I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2005, shortly before my 29th birthday. At that time, an A1C under 6.5% seemed relatively easy to attain with diet and exercise, and ten years later, with the addition of metformin. Counting carbohydrates and motivating myself to exercise could be a challenge sometimes, but now that I have seen an A1C close to 8.0% and experienced the tough work to bring it back down, I realize how little effort I used to put toward diabetes management.
In late summer 2016, I headed to the endocrinologist to find an A1C above 7.0% for the first time since my diagnosis. We talked about ways to get back to the diabetes management that had been successful for me in the past and acknowledged my challenging schedule being in school part-time and working full-time. All that hard work had recently led to a promotion with more responsibility, and I knew I needed to get healthy to succeed. We parted ways with an appointment scheduled a few months out, and a game plan to add more medication, likely a GLP-1*, if needed at that time.
Just a few days later, my father passed away suddenly. Survival mode kicked in for the next three months. The motivation for exercise as a stress reliever was remarkably high, yet alcohol usage played a dangerous role with low appetite and a high activity level.
Winter eventually came, just in time for the fog following a close loved one’s death to lift and reveal some very ugly and raw feelings. Combined with decreased activity and a new-found hearty appetite, this all came to a head at that previously scheduled endocrinologist appointment, where we stared at the A1C result that was much higher than the target we had set.
I walked away from the appointment with a written prescription for Victoza (a GLP-1), and with a verbal prescription meant to gently turn me toward taking care of myself. Still, I was left with questions. How could I have let this happen, even knowing that my father’s death only exacerbated a problem that had already been identified? How could I put my health at risk when my family needed me most? What needed to change, besides adding Victoza to my diabetes management?
For diabetes management, Victoza quickly went to work, and by June, I was back in my range of comfort as far as A1C went. I also worked to reduce my stress levels, and in turn, reduced the inflammatory processes that had previously been increasing my blood glucose levels.
I planned a move back to the Midwest, near my family, after twenty years being a thousand miles away. I knew my family needed me and I needed them, and diabetes management became a priority to stay healthy. As I made this move and took a leap without a job lined up in the Twin Cities, I weaned off Victoza without impact on A1C or an already strained pocketbook from COBRA payments. It has been nearly two years since the move, and I know it was the right choice, even with the seemingly never-ending winters.
In the future, I would not hesitate to go back on Victoza, or consider insulin, if A1C levels again begin to rise out of my comfort zone. I have been extremely lucky so far to be relatively healthy with type 2 diabetes and want to continue that with the use of any appropriate methods.
* Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 (or GLP-1) is a class of medications designed to increase insulin secretion and decrease glucagon secretion, and to improve insulin sensitivity.
Rachel F manages type 2 diabetes with diet, exercise, and metformin. Along with writing about diabetes, she is a strong advocate of psychosocial support and is a DiabetesSisters PODS Leader. Rachel relocated to Saint Paul, Minnesota to be closer to family. She also spends her time reading, running, and exploring her new surroundings.