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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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My Numbers Are Great. So What's Wrong With Me?

I’ve written about my neighbor, Paul (not his real name), who’s a type 2 like me. But when it comes to our diabetes, our formal designation as type 2s is really about all we have in common. Otherwise, we’re pretty different. I’ve taken metformin and a sulfonylurea for almost 10 years while he just recently started taking both drugs despite having been diagnosed as type 2 years ago.

Lately I’ve been trying a combination of a low-carb diet, fewer calories, and a lot of brisk walking to lower my most recent A1c from 8.2% to 7%. I’ve been at it for almost two months. I’m probably down to about 7.2% by now. (I’ll know after my next official A1c test in September.)

Yesterday Paul told me that one month after going on metformin—and dropping sulfonylurea because it was bringing on hypoglycemia—he’s already down to 6%.

I’m jealous. His has to be some crazy beginner’s luck. “Yeah,” as Jon Lovitz would say, “That’s the ticket, beginner’s luck!”

I said his number is superb, given that he’s 69 and has only recently started on the medications that most of us begin taking almost immediately after we’re diagnosed.

But Paul is a worrier. He worries that his A1c will fluctuate madly, or that 6% is still too high, or conversely that it places him at the threshold of some fatal plunge into hypoglycemia.

Me? I’d be utterly content with 6%. But Paul’s fairly new to all this. What many of us know to be good numbers aren’t imprinted on him the way they are on us. 

I think that the longer you have the disease, the likelier you are to not fret over every thing that comes with it. I’ve told Paul that in so many words, but I know all of us have to find our own way.

It’s like when you tell a son who’s never had a girlfriend that what he thinks is new ground has already been gone over a couple of billion times by all the lovesick boys who have ever lived before him.

He has to figure it out for himself. You can set some markers, but you still have to pull back and let him careen around until, you hope, he gets his bearings.

Paul’s heading out to an endocrinologist tomorrow, loaded with questions and concerns. He’s positive the endocrinologist won’t say what Paul’s regular doctor predicted he will: “What the hell are you here seeing me for?”

I’m more optimistic. Paul’s doing what we all do when deep down we’re pleased with what we think is good news but don’t want to jinx it by believing it just yet. Eventually a chorus of positive voices—me, his doctor, the endocrinologist—may soothe his doubts.

That’s when he’ll shift from, “Omigawd, my A1c is six!” to “My A1c? Six-point-oh. Not bad, eh?”


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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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