Hi! My name is Denise AKA Aesthetic Diabetic. I’ve created this blog to focus on my health – both physically and mentally – and keep my blood sugar levels in the non-diabetic range, sharing what I learn along the way with whoever wants to be happy and healthy and reduce stress, which is the nemesis of good health. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes five years ago in what would be the shock of my life, it just wasn’t something I had ever thought I may be at risk of and here I was being told that I was diabetic at age 41.
Even the doctors were stumped, they said I just didn’t fit the profile.
Lucky me! I’m pretty sure I know why it happened, although it was a pretty unforgiving set of circumstances that wouldn’t have resulted in diabetes in others, but then again worse still could have happened, so you kind of have to roll with it and do the best you can with what you’ve got. My story goes like this: I got married, had a baby and moved to another country (Canada to the UK) where I had no family and no friends, all in less than a year. I had postnatal/postpartum depression and I didn’t know it. I knew something was very wrong but I didn’t know it was that. The thing with depression is, you haven’t had it before, so you don’t know what’s wrong exactly and therefore you can’t get treatment early enough to keep it from escalating to where life becomes hellish. Meds helped but made me gain weight. I got well, went off the meds (it wasn’t nearly as simple as that but I’m trying to move this along) but the damage from the extra 30lbs I gained – within just a few short months of being on the SSRIs! – was done. It’s not the kind of extra weight that causes diabetes in itself, but it was enough, when combined with the depression, and drinking that full sugar pop every day, to bring on Type 2 diabetes.
I wasn’t a smoker, I hardly drank and had previously been fit and healthy all of my life.
There’s also a genetic factor in there, my dad has it as did my grandmother, though both were diagnosed much later in life. But still, it all seemed really unfair. After the initial shock and despair and dealing with the fact that I no longer had the luxury of looking into my future and seeing whatever I wanted to imagine my later years would look like – I suddenly felt that I could only see diabetes dictating everything from that point forward – I decided I was not going to let it take over my life and I would do everything I could to open up my brain again beyond that disturbing tunnel vision this diagnosis had given me.
I got my blood sugar into the non-diabetic range after about six months without any medication. I exercised, but not insanely. Just consistently. I had immediately cut out sugary pop and have never looked back. I stayed away from most refined sugar, though it wasn’t a huge part of my diet already, beyond the pop. I did have treats, both sugary and savoury sometimes; I wasn’t living a miserable life of sacrifice. I felt better and I looked better.
The thing about the way you need to live as a diabetic, is that it’s the way you need to live a healthy life in any case, full stop.
There’s no special diet. No special routine. Eat sensibly. Know that sugar is indeed a threat to your health no matter who you are and keep your consumption of it under control. Move more. Manage your stress as best you can. That’s it.
Now, I want to be clear that it’s not that easy for everyone who has Type 2 Diabetes. And Type 1 diabetes is a different beast altogether – the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin. I was lucky, I was diagnosed within a few months of developing it. I know this because I’d had a blood test earlier in the year and my blood sugar levels were normal then. It was caught thanks to a diabetes screening program that the NHS had been running, unbeknownst to me, where whenever blood is analysed they check and record glucose levels. I had my blood tested because I had a chest infection that wasn’t clearing after 10 weeks, so the doctor wanted to check that everything was ok. We found out that it wasn’t. I feel I owe the NHS my life. Had my diabetes gone undiagnosed I would have only found out when damage was already done, and the problems caused by unmanaged diabetes are harrowing and irreversible. My heart goes out to the people who don’t have this kind of health care where they live. I’ve been so very lucky to have free access to health care in both countries I’ve lived and I never take it for granted, especially as its under imminent threat in the UK now thanks to a privatisation-driven government.
As it stands now, my diabetes team wanted to change my status to non-diabetic after a couple of years of consistent hba1c results in the non-diabetic range, but I requested I stay in the system as diabetic so that I would continue to be monitored, and they allowed it. I asked to have my blood checked every 6 months and they set my schedule to that. Once a year I have a diabetic retinal eye screening and an examination with the nurse. Writing this now, I realise again, how fortunate I am to be able to dictate my monitoring schedule in this way. This means if I slip, or if it starts to progress, I will know it quickly and can take action.
I can’t be complacent about my health, it requires daily commitment to stay well. It’s a constant challenge, so I’m here hoping we can help each other to stay on track, whatever it is we’re facing.
I’m interested in your stories if you’d like to share, you don’t have to be diabetic – anything that happened to you or someone close to you, physically, mentally, or both that has transformed your life to move you forward, to inspire others to do the same. Thanks for reading Aesthetic Diabetic – all suggestions for health topics are welcome!
♥ Denise “Aesthetic Diabetic”
P.S. The aesthetic part? I’m a design fanatic and an image maker and this informs the way I like to present content, which I hope helps deliver it in a pleasing, positive way. There’s also a lot of interesting wellbeing projects being explored by designers, particularly in The Netherlands, and we’ll look at those.
One thing this blog is not, is an attempt to ‘curate’ an idealised healthy lifestyle. That’s gross and unhelpful. This is real life.
I am using minimalist design and calming or uplifting colours. I want AD to be a clean, uncluttered place you can come to and feel good as soon as you land on the page. Take care of yourself every day, in some way.