger, and never talked about his diagnosis. Eventually, he came around, and started going through the motions of treating his T2D. He didn’t require insulin, but he couldn’t ignore how drastically his life had just changed. He’d never talk about it, went about his day-to-day as if nothing had changed, and frequently missed taking his medication, which caused problems for his well-being.
His diagnosis meant making sense of the toll his drinking had taken not only on his family, but on his health. After receiving counselling through group therapy, Jerry is on an effective path to recovery.
In all of these cases, there were different circumstances for each T2D diagnosis. For Margaret, it was prolonged use of Prednisone post-transplant. For Jerry, his alcoholism played a contributing role.
Jesse had been living with T2D for over three decades before it started posing real problems for his health. Jesse’s weight was not the cause of his T2D diagnosis, but did become a symptom. There is so much stigma around weight, diet, and T2D that it puts those living with the disease in a terrible position. “Well why can’t you just eat less?” “You brought this on yourself.” “You should eat healthier.” These incredibly unfair assumptions fail to understand what T2D does to the body.
Margaret, Jesse and Jerry’s reactions (and even symptoms) are completely unique to their situation. Everyone reacts differently. But it’s important to remember that, despite this, no one is alone in their condition.
Our goal at the Experience Exchange is to create a community. We want to provide you with a platform to share your stories, learn from others’ experiences, and ultimately uncover what matters to you in your T2D experience. We want to shed the stigma and instigate conversation – and that all starts with you.
So tell us – what’s your T2D story? Please share with us on our Facebook page.