As usual for this time of year, I am at the annual scientific sessions of the American Diabetes Association. For four days I have been hobnobbing with others interested in diabetic nephropathy, learning about new stuff, and hanging out with my spouse in Boston.
This year brought a new perspective. I am now living with diabetes myself.
The diagnosis provided no big surprise. My fasting glucose levels had been “impaired” for about 10 years, a clear indicator that this could happen. I would start a diet, compulsively recording every bite and calorie I ate. This resulted in a few pounds coming off, but as soon as I failed to track food, it came right back. I had generally resigned myself to plus sizes for the rest of my life.
A few months back I established care with a new doctor. Basic lab work showed a somewhat higher glucose than before. Oops. I got back on the wagon to try and fix that by my next labs. I had some additional motivation as well. My daughter got engaged at Christmas, and I really wanted to drop some tonnage before taking family photos. I thought I would get it all fixed.
Unfortunately, I failed. Or at least my pancreas did. My HbA1c, a measure of the amount of hemoglobin with glucose glommed onto it, was 6.8%. Anything above 6.5% means you have diabetes.
My brain spent a few minutes in denial. Perhaps if I got more aggressive and lost some more weight, this would go away…? Luckily, I had put on my big girl panties and dealt with it by the time the doctor came in to discuss my next steps.
So this was my first year attending the diabetes meetings as a doctor, a scientist, and a patient living with the disease. In the near future I will write more about dealing with diabetes. It's especially sobering when you know stuff about your pathology...