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It's a Type 2 Life
It's a Type 2 Life

San Francisco Bay Area resident Patrick Totty writes about his experiences living with type 2 diabetes

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Bobbing on the Sargasso Sea

The Sargasso Sea is a section of the Atlantic Ocean that almost every sailor on earth knows about and fears.

It’s not that the sea has dragons, or violent weather, or pirates, or unexplained disappearances. What it has is nothing, as in no wind and currents. It is a thoroughly placid sea.

If you are becalmed on the Sargasso and don’t have an engine or fuel for one, be prepared to float along aimlessly for weeks on end with no way out.

I think I’ve reached my Sargasso. A couple of months ago, after my doctor told me that my fasting blood glucose level was in the 210 mg/dL range, he suggested that I start taking insulin. I decided to see if I could hold off doing that by stepping up my exercise, excising as many carbohydrates from my diet as I safely could, and shedding some weight.

Could I re-exert some control without having to go on insulin?

I began in mid-June and decided to experiment for 90 days. So, almost two-thirds of the way through I have some gratifying results:

  • I’ve lost about 20 lbs (from a start at 218). My low-carb diet hasn’t left me with any great cravings or hunger, and I now realize that I was eating way more than I needed to out of habit and as entertainment.


  • Taking a brisk walk daily has once again become a habit. I’m relearning all the things I like about my town, and I often get the same kind of sweet insights and inspirations that many of us get when we’re half-dozing in the morning shower.


  • I’ve dropped my levels down to 145—a 65 mg/dL difference. This is without insulin and taking just metformin. That’s the equivalent to dropping my A1c from 9.0% to 7.0%. Although I know that the new ideal for control is 6.5%, I also know that seasoned type 2s like me are considered to be doing fairly well at 7.0%.

So 145 mg/dL seems to be my Sargasso Sea. I’m stuck there. Sometimes I dip into the 120s, or bump up to 160, but my weekly, and now two-month, average has fixed on 145.

This irritates me because the irrational part of me keeps whining that my self-treatment should continue bestowing fantastic progress and wonderful numbers on me.

I may have an ace up my sleeve: I still intend to lose another 10 lbs., which should increase my insulin sensitivity. There’s also a carb source or two that I can revisit.

Then again, maybe not. A 7.0% A1c is pretty good for an old type 2, and my concern now should be staying there for as long as I can. Taking insulin is no big or bad thing. But for now, it can wait. There are worse things than bobbing on the Sargasso Sea.  

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Tags: Drugs , Exercise , Food

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About the Author

Bay Area resident Patrick Totty was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in July, 2003.

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