Need help navigating life with diabetes? You can always Ask D'Mine!

Welcome again to  our weekly Q&A column, hosted by veteran type 1 and diabetes author Wil Dubois.

Today Wil says: "I recently received a fascinating letter from seven co-workers in Anaheim, CA, all of whom have diabetes; each one of them with a different big D-question. As they wrote en masse, I decided to answer the same way. Thanks for writing, Guys!"

{Got your own questions? Email us at AskDMine@diabetesmine.com }

 

Roy, type 2 from California, writes:I don’t feel like my doctor is listening to my concerns. It seems like he’s always rushed and distracted. I’m tempted to find another doc, but I’ve been with him a long time and I don’t know if I’d be better off with someone else or not. Do you have any thoughts? 

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: Test-driving a car doesn’t obligate you to buy it. Nor does it obligate you to trade in your old one. The same is true of docs. You can try a new one out without “firing” your old one. Meanwhile, while it’s true that all docs have less and less time available to spend with their patients, the fact is that some are better about managing that time productively than others. But one thing to consider: Are you the problem? Or part of it? Do you bring an unrealistic agenda to the party? At your next visit come armed with only two things that you want addressed. Write them down. Be clear to the doc that these two things are important to you and then see what happens.

 

Scotty, type 2 from California, writes:OK, I’m kinda embarrassed to ask this, but I’m suffering from bad breath. Really bad breath. My wife won’t even kiss me anymore. I brush. I floss. I swish Listerine. But nothing seems to work. Is it my diabetes? 

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: This smells like periodontal disease to me. Any bleeding when you brush? Teeth sensitive to cold or heat? Don’t be embarrassed, some degree of periodontal disease affects about half of all adults, and having the big D ups the odds. Hugely. And elevated blood sugar and periodontal disease are like kids on a teeter-totter: They drive each other. The elevated sugar makes the disease worse, and when the disease gets worse the sugar goes up, and so on. So get your mouth to a dentist, pronto, because missing your wife’s kisses is the least of your worries. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth and bone loss in the short term and a whole host of really scary health problems—including cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and even dementia—in the long run. 

 

Otis, type 2 from California, writes: Is it possible to be happy with diabetes? 

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: Sure. Why not? Happiness is internal. It’s how we align our attitude with the world. Diabetes has a ton of challenges, but none of them are insurmountable. We are blessed to have a bevy of technologies and medicine to support us, and if we keep our blood sugar in control we can be as healthy as anyone else. For more on happy, see this column by David Spero over at Diabetes Self-Management. Of course, it’s also possible to be completely miserable with diabetes if you choose to. But that’s the thing. It’s a choice.

 

Eddie, type 2 from California, writes:Does diabetes make you stupid? It seems like over the last few years I just get dumber and dumber. Sometimes I do just outright dopey things.

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: The answer, I’m afraid, is maybe. It’s known that severe hypoglycemia kills neurons and can lead to brain damage, but at least one study was able to demonstrate (at least in rats) that repeated moderate lows might have a protective effect on the brain. Of course, lows are hard on the heart, too, so it’s best to avoid them. But more frightening, at least to me, is the increasing body of evidence that there’s a link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Hopefully, you’re just getting scatter-brained with age, as we all do to some extent, but if you are suffering from any of these ten signs and symptoms, talk to your doc right away. Like diabetes, we don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s yet; but like diabetes, the treatments are getting better and better and—God forbid you have it—the sooner you address it the better the outcome.

 

Cole, type 2 from California, writes:It seems that the longer I’ve had diabetes, the less energy I have. I get sleepy easily, and find I have to take afternoon naps almost every day. Does diabetes cause a lack of energy?

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: Diabetes doesn’t actually cause much. Other than an increased risk for high blood sugar, which, in turn, can cause all kinds of bad shit. My first worry when I hear of a PWD being sleepy a lot is that your blood sugar might be very high. Or at least very high some of the time. I don’t know how you test your blood sugar now, but shift to testing at times you don’t normally test to see if there are some high numbers lurking during your day. If you don’t do it now, be sure to test a couple of hours after eating. If, like many type 2s, you’re only testing in the morning, you’re missing a big part of the picture. If the sugar is generally in range the next place I’d look to is your meds. Do some research to see if “somnolence” is listed as a possible side effect of any of your meds—diabetes or otherwise. Somnolence is a fancy highfalutin word for sleepy.

 

Billy, type 2 from California, writes:My doc recently increased my metformin and it seems like I’ve been sneezing my head off ever since. Can it be the change in my medication, or maybe just early spring allergies? 

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: It’s probably more likely to be allergies, but it could be the bump in the met. Sneezing, runny nose, and stuffy nose are all documented “less common” side effects of metformin; and any time there’s an increase in any medication there’s a chance of exceeding your body’s tolerance threshold when it comes to side effects. In other words, the more the merrier may be true when it comes to money, orgies, and vacation days—but not for medication. Talk to your doc about switching to another diabetes medication. Lord knows there are plenty of options nowadays. See if that resolves the problem. If not, then see an allergy professional for sure.

 

Pinto, type 2 from California, writes:We all used to work together in the mines, and I can’t help but be angry over the fact that we all got diabetes. Can something in the work environment have caused our conditions? Well, angry is a bit strong. I guess I’m more grumpy over it than angry. But still, I can’t help but wonder if our work caused this.

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: Working conditions have been linked to diabetes. Most famously, the Veteran’s Administration will cover health care costs (and may issue disability compensation) to vets who served in Viet Nam and developed diabetes, due to possible linkage between Agent Orange and diabetes. And at least one study questions whether or not the higher incidence of diabetes in Native Americans might be linked to proximity of their homes of abandoned hard rock mining sites, including uranium mines, but….

Wait a sec.

Seven miners? From Anaheim? You’re not angry, you’re grumpy? With a colleague who’s having problems with sneezing, and another who’s sleepy a lot? And one who’s feeling dopey? And another with a question about being happy? One who’s embarrassed—dare I say bashful—to ask a question. And a seventh with a doc question?

I think I’ve been had here, Folks.

Ah. Yes. Damn it. Just around the corner, on the next page of my calendar, April Fools Day. 

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This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.