I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease at the same time in 2000. I couldn’t recall now what my reaction was when the doctor told this to me, but I guess I was surprised. Surprised I was because apart from the hard to breathe episode that I experienced about two days before I went to the doctor for a checkup, I couldn’t remember feeling anything that would indicate that I had diabetes and it was causing my heart to become diseased.
As I recall, my highest blood pressure reading was 180/130 or thereabouts. However, I have no recollection of what my blood sugar level reading was back then but I do remember going to a clinic one time to have it tested and the nurse told me it was high. How high I don’t really know. I didn’t care because I did not feel ill at all. Even when they told me I should check my blood pressure, I still continued with my unhealthy diet, sedentary life style and worse, smoking. I was kind of proud actually thinking that even as my blood sugar was high and my blood pressure too, I wasn’t feeling sick and I did not experience anything bad or life threatening. Little did I know that diabetes and heart disease were already lurking within my body, just waiting for the right time to manifest themselves.
The signs and symptoms were there although I chose to ignore them. Looking back, I should have known that my feelings and behavior exhibited classic symptoms hyperglycemia, a blood sugar imbalance where blood sugar is high. Now, I am suffering the consequences of that ignorance.
In type 2 diabetes, blood sugar levels slowly rise so that the symptoms develop throughout the years or they may not show at all. In my case, the signs and symptoms that I concretely remember were my repeated trips to the bathroom, frequent thirst, and fatigue. I would wake up several times at night with the urge to urinate but I associated it with the glass of water I drank before going to bed. During the day, I remember that I needed to drink water a lot although I thought it was only because of the heat. I was easily tired but I thought it was only because I lacked exercise. It’s true what medical books say about diabetes. The signs I ignored developed gradually on me so I tended to overlook them.
I have an automatic blood pressure monitor at home that I can use. It was a gift from a cousin who lives in California. I also have a blood sugar monitor that I do not use because that thing where you have to put the blood on is quite expensive here in the Philippines and I rather spend my money on medicines. Instead, I usually go and have an Hba1c test every three months, which doctors say is more reliable in indicating whether I am controlling my diabetes or not.
There is no cure for diabetes; you can only control and manage it by medication, proper diet and exercise. Without these three things, untreated or poorly managed diabetes can lead to further serious and life-long complications. My heart disease was exacerbated by diabetes and until now, I am still battling against both on a daily basis.