Good question. Thanks for asking.
First, a little backgrounder on the known types of diabetes. Type 1 occurs in people whose bodies don’t make enough insulin. It can occur in children or those later in life. Those afflicted often lose weight easily because the body needs to sustain itself through glucose or body fat. T1 diabetics need insulin to survive. My current diagnosis is slow-onset Type 1 diabetes, meaning it came on…slowly. I was diagnosed 20 years ago but research indicates that diabetes comes on over a decade or more. I probably had it, without knowing, for much of my adult life. I had no symptoms.
Type 2 is far more prevalent, usually in those who are overweight, don’t exercise a lot and who eat a diet of processed foods and carbohydrates (grains, sugar, sodas, starchy vegetables, candy, desserts, etc). The hallmark of T2 is glucose that’s stuck in the bloodstream. There may be insulin produced by the pancreas but it may not be enough to get glucose into the tissues — and insulin injections may be prescribed. I was initially diagnosed with Type 2 but the diagnosis was changed this year because the endocrinologist declared I am “too healthy” to have T2. (see lab results below)
There is also gestational diabetes which occurs in pregnant women and is often resolved after childbirth.
I was prescribed insulin early on because most of the oral meds didn’t bring my glucose levels down. I’ve used Metformin off and on. It limits the glucose coming out of the liver (an amazing organ that stores all kinds of stuff).
Actually, insulin doesn’t address the root cause of T2 diabetes — the problem is a barrier that prevents blood glucose from getting into tissues. Insulin just addresses a symptom — high glucose in blood.
Insulin is billed as a lifesaving drug (actually a synthetic hormone) but it has downsides. A major problem with it is weight gain. While on insulin, a patient has glucose removed from blood, which is great, but that glucose is stored on the body as fat. Not so great, because it can make people more diabetic. But doctors who are fixated on glucose levels love prescribing insulin, and shrug off the problems of patients getting fat.
I am usually weighing in at about 140-150 pounds. Insulin made me balloon up to 185. Yikes. My doctor at the time told me, “I’m not going to worry until you get to 200 pounds.”
It may seem like I got sidetracked but the background is important.
When the endo this year suggested I did not have T2, but T1, I asked “But what about when I meditate about my mother and my glucose drops — isn’t that a drop of insulin resistance?”
It happened one night as I was preparing to sleep, and Iay in bed and imagined myself as an infant in my mom’s arms, held tight. I imagined her gazing at me with love in her eyes. I felt the warmth of her body, could smell her fragrance, and imagined I could hear her heart beating. I stayed with the image as long as I could, but then it faded.
I returned to the present, the warmth of the vision still comforting me. I prepared for bed and as a habit, checked my glucose meter (didn’t have a CGM in those days) to ensure my glucose was okay.
I was shocked to see that over the last 20 minutes my glucose dropped from 9 mmols to 7 mmols. That’s a huge drop. If I had a CGM it would have been screaming a warning of a sudden drop. I stared at the number. It couldn’t have had anything to do with my meditation. Or could it? The glucose quickly returned to its original level.
I decided to try it again and see if I could get a similar result. I calmed my pounding heart and returned to the vision of my mother’s embrace. Fifteen minutes later, I opened my eyes. The glucose dropped from 9 mmols to 7.5 mmols.
The thought that I could drop my glucose just by THINKING kept me awake that night until the wee hours. There’s no way my body created more insulin. It had to be a sudden drop in insulin resistance. It was a watershed moment.
So in response to my mention of this fact to the endocrinologist, I got nothing. He insisted his diagnosis was correct — I had slow-onset T1. He also suggested I stop taking Metformin, a pill that limits the glucose being released from the liver. I protested that I thought it helped me keep glucose in check. Didn’t hear me. Didn’t seem to care. Stuck to what he knew.
For three days following that appointment, my glucose numbers seemed uncontrollable. I’d inject and inject and inject to no effect. I hate it when people don’t believe what I say, and my body seemed to respond to that.
I had done a series of blood tests for the good doctor’s perusal. Actually, I’d been a bit concerned that my high glucose might be taking a toll on my body. (Who knews what’s going on inside?) An eye exam showed no damage to the eyes. But I didn’t know about all those places in the body like kidneys, the heart and brain that could be in trouble.
The lab tests came back. I was shocked. Apart from lousy glucose in the blood and urine, I am in very good health.
The bad news first.
Glucose fasting 12.4% (target is 7%)
Hemoglobin A1C 10.9% (target is 7%)
The good news.
All within target:
Sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, urea, creatinine, calcium, phosphate, albumin, billrubin, alkaline phosphatase, Gamma GT, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase.
LDL (the bad) cholesterol 2.22 mmol/L target is 1.5-3.40
HDL (the good) cholesterol 3.52 mmol/L target is >1.19
Chol/HDL Risk radio for heart issues 1.75 target is <4.4
Triglycerides, thyroid function both good.
Urinalysis good except for glucose (28) and ketones (3.9)
Urine creatinine and (micro)albumin both within limits.
The highlight for me is the low risk of heart disease/attack. I assume that’s also indicating a low risk of stroke. Of course my glucose numbers are bad but I try like hell to make them better. It’s just that some things are out of my control.
Those periodic glucose spikes (see earlier entry on Birthday Bliss) have likely been happening all my life. I’ve only just noticed them since 2016, when I got a continuous glucose meter. And because the triggers for these spikes seem so subtle, it’s very hard for me to be aware of when this hidden stress may screw with my glucose.
Not only am I dealing with these mysterious spikes, I also am aware that my dealings with medical professionals have led to a downturn in my health. I get an emotional reaction that messes things up. I had three days of glucose hell following appointments with the endocrinologist, a naturopath and a diabetes educator.
While I enjoyed being interviewed by Irene Lyon, curator of Smart Body, Smart Mind, that discussion exposed a lot of shit and sent my glucose levels into a period of crazy highs. The interview is posted on my blog.
Before I took Irene’s course my glucose would spike during exercise. I remember pushing weights in a gym and wondering why thoughts of my Dad would enter my head. I’d hike up hills near my home and my mind would flit back to family conflicts in the distant past. Was it the exercise that spiked the glucose or the fact that movement brought emotional issues to the surface?
In any case, the course got me focusing on being present in my body and my surroundings. Feeling the ground under my feet, the cool air entering my lungs, the state of my body at the moment…and those exercise spikes stopped. I changed my glucose with positive thoughts.
Sound familiar? Those plummeting glucose numbers also happened when I imagined being cuddled by my mom.
I’ve done a lot of work in recent years on my emotional well-being. My nerd brain sought out scientific papers, peer-reviewed research stuff on what causes these kinds of health issues. I found the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) research and did the quiz, scoring four out of 10. Each question relates to a different kind of emotional/physical abuse. And then I found papers citing the ACE study that linked scores like mine to autoimmune diseases later in life.
Here’s the thing. I don’t think I have Type 1 diabetes because I have insulin resistance, a hallmark of Type 2. How else could I see meditation prompt a drop in glucose? But I don’t have Type 2 because I’m fit and healthy (with the exception of glucose).
I know my hopes of recovery are poor. My endocrine glands are in recovery and my pancreas is in hospice. My hopes lie in helping others caught in the web of misdiagnoses.
Wearing a continuous glucose monitor helps to monitor the sudden highs and lows, especially those that come out of the blue. I wish more people would wear them, just to see if they get thought-provoked changes in glucose.
I can’t be the only one, right?