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SeaNile

Is needing insulin and taking it that bad? Help me on this thought....

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I'm brand new to this being diagnosed with Type 1 just 5 days ago. Here is my quick bio...38 M, active, in shape with recent weight loss and now at 170. So I go for a physical and find my BG was 334 which got me a very prompt appt with the endo. 10 of Lantus at night and a sliding scale of Humalog for now. Doc wants me to check BG just 3x a day, before my meals but I'm taking it more frequently (8x today). Anyway, here is what I am curious about. And yes my diet was pretty much all carbs before this.

 

So, is taking insulin that bad? My body needs it to digest food, gain energy and use up my glucose. I am beginning to feel like checking my #'s is like classical conditioning....if the number is good I am happy, and if the number is bad I feel a bit bummed. It's almost like I could have done better and need to "try" harder to get my # down.

 

Is it that big of a deal that I need insulin? I'm not looking for an excuse to "cover" a huge carb binge with insulin but should I feel so bad if my # is high and need insulin? And also, I feel better when I need little insulin vs. more.

 

Anyone else feel like this?

 

John

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Not at all, John. If you need it, there is no argument against it. As you have been diagnosed type 1, lacking insulin, you need it. I know what you mean about the number thing, it seems crazy to let a number dictate your feelings, but I bet it's pretty common.

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In the context of a correction shot, to me that's like asking "is it bad to breath if I'm suffocating?" A fundamental goal is to keep your blood sugar levels where you want them, and insulin is likely to always be a major player for you in that aim. Overall, excessive use of insulin (internal or external) has links to issues such as weight gain and cvd. "Excessive use" is a tricky concept, because it seems that people (or at least diabetics) do vary wildly on what they actually need, unit for unit, and not just through such things as diet. There are things we can and can't control, and controlling such things as diet and method of taking insulin, and perhaps such things as weight loss or stress relief, are where reducing excessive insulin might come into play if you wish. But even then, you need to look at reductions in insulin through adapting the things that make you use insulin: not by withholding insulin when you need it.

 

Think of it like petrol/gas in a car. Let's say there are good reasons for being modest with your gas use (it might be that the car will last longer, need less servicing, or just that you want to cut down on pollution!). The way you go about using less gas is to modify your driving habits, which leads you to needing less gas. Different models might use gas at different rates, but all will have a more excessive use and a more modest use.

 

But if you are out driving and you are on empty and stranded, you won't question for a second that you need gas to get home again. Taking a correction is similar. Get your blood sugars normalised with whatever insulin you need. You can think about whether the correction might be avoided in the future, and possibly reduce your insulin use that way if you wish. But many of us certainly find corrections and hedging blood sugar around with insulin par for the course, even after we've gotten our diet, lifestyle etc, as we like it.

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Ok. Just to be sure you knew:).

Before you were diabetic, your body made its own insulin and dosed for itslef. However, when you became diabetic, the organ responsible for insulin production (the pancrius) stopped working. As a result, you have to take insulin threw a pen, suringe or pump. It is a normal thing to do cause it is what your body was doing for itself.

With reguards to feling better when you need les insulin.

From the way you talked, it seemed as if whn you need less insulin your levels are more under control at that time. Better sugar levels=feeling better. Come back2the forums when you need mor information-theirs somethin9g about talking to other diabetics that a non-d doctor just can't give.

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Check out Dr. Richard K. Bernstein's book, The Diabetes Solution. It will help you to balance your insulin needs with your diet.

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I LOVE getting to use insulin -- after waiting 2 yrs to get rapid -- the control feels like a privilege and luxury! I am grateful for the chance to learn how to eat low carb, first, but ... IT WAS SO FRUSTRATING, seeing those high postmeal numbers and having nothing to treat them with!

 

Of course caution is warranted, but I have been cautious, my weight is stable, and I feel pretty good!

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You my friend are in the fast lane for diabetes burn out.

Burn out is when you get so frustrated with your condition that you quit dealing with it.

Personaly I don't think I can afford to quit dealing with my diabetes so I try pretty hard to avoid burn out.

When test I think of the numbers as road signs rather than indicators of my worth.

Road signs help me find my way. If my number is higher than I want I deal with that first. Typicaly by taking more insulin. Then I might try to find the reason so that I can avoid that in the future.

I try real hard NOT to let a high number affect me emotionaly.

Feeling bad about a road sign is silly. Feeling bad about a high number doesn't help me deal with it right now OR find ways to prevent it later.

Feeling bad has in the past pushed me into burn out. I can't afford burn out.

Keep in mind as you go forward that sometimes you may be able to find ways, diet, exercise, timing etc. to prevent those high numbers without taking more insulin. Unless you are very fortunate though, there will be other times when those numbers will happen for no reason that you can find. Diabetes is like that for many of us. Read the signs. Deal with the numbers and move on.

Don't let them drag you down.

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Despite having a LADA diagnosis, which indicates sooner insulin dependence, an even though I aggressively pursued insulin, I felt a certain letdown or sense of failure, starting insulin. But getting my first lower A1c was a HUGE help with that.

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Good on you to be checking your blood sugars before and after meals. Having both pre and postprandial numbers are critical to learning how carbs and insulin will be working with you.

 

Every living organism of sufficient complexity needs insulin. So needing insulin isn't bad, it's just a fact of how things work. There are some good arguments that needing excessive amounts of insulin is associated with bad outcomes -- excess weight, insulin resistance, etc, but even those potentially bad outcomes don't take away the fact all of us need insulin to survive.

 

About the results you'll see. Like all of us, you'll end up with days where things are almost magical. I had one of those last Friday, my lowest result was 72 and my highest was 124. Everything was perfect that day. The prior 2 days, each day I had readings of 211 in the late afternoon. No sense in getting fussed over that, I knew why it had happened, from eating way too much pepperoni, I just dealt with it by doing corrective boluses and moving on to the next day.

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John, using insulin when you need it is not bad or wrong...it's essential. You're only a week into this, so it would not be particularly surprising if your blood sugar is fluctuating more than you'd like. Give yourself some time to get used to the new routine and don't sweat the occasional high. If the highs become a regluar issue, it's time to take a look at your insulin doses, both basal and bolus. Did you ever get the book(s) that were recommended?

 

As for your doctor telling you to test 3 times a day??? Bunk. A T1 needs to test more than that - it's the only feedback you get about the success of your insulin use. Undetected highs will thwart your progress and undetected lows can lead to trouble. Here's my regular test schedule:

 

On waking (I experience dawn phenomenon and usually need a small bolus to correct my BG first thing in the a.m.) 1 test

Before any meal or snack (I don't usually find the need for snacks. If I'm a higher than I'd like I include a little correction bolus with my meal bolus) minimally 3 tests

2 hours after eating meals (to make sure I didn't underestmate carbs and misbolus. Again, if higher than experience says I should be, I do a tiny correction) 3 tests

Before bed 1 test

 

OK - that's a minumim of 8

 

Very important also - test if you start to feel shakey or fuzzy headed, you may be haveing a hypo. It's good to test before driving (I don't always do this), or before exercise. As you can see, three just doesn't cut it!

 

Jen

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Check out Dr. Richard K. Bernstein's book, The Diabetes Solution. It will help you to balance your insulin needs with your diet.

 

That book, interesting as it is, leaves me out in the cold multiple times with inaccurate and inconsistent advice on insulin taking. I say approach with caution, for a newbie type 1. If you are looking for solid, flexible and highly scalable methods to insulin usage, whatever your diet, you can't go past either Using Insulin by John Walsh, or Think Like a Pancreas by Gary Sheiner. It is these tools that will put you in very good stead to have things under control, and continue to remain under control, if you decide to modify your diet. Bernstein is more of a "my way or the highway" approach (and even then as I said, has strange inconsistencies for me, some of which are quite important). It would be a shame to go a "my way" before you learn to drive so that you are right for any road you choose, in my opinion.

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As for your doctor telling you to test 3 times a day??? Bunk. A T1 needs to test more than that - it's the only feedback you get about the success of your insulin use. Undetected highs will thwart your progress and undetected lows can lead to trouble. Here's my regular test schedule:

 

On waking (I experience dawn phenomenon and usually need a small bolus to correct my BG first thing in the a.m.) 1 test

Before any meal or snack (I don't usually find the need for snacks. If I'm a higher than I'd like I include a little correction bolus with my meal bolus) minimally 3 tests

2 hours after eating meals (to make sure I didn't underestmate carbs and misbolus. Again, if higher than experience says I should be, I do a tiny correction) 3 tests

Before bed 1 test

 

OK - that's a minumim of 8

 

Very important also - test if you start to feel shakey or fuzzy headed, you may be haveing a hypo. It's good to test before driving (I don't always do this), or before exercise. As you can see, three just doesn't cut it!

 

Good catch Jen. If a doc pushes for a T1 to only test 3 times - please change your doctor. That is inadequate for good control, at the very least for gaining good control and understanding of your situation, and suggests an outdated and obstructive attitude.

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Hi John,

I want to emphasize what others have already said: Heck no, insulin is the furthest thin from bad you can find for a Type 1!

 

I think you are ahead of yourself. It sounds like you are doing things correctly for now. There is a controversy, even on this board betweeen people who believe you can take too much insulin and people who eat anything they want (tons of sweets, empty cabs) and take the insulin to correct it.

 

The controversy comes from which research you use as a base for your diabetes diet. Unless you are a very active athelete, eating more carbs leads to taking more insulin. This (simply) produces more simple sugars in your body on their way to being metabolized. The larger the amount of simple sugars bieng processed by your body, the more chances that they might do harm during the glycation part of the metabolism process. The last step in glycation is the process that causes aging.

 

Now, if I haven't thoroughly confused you (an me) yet: Diabetes could be called a process of premature aging, primarily because our bodies don't always handle the sugar perfectly and we have high blood glucose now and then. The more insulin and carb, the higher our chances of having things go awry, so some take the approach of "fewer carbs, smaller insulin doses, less glycation".

 

It is an individual choice in how you handle your diabetes.

 

Mich

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Now that is the stuff I was looking for. I knew there had to be some correlation between eating a lot of carbs and covering with insulin.

 

I stopped at 2 different book stores and neither had the recommended books. Looks like I will be ordering them tonight via amazon.

 

I've noticed with each day passing my BG is lower and lower. 106 this am and 103 now before lunch. Aside from the numbers being better I feel better, eating better and exercising more. Now that has to be good for me.

 

Thanks again. What a great site!!

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I am beginning to feel like checking my #'s is like classical conditioning....if the number is good I am happy, and if the number is bad I feel a bit bummed. It's almost like I could have done better and need to "try" harder to get my # down.

 

Is it that big of a deal that I need insulin? I'm not looking for an excuse to "cover" a huge carb binge with insulin but should I feel so bad if my # is high and need insulin?

 

 

Hi John,

 

I get what you are saying here - honestly a lot of us spend a lot of time feeling bad or guilty for having a high blood sugar. The best thing you can do for your physical (and mental) health is take the self-judgement out of checking your blood sugar. If you are high you are not a bad person, nor did you fail - you just need to take some insulin to fix the problem.

 

You can spend time thinking about what caused the high and how to avoid that same problem in the future - but don't blame yourself! It is a wild ride - and this is an endurance sport - not a sprint, so save your energy for the things that matter (testing and correcting) and don't waste it on the things that don't (beating yourself up over the results).

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In the 16 years of my diabetic lifestyle I have never felt bad about having a high Bg. This is how I look at it. My body doesn't work right and I have to use outside devices and meal planning to keep my sugars down. I'm not a robot nor redicously anal so I do make mistakes from time to time and I'm good with that. I have also had this disease since I was 13 and I also have the type of personality where if I can't control something (my pancreas making insulin) then what's the point of getting bent out of shape about it. My pancreas will NEVER make insulin by me getting angry at it.

 

So in the end we must embrace out offliction and control it as best we can. We will have good days and we will have bad days but such is life and that will never change. Diabetic or not.

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