Any long term reader of my blog is probably aware that I was diagnosed earlier this year with prediabetes. Bloods drawn during a routine health check found that I have slightly elevated blood glucose levels, and a glucose tolerance test confirmed the suspicions that I was on my way to developing diabetes.
I was referred to an endocrinologist, who straight away realised that I didn’t belong to the typical grouping for developing Type 2 diabetes. I’m not obese, I was relatively active and didn’t have a terrible diet. It still is possible to develop the insulin resistance of Type 2 while being healthy and active, but it still warranted further investigation.
During the weeks between getting blood taken for the anti-GAD antibodies test which would reveal the nature of my diabetes, I fretted and worried and wondered. Would a diagnosis of Type 2 be better as it can be very easily managed and possibly reversed with a low-carb diet if caught early enough? Perhaps Type 1 would be a better diagnosis as I have already seen the daily management of Type 1 with insulin and carb-counting, and that seems more manageable than never being able to eat cake again. Then again, I hate needles… absolutely dread them. I may not have had many thoughts about diabetes at the time which were not filled with panic and worry.
Back at my endocrinologist’s office, I learned that the test for anti-GAD antibodies came back strongly positive. This means that the insulin producing islet cells in my pancreas are currently having the crap beaten out of them by my immune system. Gradually over the next few months and years, my insulin production will slow down and eventually stop, leaving me dependent on regular injections of insulin. There is no treatment which can stop this process.
This particular variant of diabetes is known as Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults, or LADA. Sometimes it is referred to Type 1.5, as there also is a tendency towards insulin resistance with us LADA’s.
For now, there is no real medical treatment. It’s a game of wait and see when the numbers start to change- when my HbA1C starts to rise, when my pre-meal blood glucose levels go into double digits, when I start feeling exhausted and thirsty, and need to pee all the time. For now, there is only management- dietary changes and lifestyle changes to ensure my body can use the insulin it can produce as effectively as possible.
It is a bit of a mind-fuck knowing that one of your organs is not going to work properly sometime in the near future. I know the process of learning how to manage blood sugars, counting carbs and finding the right insulin therapy is difficult and stressful. We don’t know where this diagnosis leaves our plan for emigrating as the Long Term Illness Scheme in Ireland covers the mind-bogglingly expensive cost of insulin and testing supplies. And, did I mention I hate needles?
The biggest problem is that at the moment, there are more questions than answers. I guess everyone who receives a diagnosis of a long-term illness feels this way. There’s no conclusive evidence to answer the ‘why do I have this disease’ question, and only long term, daily monitoring will answer the when questions. All I can do is wait.