Thursday, July 18, 2013

my diabetes real life community: meet amanda

i'm introducing my friends who i know in 'real life' that have diabetes.

today, you get to meet amanda. we met through twitter and the doc. but we met in real life when she came to visit me!!

amanda is Assistant Director of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences-North Central, Master Certified Health Education Specialist, and health scientist. she and her husband jonny moved to their current city four years ago and they love it! they have two fur-babies named baby-dog and daisy-dog.

what type of diabetes do you have?
I do not have diabetes, yet, but I live with hypoglycemia every day.

how long have you had it/when were you diagnosed?
I was diagnosed on September 16, 2011. However, I have been living with this since I was 10 years old.

can you tell us a quick summary of your diagnosis story?
I started following the happenings of a little group on Twitter called the DOC, or Diabetes Online Community, in early 2011. After meeting my online friends in REAL LIFE I realized that I had the same hypoglycemic symptoms that they all experienced. I could not shake the feeling that I needed to see a doctor and make sure I was healthy. I saw a great endocrinologist, was tested, and determined to be hypoglycemic! What a life-saver! I started on metformin, decreased my glucose consumption, and increased my intense physical activity levels. My A1c went from 4.0 up to 5.0 in a year and I finally felt alive! I never had enough energy to run before, but have completed many 5Ks and am training for a 10K and half-marathon. I am no longer lost in a fog or have headaches that last for a month! 

I feel like I owe my renewed life to the DOC. Without their influence I would not have pursued my symptoms. I also know that I am at an increased risk for developing diabetes in the future. My endocrinologist is curious to see if I have Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults, or LADA.

how do you treat it (shots, pump, pen, etc)? do you use any other technologies (CGM, etc)? 
I take metformin twice each day, am prudent about my glucose consumption, and test my blood sugar throughout the day. I do not use a CGM, but I am absolutely fascinated by the technology! (Can you tell I'm a scientist?)

what are some of your daily concerns, worries or considerations?
Every day I wonder if the metformin is going to be enough to keep me from having a low episode. Many people are unaware that metformin, which is typically given for hyperglycemia and Type-2 diabetes, is also a great tool for those with hypoglycemia. I worry that I may have a low while I am exercising and be alone. I tend to have difficulty with speaking and shaking when I go low, so I try to have a friend with me when I go running. Also, I have to be aware of everything I eat. Since my body dumps insulin quickly I try to limit my carbohydrate intake, hoping to fend off a hypoglycemic reaction.

what do you wish people without diabetes understood?
I would like for everyone to understand that diabetes is a life-changing condition. That isn't to say that one's quality of life decreases, not at all, but that staying healthy can involve so many decisions throughout the day and night. It isn't just having insulin shots.

how do you describe the feeling and symptoms of lows and to people who don't have diabetes?
I feel like I am in slow-motion, to be honest. I tend to stare off into space, then I start shaking hard. Sometimes the shakes are exhausting! I also have trouble speaking or making coherent sentences. There are also times when all I want to do is shut down and sleep, although it never makes me feel better.

amanda's trip to visit me!

what about the feeling and symptoms of highs?
At this point in my life, I do not typically have to worry about highs.

what's your go-to treatment for lows?
While I keep jelly beans close by, I typically reach for fruit. I need carbohydrates that break down slowly. That means it takes me longer to bring my blood sugar up, but I don't have a rebound low, either.

what's your meal plan? do you follow a special diet? do you enjoy the same treats that 'everyone else' does?
My meal plan consists of about seven small meals throughout the day. I avoid high fructose corn syrup above all else, as I know it is a trigger for my low blood sugars. I do not eat candy or drink sodas, either. I have never been much of a "sweets" eater. That being said, if I want to have a treat and I feel good, then I have a treat! 

what diabetes myth do you wish would get busted?
There is no such thing as a diabetic diet! Everyone benefits from limiting excessive carbohydrate intake, increasing nutrient-rich foods, and taking care of themselves.

what would you tell someone who was just diagnosed with diabetes? 
Prepare for a challenge! Diabetes can be such a booger, but it can also teach you more about yourself than many other challenges in life. There will be days when you feel great and others when you do not. Sometimes you will do the best you can and still have blood sugars that make you feel like you are on a roller coaster. Ultimately though, I would tell someone, whether newly diagnosed or not, to know that there are a lot of folks out there that are where you have been and are ready to help.

what's your favorite flavor cupcake? 
Carrot cake? Yeah, I like carrot cake… with cream cheese frosting!

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