I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes 16 years ago, at just 8 years old. When I started my journey with type 1, I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn’t know what to expect, what to do, the complications, and so on, but my endocrinologist at the time gave me the basics. I was told to inject insulin for every meal, test my blood sugar frequently, and inject insulin every night and morning to cover my basal. And, most importantly, I was told that I could eat whatever I want.. as long as I took insulin for it.
And so, I did. I took the whole thing with stride, I was a courageous child and remarkably self-sufficient. Within a year I was checking my blood sugar and injecting insulin all on my own. And, of course, I took their advice as a free pass to eat whatever I wanted. Hearing that phrase enabled me to stay in my picky ways, continuing to eat junk food; pizza, chicken nuggets, french fries, chips, the works. As long as I took insulin, the experts would say, I’d be fine.
I erroneously put my trust in them, in that phrase, and despite my best effort my blood sugars were terrible. I was on a constant roller coaster, with my blood sugars rarely in range, and my A1c continually worse with each doctors’ visit. My only means of coping was the assurance from my doctor that this is “normal” and there were many diabetics worse than I. I held onto this lie, and used it to justify my ever-increasing sugar as “not that bad.” Later, with my A1c reaching into the 9’s, I switched to a new doctor who dropped a bomb on me. “If this keeps up,” she said “you’ll be lucky to make it to 40.”
“If this keeps up, you’ll be lucky to make it to 40.”
That truth, dropped on me in my teens, was a hard pill to swallow. She left me with that remark, but no recourse outside the trite advice already given to me. I just need to test more, I just need to eat better, I just need to try harder.. as if I wasn’t trying enough already. If this is the results of my best effort, what hope is there left? Am I doomed to die by 40? Doomed to live a short life, ending with a painful demise, riddled with complications? I had no answer.
Slowly, over time, I simply accepted my prescribed fate. I felt that, if I can’t control my diabetes, if I won’t live a long life anyways, I might as well throw caution to the wind. It doesn’t matter, I’m going to die anyway, I thought. Over time, I tested less, stopped injecting on time, and ignored my constantly high blood sugar. I was burning out, and having frequent suicidal thoughts. If there was nothing I could do, why bother? What’s the point of living, if I am sentenced to struggle and die?
This continued up until late 2016, my senior year of college, when my blood sugars were consistently over 200 mg/dl. I was browsing the internet late at night, when I saw a Facebook message from a man named RD Dikeman. We didn’t know each other, but he knew I had diabetes. He told me about Type One Grit, about the low-carb approach they follow by Dr. Bernstein, and included one of his videos. I watched the video, and I was instantly blown away. Cutting out carbs never even occurred to me, no doctor before ever told me to try that, and yet it made so much sense!
Cutting out carbs never even occurred to me, no doctor before ever told me to try that, and yet it made so much sense!
My eyes were forever, irrevocably opened. I finally realized how close I was to the cliff of complications, that my poor control was NOT okay, and I needed to make a change now. Here was the answer I missed for so long, the solution to my doom, the proof that I can LIVE. I made the switch immediately. I threw out almost all of the bread, ramen and chips from my pantry (and ate the rest because I’m not perfect), and had a sort of Last Supper at Cook-Out, my favorite fast food joint. Afterwards, I stocked my fridge with meat and veggies, and filled my mind with research and videos on this approach. I bought the book, and dove into Dr. Bernstein’s methods head-first.. And it changed my life forever.
It was a rough start. As I suspect many of doing, I did not read through the majority of the book before going all-in, but I read it over time. I suffered many low’s and minor errors in the first few weeks, and it took time for me to adjust my insulin and gain the control I have today, but it was all worth it. Instantly, my blood sugars were better than they had ever been, and they are even better today. My control is amazing, my A1c is amazing, and I know I can live a long, healthy life.
Now, I have dedicated myself to helping other diabetics open their eyes, and experience that same revelation I had 2.5 years ago. I want them to realize that diabetes isn’t hopeless, it isn’t a death sentence, it isn’t a progressive burden that will slowly drain you of your life and force an untimely and painful demise. It can be controlled. It can be managed. Normal blood sugars, the same as non-diabetics, CAN be achieved, and complications CAN be avoided. Do not let it shackle you, and convince you that you have no control, no say in your future.