Knowing The Diabetes Warning Signs Could Save Your Life. (Jessica's story)

I really should have heeded the diabetes warning signs.

Looking back, the diabetes  early warning  signs were so obvious.
I remembered waking to voices. People crowding around me, asking me questions.

I opened my eyes to their  blurry  faces.

"Is that you Jessica? Are you okay?"

I licked my lips. "Yeah, just  thirsty ,"

"Do you think you can sit up?" 

The kind hands of an old friend helped me into a sitting position.

A woman I didn't know applied a damp cloth to my spinning head. I looked around… I was at the bank; The old friend was a security guard there.

I remember standing in line  scratching  my arm when the blackness .... sort of crept up on me.

Information About Diabetes Types and Symptoms

 Play for Diabetes tips and an overview of the diabetes warning signs

 "I thought I'd be okay," I said aloud, more to myself than to the woman kneeling down on the floor in front of me. 

 "She may have childhood diabetes, it really is becoming quite common," the woman said to the man next to her.

"Does this happen often?" he asked me.

"Only once I said, about a month ago." Though I left out the fact that I often felt like  passing out , and I  had  a couple of times before. I was just usually able to stop it. 

"We have a soda machine in the back," the woman said, standing up.

"Hang on, I'll get you one."

"I'm okay, I said."

The man shook his head and spoke firmly. "No you're not, you're too pale, you could have low blood sugar."

I frowned but I  didn't have the energy  to argue, I was still too groggy. I didn't have diabetes, which was ridiculous. I'm only 18. Diabetes happens to people who are much older.

The sound of the soda can popping open caught my attention. "Here," she said, handing it to me. My hands trembled as I took the cold can from her, I felt so  weak .

"Are you diabetic?" the woman asked, as I gulped down the soda as if it were the elixir of life.

"I don't think so," I said. "My mom is but ..."

"Then you may be as well," she said. "This could be one of the diabetes warning signs, and it  can  be  genetic  you know."


Skip Ahead to Diabetes

Warning Signs and Risk Factors

Over 23 million Americans have Diabetes

  Diabetes is now the leading cause of death in Mexico. It is the leading cause of blindness and Chronic Kidney Disease in the United States. 

-It is also the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

  -The problem is this; Many people who have type 2 diabetes will eventually die of kidney disease, heart disease or stroke, directly attributed to ... you guessed it, diabetes.

 In people with Type 2, the body does not produce or properly use the hormone insulin. Insulin is needed to convert sugar into energy for daily living. When this does not happen, the sugar builds up in the blood, and the cells in the body become starved for energy.

-Over a period of time, high blood glucose levels can lead to problems with the kidneys, nerves, eyes, and can cause serious heart problems as well.

   Types of Diabetes

 It turns out the diabetes early signs and symptoms are very similar, whether you have  Type 1 (also called juvenile or childhood  diabetes),  Type 2 (adult onset diabetes) , or pre-diabetes, because they all result in low insulin levels ( and high blood sugar).

- Diabetes Type 1 (Mellitus)  occurs when your pancreas cannot produce insulin, affecting less than 10% of those with the disease.

- Diabetes Type 2 (Mellitus)  happens not because your pancreas does not produce insulin, but does not produce enough, or your cells cannot  process  the insulin that is produced.

-In Pre-diabetes the blood sugar level is elevated more than normal, but not as high as with type 2. If a serious change in lifestyle is not started very soon, andadhered to, those with pre-diabetes will likely progress to diabetes type 2 within 10 years.

   -Once diagnosed with the early signs of pre-diabetes, it is  very important  to be tested every 1-2 years, to make sure the diabetes warning signs do not progress to Type 2.

 Of those affected with the disease, 90-95 percent have Type 2 diabetes.

-Although generally considered to be inflicted mainly on adults, a dramatic increase in Type 2 has been occurring in younger adults, as well as in teens.

-Many professionals recommend adults get screenings for Type 2 when they reach the age of 45, and every 3 years thereafter.

-According to the American Diabetes Association, 57 million Americans currently have Pre-diabetes.

Another 5.7 million are pre-diabetic and don't even know it.

  As Jessica's mom and a type 2 diabetic myself, I've always been very aware of the genetic risk factors for diabetes. (Although the diabetes warning signs are not  always  evident, they were with Jess.)

I've tried to keep my eyes open for the early signs and symptoms, and I did go over the symptoms of diabetes type 2 with Jess when she was younger, hoping she might recognize them should they present themselves.

 -Unfortunately, Jessica and I have never been as close as I would like, and like a lot of kids, it was in one ear and out the other. I don't think she really believed anything could ever happen to her.

You would have thought the early warning signs would have been enough to get Jess thinking about the possibilities, but they weren't.

 -It took another fainting episode to finally get her to open up and tell me about it, and to set up a visit with the doctor. (She never even mentioned the other spells until after the last one)

When she finally did get the glucose test, she learned that she was pre-diabetic. If only we'd taken the diabetes warning signs more seriously.

    Some of the Diabetes Warning Signs include:

  • Extreme and frequent thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive hunger
  • Low energy
  • Light headed-ness
  • Tingling or numbness in your extremities
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Bruises and cuts that take a long time to heal

    -In addition, risk factors for diabetes in young people are:

  • Irritability
  • Family History
  • Being Overweight (the rest can stem from this)
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Low HDL Cholesterol (the good stuff)
  • High Triglycerides

 -If your child is overweight, and has 2 or more of the 5 risk factors for diabetes above, you really should have testing done to be sure.

-It may well be your diabetes early warning ...don't ignore it!

  When we actually stopped to think about it, we were really very fortunate. A lot of folks never recognize the diabetes warning signs, or find out later in life, when it may be a whole lot more difficult to make the changes necessary for a healthy life.

 Jessica had only minor weight loss, but she  was  about 25 pounds overweight to begin with, one of the diabetes warning signs  I  should have seen coming. But she'd always been overweight, and I guess I was just blinded by a mothers love.

 Other warning signs and symptoms were also present, but she was just oblivious to them. Besides being overweight, and having a family history of diabetes (me), she didn't get a great deal of exercise. (She's kind of a computer geek.)

  -The good news is pre-diabetes can actually be reversed, and for some can even eliminated.

 By losing weight, (even 10-15 pounds can make a huge difference!) eating a more healthy and well-balanced diet, and including 30 minutes a day of healthy exercise. Pre-diabetes can be stopped, and with it the advancement to Type 2.

 -Poor diet, being overweight, and a lack of physical exercise
 ... the 3 deadly sins of Pre-diabetes and Diabetes Type 2.
 (Not to mention the heart disease that can also result)

  But all of that was about to change. For Jessica to have a happy and healthy life, I was going to do my best to make sure her pre-diabetes did not progress to my type two diabetes.

-Permanent lifestyle changes were in order! Something I started years ago for myself, as a type 2 diabetic, but I had never included Jess in the mix.

Foods much lower in fat and higher in carbs and fiber would have been introduced much more into  her  diet as well.

-Sitting in front of the television, and computer time would have been reduced from our usual norm, and exercise will become part of our  daily routine , as well as a fun part of our lives.

        We would get healthier together!

 Jessica had so much to learn and keep track of! It can be a little overwhelming at first, but the alternatives are a whole lot worse. Blindness and heart problems would not be a part of my baby's life for a long time, if ever ... not if I had anything to say about it.

-Treatment for Jessica's pre-diabetes and my type 2 include a lot of the same things, and diabetic meal plans are an important part, and include keeping track of their frequency and portion control. This is extremely important.

 More specifically the  carbohydrates , they are the main source of glucose and energy. Your doctor should establish how many carbs you can eat per day, and keep that amount constant throughout your  diet  and  exercise . ( Constant carb plan , both should be kept as constant as possible)

 -The American Diabetes Association recommends 50-60% of your daily calories, should come from carbohydrates.

Foods that are high in carbohydrates include: sugar, grains such as breads and cereals, and starchy foods like potatoes and pasta.

 They can also be found in dairy products as well as fruits and vegetables.

-This doesn't mean you can't have any starchy or sugary foods.

 Unfortunately it does mean  they should only be consumed occasionally. 

-This was the most difficult adjustment for me, and for Jessica. We both had a terrible sweet tooth, but no cookie is worth the harm diabetes can inflict. It's not worth our lives, limbs, blindness, or lapsing into a coma. (Or the embarrassment of passing out in public again, huh Jess?)

 The  glycemic index  (GI) can also be a very useful tool. Foods with a high GI can cause blood sugar to rise higher and faster than those with a lower GI, so knowing which ones are essential in our battle against diabetes.

-Additional treatment for Diabetes Type 2 includes exercise and monitoring your blood glucose level.

 -This is critical because; no two people with diabetes can consume the same foods with the same result, everyone is different.

 That means checking your blood glucose levels at least 5 times a day, and keeping track of it, and of carbs throughout the day (especially right after meals) and keeping records of what you've eaten, and your diabetes medication schedule.

-Whew! Definitely see your doctor for a specific diabetes plan that works best for you.

 All of this can feel a bit tedious at times, the diabetes warning signs can be a real pain, especially to a busy teenager dealing with work, school, and a social life, but not knowing your blood sugar is literally life and death for a diabetic. -We both have way too much to live for!

Sometimes I wonder though, how different our lives would have been if we had paid more attention to the diabetes warning signs. But believe it or not, 

Skiing with Jess after her diabetes diagnosis

In our case, diabetes turned out to be a good thing. 

Like so often in life, occasionally you just need to stop and smell the roses, and a  positive attitude  certainly helps too.

Now that Jess and I have come to terms with our diabetes, we're dealing with it, and it's actually brought us much closer.

We're best friends again.

We take walks together after supper, and other meals when possible. 

My good friend Kate also has a teenage daughter, the four of us go bike riding all the time now.

   Jess and I have even taken up skiing!

- Remember , when caught early, the diabetes warning signs  can  be reversed if you're willing to do a little work. (see vegetarian weight loss)

(Okay, it's a lot of work, but you're worth it, don't you think!)

 Do what Jessica and I did, put a  positive  spin on it. Look at it as a  very  good reason to lose some weight  (Jessica and I look better than ever), get in shape, and just maybe reconnect with someone  you  love, and have a lot of fun in the process!

.... And it  may  just prevent diabetes in the first place!

 Can a  ketogenic diet  help manage diabetes symptoms?

  -Is a  green smoothie Ketogenic?


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