Welcome to my little slice of the internet that I call Flawed yet Functional! The focus of my blog is living a healthy, fulfilled life no matter the curve balls life throws at you. The phrase “Flawed yet Functional” describes my life in so many ways. My health has had its ups and downs with an AVM resection and Type 1 Diabetes, and today I must share with you another bend in my health journey: the end of insulin free diabetes.
For those of you who are new here, you might be thinking, “You are a Type 1 Diabetic, of course you should be taking insulin!” You aren’t wrong, if the pancreas is not producing any insulin. I’ve found some incredible, compelling research shortly after my diagnosis in April 2017 that pointed to eliminating gluten from the diet which would halt the autoimmune response of attacking the pancreas. Thereby allowing the pancreas to continue to produce insulin, although at a lower level.
Sound unbelievable? It did to me too, but I experimented on myself and it worked! (Read more of the research I found here.)
The Beginning of the End
Since about September, I’ve been having a roller coaster of blood sugar readings. Not up and down within a day, but climbing for 2-3 days then slowly back down over 7-14 days. Upon returning to normal for a day or two, I’d climb again for 2-3 days then slowly back down over 1-2 weeks.
Each time, I could attribute it to an exposure to a food I am sensitive to, or so I thought. I’m wondering now if that was the beginning of my pancreas kicking the bucket. However, this pattern fits the pattern I’ve seen the last 19 months whenever I ingest a food I am sensitive to. So who knows?
The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back
Two days after Thanksgiving, my blood sugar spiked higher than it ever has since my diagnosis. The first day I was around 230 all day then the following day I was in the mid-300’s all day. Normal blood glucose level for a non-diabetic is around 100. So 200 and 300’s is quite high.
While I was shocked at these high numbers, I assumed I’d been exposed to gluten at a coffee shop I visited on Black Friday. I drank my tea from a mug, not a to-go cup, and the place had ample opportunity for gluten cross-contamination since they also sold baked goods. Naturally, I put the blame on the coffee shop.
So, I jumped to my usual routine when hit with cross-contamination:
- Identify and eliminate the source – Coffee shop which I don’t frequent as it isn’t near me, so done!
- Tighten down diet – Since this cross-contamination was really affecting my blood sugar, I went back to the elimination phase of the Autoimmune Protocol. I figured since my gut was SO affected, I should go back to the beginning, at least temporarily.
- Tighten down carbohydrates – Reducing carbs goes hand in hand with tightening down the diet. Eating mostly meat and vegetables is low-carb by nature.
- Track, track, track – I made notes of everything: what I ate, when I ate it, how many days of cross-contamination, how many day I’d been tightening my diet, etc.
Guess what? It didn’t work. When I hit 14 days of 300+ blood glucose, I knew something had to give. For all my other cross-contaminations, I would begin seeing some normal readings by day 14 and certainly none above 200. I was not seeing anything below 250, and most were above 300. Sigh. I couldn’t continue to wait on the hope that my gut would heal and my blood sugar would return to normal.
Time for Insulin
With a bit of reluctancy, I began the process of double-checking then acquiring insulin:
- Double checked my blood glucose monitor against the doctor’s to verify it was correct – It was.
- Re-calibrate my glucose monitor – No change. It was within normal accuracy range. (I should note that I did these two steps because I used two of my family member’s monitors on Thanksgiving which both gave me good results. So I thought my monitor might be off. Unfortunately, that was not the case.)
- Research the insulin I wanted to go on – You know I can’t just do what the doctor says, I had to form my own opinion and plan before talking to them. I’ll share more on this at a later date!
- Email my doctor to get some insulin.
- Pick up insulin from pharmacy – In total, this process took a week! I could have done it faster, but I was still hoping against hope my blood sugar would recover. It didn’t.
19 Months of Insulin Free Type 1 Diabetes!
All that to say, my 19 month experiment of managing Type 1 Diabetes without insulin, solely by diet, exercise, and healthy habits is over. I began taking insulin on Saturday, December 9, 2018. While it was a big downer for me at first, I am not going to wallow in despair that I was not able to keep my diabetes diet-controlled. One of two things happened:
- My gut is severely inflammed and will eventually heal, allowing me to discontinue insulin injections.
- My pancreas called it quits even more or all together which means I’m on insulin injections for life.
Which ever one happened (or both!) I will not allow this to defeat my spirit or my efforts to live the fullest, healthiest life I can.
Right now, I’m working to figure out my insulin dosage. I am not changing my diet yet because I think good blood sugar control and overall good health can come from an AIP/Paleo diet combined with insulin support. Recently, I spoke with an adult-onset, Type 1 Diabetic who told me just how awful she feels all the time. High, low, high, them low again is commonplace for her (FYI for non-diabetics, the physical symptoms of high/lows, especially lows, are quite severe and awful. It does not feel good to be low). I think diabetes management can be better. You can feel good and still be insulin-dependent, and I’m going to prove it through my life.
All is not lost, I continue to march forward looking for ways to maximize my health while I share my story with all of you. The end of insulin free diabetes is disappointing but will not kill my joy. If a new diagnosis blindsided you, an unexpected seizure sidelined you, or the tried-and-true meds turned on you, hope is not lost. You can still live a healthy, fulfilled life. There is another way to manage your condition. Let’s work on it together!