Wait, Did You Just Say “Diabetic”?

Actually, she said “pre-diabetic”.

But the D word still came out.

I held the phone away from my ear for a moment and made a “WTF” face.

“Really?”

“Yeah, your glucose levels are really high.  Not in the diabetic range yet, but very close.”

“That’s crazy.”

“Do you have a history of diabetes in your family?”

Flashbacks to my grandmother’s house – insulin readers and little fingertip pin-pricks.

“Yep, I sure do.  So… what does this mean?  What should I do?”

This is where the conversation got a little funny.  And a little disturbing.

“You need to really watch your sugar intake, maintain a high-protein diet, back off complex carbs… oh, and make sure you keep your activity level high.”

“I’m going to be honest with you, doc, I’m not really sure I can eat more protein than I already am… or less sugar for that matter.  And… my activity level…. well, it’s pretty high.”

“I believe you.  Unfortunately, this could all come down to genetics.”

“Ok – well, what’s next?”

“A few more tests.  I’ll call you next week with results and more information.”

“Sounds good. I’ll talk to you then.”

I’m still a little stunned by the news, to be honest.  On the bright side, my iron levels are up from their lows last year and my cholesterol profile is “perfect”.

We’ll stick to the good news for now.

In the scant bit of internet research I’ve had time to do on adult onset diabetes, I have learned that I’ve been practicing a pretty immaculate diabetes-management style of nutrition for the past year or two.  5-6 small meals a day, low sugar, low complex carbs, high protein, lots of zinc, chromium, omega-3s, garlic, and fiber.

I’m at an optimal weight for a normal person (perhaps not for a neurotic cyclist, but that’s a different story).  I exercise 12-15 hours a week.

I’m not sure what to think other than food just got even more complicated.

Sweet.

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22 comments

  1. Woah, I made a WTF face, too!

    You think the other tests might give a different story?

  2. Well, basically they will either tell me if I have to figure this out now or if I can wait a little longer and go on with controlling it with nutrition.

    They diagnose type2 diabetes when you have a glucose level of 125, mine is 116. She’s checking something else… hemo-snuffleupagus or something. I have no idea what that test would tell us, I’m just waiting to find out.

    I guess it’s possible the high glucose level could be a fluke, but I did everything right (fasted beforehand)…

    We’ll see! Weird shit, man.

  3. Jaw drop… wait and see, Heids. Stay well.

  4. I’m shocked.

    I don’t know of anyone practicing a healthier lifestyle than you – so this is unexpected news.

    Other tests will tell…

  5. Whoa.

    Definitely stick to the good news and keep me posted. I have first-hand experience with complicated food stuff.

    Man…

  6. Welcome to my world?

    There are a number of things that can trigger a higher than normal blood sugar in a person who isn’t diabetic. Wait and see what the results of the other tests are. They are probably doing a hemoglobin A1C on you which shows the percentage of red blood cells in the body that are glycated, and if it comes back between 4 and 5 you are probably fine. Red blood cells have a lifespan of about 120 days so its a very routine check that diabetics have done for them to show the control you’ve had over that time frame.

    Anyway, give me a ring when you get the chance, or if you have any other questions.

  7. Thanks, Matt! Yeah – what you said – that’s the test. I’ll keep you updated. We, the forces that be, have decided it’s definitely a fluke. But I’m doing some due-diligence just to make sure.

  8. I had a similar WTF moment with my naturopath when my blood tests came back. I was on the other end of the glucose scale and was declared hypoglycemic. I needed to be more diligent about monitoring my sugar intake as much as diabetics and pre-diabetics do.

  9. It is definitely the end times if this is true!

    I kind of know how you feel. Last year, I was diagnosed as having a HYPO-thyroid. I was like, uh, WHAT? People who have hypo-thyroid usually have trouble losing weight. I kind of have the opposite problem. It was a weird moment, for sure.

    Hang in there. Funny thing is, no matter how much we try to control them, our bodies often have minds of their own!

  10. Heidi,
    First, can we assume that 116 is fasting (>8 hrs, no caloric intake)? If not, the test is not of particular concern. The diagnostic definition of diabetes for fasting glucose is TWO measurements of >125 *or* a glucose tolerance test of >200. I think that the GTT is a better (more sensitive) test (it measures the pancreas’ ability to respond to a glucose load), but either is acceptable. The hgb A1C is used to follow/manage diabetics; not technically to diagnose, but it *is* a reasonable thing to check. And, keep in mind that your doc is right: even if you don’t meet diagnostic criteria, those criteria are *somewhat* arbitrary. They are a line drawn in the sand of a continuum. You can say that you’re not diabetic if your GTT is 195, but your risk is arguably the same as someone with a GTT of 201. So, having a mildly abnormal value still deserves attention. I hope that makes sense.
    In any case, the ‘D’ word can be shocking, but I would argue that it is far from the end of days. People who are athletic, focused, and detail oriented do very, very, very well with Big D.
    Cheers,
    JV

  11. hey heidi, check that info. on reducing complex carbs. in my nursing classes we educate patients on reducing simple sugar and saturated fat intake and increasing protein and complex carbs. there’s evidence that a high fiber diet can also help control hyperglycemia. i can pull that if you want to read it.

    keep in mind that pre-diabetes is not a medical diagnosis. you may consider doing another 12hr fast and comparing the numbers. if you were my patient and asked what i thought i’d say continue to maintain the strong self-image you already have of yourself and not some numbers define you.

    best,
    ian

  12. I knew there was something wrong with you. This explains a lot, actually.

  13. Hi guys! Yep – the test was after fasting and nope, I know that it’s not a diagnosis. Just a WTF moment that I thought I would share.

    They are running the hemoglobin A1C test as a follow up. I am going to monitor my glucose level myself for a couple weeks and will compare post-fasting tests.

    Ian – I’d never let numbers define me! :) I’m not even really worried about this. The reaction has more to do with shock. If later down the line I do end up getting a real diagnoses of type 2 diabetes or whatever, that’s fine. I don’t feel intimidated or worried by it at all. Life happens, you just keep dealing. Thanks for the note about complex carbs… I misread it the first time!!

  14. Your going along in life minding your own business, trying to be a healthy bike racer or runner, then POW family health history jumps out and nails you right in the ass, its just something we never thought of! Hang Tuff

  15. hi Heidi,

    Of all the diseases, type 1 diabetes is manageable (not easy, but at least manageable). And it sounds like your life is already right on track to deal with this one.

    I’m an avid cyclist and have been using an insulin pump for just over a year.

    If you need a real-life, day-to-day blog about managing diabetes, check out this one: http://www.sixuntilme.com

    The initial adjustment to the idea of having a disease is really tough. You are resiliant.

    Best wishes.
    Sarah h

  16. I’m hoping the follow-up tests come out fine. Glad you’re getting everything checked out, since diabetes is one of those sneaky conditions that can do a lot of damage if not managed. I can kind of sympathize. My cholesterol numbers are not ideal, and I have low HDL (the good kind). One of the best ways to raise HDL is aerobic exercise. WTF! I either ride or run practically every day – like 12-15 hours/week total. Oh well, I do what I can and try not to sweat what I can’t control.

  17. holy crap. wow. you are one fit lady – so this is bizarre to me.

    you are so on top of managing things though, i’m sure you’d kick this in the butt.

  18. You’re making want to go and get a physical. I’ve got the diabetes and the high blood pressure and the heart disease in my family. I’ve just thought that if I kept my (similarly) healthy lifestyle up that it wouldn’t be a problem. I’m glad you found out, brave one and keep us posted on what’s the haps.

    Not to add one more sour note to it, but is this what aging means? Bah!

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