Saturday, March 29, 2014

Diabetes Update: Moving in the Right Direction

On March 4th I went to see my primary care physician (first time I've met her face to face) to go over my quarterly hemoglobin a1c test results. For those of you who don't know, it's a blood test that tells you what your average blood sugar levels have been for the last three months or so. For people with type 2 diabetes, it's the most important report card you get.

This was my first one since diagnosis, so I was nervous that even more bad news was on the way. You see, I test my blood first thing in the morning, and I had been getting perfectly acceptable results for quite a long time, but there are always the dire warnings that your blood sugar might be spiking later in the day even if it's OK when you wake up.

The test results had been available to me for a couple days via the Group Health web site, but I had decided not too look at them until I had a qualified medical professional to help me understand their implications. I didn't want a repeat of the week after getting my diagnosis results imagining the worst and torturing myself with images of blindness and amputations.

I had prepared a long bulleted list of everything that was going horribly wrong with my body which I attributed to the medications, and my doctor was happy to go through them all, but first she wanted to share the a1c results: They were great. The a1c number was 4.9 (my diagnosis test was 9.9) and the calculated average blood glucose level was 94, which is in the lower half of the normal range.

She said it was the most dramatic improvement she had ever seen (admittedly, she's about 12, but still). She said I could stop taking the metformin, but we decided together to cut the dose in half instead and watch the results to be sure. The last thing I wanted was to go off that horrible medication only to have to start it again.

We did go through my list of horribly bad things, and some of them she attributed to how suddenly I had lowered my blood sugars. Some of them were likely due to the cholesterol medication. I left there feeling optimistic.

Weeks later, the body aches and fatigue had only gotten worse. I missed work on two occasions and spent the days curled up in a ball on the couch whimpering. I just couldn't take it anymore, so I decided to stop the statin pills and make an appointment to discuss other options for managing cholesterol, as well as my growing skepticism about its importance. (paging Dr. Gagne, paging Dr. Gagne)

So, I'm heading back in next week. Blood sugars have maintained in an acceptable range, so I'm going to talk about a further reduction in metformin and let her know that I refuse to take those cholesterol / torture pills ever again.


Sean Williams said...

Wow, Seumas, what an incredible set of steps you've taken! I am so sorry that you've been in such horrible pain; I hope that letting go of the cholesterol meds offers you significant (and immediate!) relief!

I'm leaving for Ireland in a couple of weeks; take good care of yourself while I'm there (now, and always).
-- another unapologetic ENFJ

Sandra Stahl said...

I'm so proud of you Seumas, the doctor just doubled Randy's Metformin to 1000 mg per day, and of course he is on Avorstatin for cholesterol. I hope his latest trip to Dr. has opened his eyes as wide as your are. I love you and want you around many more years. Love Sandy