Kathleen Weaver might be considered the godmother of diabetes bloggers. After all, she started blogging about her experiences back in the dawn of time (about 2003), when the word "blog" brought nothing to mind but a spill of some sort for most folks. For her day job, Kathleen's an accomplished high school computer science teacher in Dallas, TX. We're delighted to host Kathleen today, as she provides a little window into her "other" life as a Type 2 PWD living on insulin.
A Guest Post by Kathleen Weaver
When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, my doctor and I were unable to find a pill that would control my diabetes to his and my satisfaction. Side effects were an issue, and the variability. Since I am a computer scientist, I am a control freak and a numbers junkie. I just couldn't deal with eating the same meal three times in a row and seeing complete different numbers on my meter four hours after eating. In fact, when on oral medication, I felt my blood sugar meter was the ultimate random number generator.
My cousin, who is a PhD Pharmacist and who was working with the VA hospital at the time, told me that they were having good luck putting their patients on both Metformin and insulin at the same time, then getting them stable and off the insulin. I relayed that to my doctor, and he suggested that I try insulin on its own and not use a pill, since insulin is the gold standard, and I was willing to do the injections.
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I went on Eli Lilly's 70/30 insulin. I wasn't happy with it either and had lots of highs and lows, and was eating to keep from going low. On reflection, I would have done better on a different mix. We added a rapid acting insulin (the 30 part of the Lilly insulin), and a sliding scale and that worked much better. Also I was doing better with carb counting. I did have an A1C between 6.5 and 7.0 the whole time, but too much of the time I was low, and I was gaining weight. About a year in, the doctor suggested I research the pump and think about it.
It took about a year's research between deciding it was the right thing, finding out which pump to choose, and how to pay for it. I couldn't get approval as a Type 2 with the insurance I was on, but I was in a place where I could work a few extra gigs, get extra pay and pay for it out of pocket. I also had to pay for supplies for a few months out of pocket, but when my workplace switched insurances, they picked up the supplies. They have also paid for two insulin pumps since.
On the insulin pump, I have had A1C's as low as 6.3 — that takes a lot of work and I've had a few things go on in the workplace where it was hard to test. Things have stabilized and are now going much better. Back then, my A1C was as high as 9.3 when I wasn't testing.
I wouldn't be able to do some of the things I've done medically if I were on oral medications. I have severe knee pain, and I just had my second steroid shot on Monday (they tried it in November with good results). My knee is much more comfortable with the steroid shot, but it also elevates blood sugar. Last night I shot up to about 450, but am back normal today.
I've also had steroid shots to control foot pain — a bout of plantar fasciitis which hasn't bothered me in a few years.
I won't use oral medications, though my mother does with fairly good results. She is quite rude and complains that she would rather die than go on insulin. Not me. In fact, the excuses like "I'd rather die than go on insulin" is probably one of the most irritating of comments made by people who aren't on insulin. I'm sure anyone who is on insulin has heard that. Here I am taking insulin, doing well on it, and someone I loves says I'd be better off dead? Really?
I also have severe needle phobia, but I do manage as long as I don't see the needle go into the skin. I always look away when someone else gives me a shot, and I really don't like them telling me it is going in. I just want them to do it. There are some infusion sets that I have difficultly with because you have to see the needle enter the skin. I prefer pens to vials when I have to inject, because I don't have to look to aim. I've also gotten pretty good at looking the other way.
Even with needle phobia, I have found a way to deal with insulin because I know it's best for me.
Thanks Kathleen: we know lots of people who think T2s on insulin pumps don't exist.
btw, Readers: Kathleen's collection of blog posts is now available on Kindle.