A Lifetime of Never Forgetting
As I was walking with my number one motivator and companion Kahlúa I thought to myself having diabetes means a lifetime of never forgetting about it. You wake in the morning, and the first thing you do is poke yourself with a lancet and measure your morning sugar. Your next actions are guided by the flashing number on the blood sugar meter. This palm-sized electronic device guides every part of your routine for the day. Another stick at lunch, one before dinner, and one before bed. Living with diabetes and maintaining a healthy blood sugar requires an individual to be proactive in monitoring their blood sugars for the remainder of their life.
The repeated small blood draws and associated meter readings provide the information needed to adjust carbohydrate consumption along with the proper insulin doses one must take to keep blood sugars in a healthy range. Losing the envelope on maintaining this routine even for a day can cause wild variations on sugar levels. Any lack of diligence by myself on routine monitoring can result in overall physical and mental states that are shaped by the highs and lows of blood sugar levels. When my sugars are too high, I become drowsy and feel as if I could fall asleep standing up. If the sugars are too low, I begin to sweat bullets from my forehead, get the shakes, and become anxious. Allowing my sugars to drop below 60 mg/dl I start to get disoriented and fall into almost a trance-like state not realizing what I am doing and how I am relating to the world around me.
On the few occasions over the past two decades that I have injected with too much insulin or not taken the time to eat at a prescribed time, I have become susceptible to this trance. Fortunately, none of these episodes have ever resulted in passing out, but I have become disoriented enough that I lose a segment of time not being able to remember what I was doing at those hypoglycemic moments. If you do not have diabetes and have never experienced this condition take it from me, it sucks.
Despite the possibility of having such episodes, it is still challenging to keep up a routine of poke and stick yourself several times a day. Dropping your guard and allowing yourself to succumb to your cravings for carbohydrates or restarting bad habits associated with inadequate dietary intake can cause you to fall victim to hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. Either way, it’s not a good thing.
Apprehension Over Change
A year and a half ago I had a candid and straightforward discussion with my General Practitioner on this subject, and he referred me to an Endocrinologist to help me better control my sugar levels. Seeing a medical specialist that understands the disease, your needs, and your concerns with the illness can be a game changer. Several months ago my then Endo Specialist retired, and a new Specialist was assigned to me, I was apprehensive at first because I was getting good control of my sugars and now, I was starting over with a new individual. Remember, every day is a regimented routine of food intake and glucose monitoring. So, when you have any changes that can impact your routine, you become concerned about how the change will affect your health.
In my case having a new Endo Doc to treat me has been one of the most significant improvements I have had in years with the disease. She suggested we modify my treatment options and prescribed Jardiance (25 mg) and once a week injection of Ozempic. The Jardiance eliminates excess sugars in your blood by filtering it through your kidneys and passing it out in your urine while Ozempic helps your body release its own insulin thereby reducing your need to take so many insulin shots.
The Guinea Pig
As I have decided to write on this subject to assist others with the same condition, I thought I could also be a Guinea Pig for you folks. I will continue to share my own experiences with trying new medicines, dietary changes, and exercise routines. Or anything else that I find helps keep this disease at bay.
I started on the Ozempic 8 weeks ago. The first four weeks consisted of taking a single injection of .25 mg once a week. The dose is then increased after the first four weeks to a .50 mg injection once a week for two weeks. The final incremental increase and maintenance dose is a 1 mg injection each week. There are a number of listed possible side effects with Ozempic as there are with any medication or substance you introduce into your body. One of the most common side effects listed is nausea and abdominal pain, hence the need for incremental increases in the dosage for users to allow them to tolerate the medication over time.
My initial experience with Ozempic has been a positive one. I did have some nausea and minor abdominal discomfort when I first began the medication. On the upside, I have seen my blood sugars stabilize, and I am no longer injecting insulin 4 to 5 times a day. I take a single insulin injection in the morning, and as long as I monitor my carbohydrate intake not exceeding 60 carbs per meal, I no longer must take insulins shots throughout the day. I still have a bit of abdominal discomfort, but it is minimal and seems to alleviate food cravings and overindulging. Allow me to elaborate. If I eat to the point of being full or excessively full, the medication seems to magnify this feeling, and I get somewhat nauseous. Wanting to avoid this feeling my brain seems to remind me to stop eating and that I am satiated. I wish I could provide a better description, but that is how it feels to me.
A second side benefits that many diabetics experience is weight loss. The manufacturer promotes this side effect in its advertising campaigns as a positive outcome for most users. After eight weeks of use of this drug, I can say that this is a true statement. If you are not overweight, this may be a negative, but for me, it has been a positive experience. I have lost 15 pounds since beginning injections of Ozempic and couldn’t be more pleased. I look forward to my shot because the first 4 to 5 days follow with reduced appetite and lower blood sugar readings throughout the day. As I come to the 6th and 7th day after the injection, I do notice that I must work a little harder to constrain my appetite and also see somewhat elevated blood sugars first thing in the morning. Even with this decreased effect later in the week after an injection I still have a significant lowering of my morning blood sugar. I have always had dawn syndrome where my sugars are elevated as much as 200 mg/dl in the AM. Ozempic has alleviated this problem, and my sugars are now in the 110 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl range. As long as I do no heavy snacking after dinner or before bedtime.
My Personal Experience
When my Endocrinologist recommended, I try this medication she noted it would be important to monitor my blood sugars and maintain records on the data. Her stated goal to me was to treat my diabetes with this medication in anticipation of being able to remove myself from insulin altogether. I entered into this trial with limited expectations because I have been on insulin for years and did not think I will ever be able to stop taking the injections. I am entering my 8th week of taking this medication, and the results have been significant. The gradual weight loss of 2 pounds a week and the control I have over my appetite leads me to believe that her suggested goal may be attainable.
I am not saying this is a wonder drug or that everyone will get the same results that I have experienced. What I do know is that it has renewed my hope that one day I will be insulin free, or at least limiting my insulin injections to once a day. Either way to me that’s a win, win for my team.
Thanks to an experienced and knowledgeable medical professional, who has my well-being at heart, I have rekindled hope that I can lower weight and maintain a healthy blood sugar level with minimal use of insulin. Time will tell if this new medication will bring me closer to being insulin free. Something I thought not possible two months ago.
If anyone else is on this medication, please share your experience and leave a comment so that others may have the benefit of your personal experience with Ozempic. I would love to hear from you!
I hope you enjoyed the story and it was worth the read. If you have an environmental or business question, I can assist you with; please feel free to connect with me: