My Best A1C Results In 43 Years Of Diabetes!!!

hba1c-a1c-glycosated-glycated-hemoglobinLast Thursday the 19th of December, 2013, I went to my follow-up appointment with my nurse practioner (NP) after having blood work done the previous week. I got lots of tests done, but was most eager to get my A1C results.  I got lipids, c-protein, full metabolic panel, kidney test, and my A1C.  If you’re not diabetic, and don’t know what the HbA1c or A1C is, they are 2 different names for a test that measures the average blood glucose for the last 90 days.  Old school diabetics call it HbA1c, and new school call it A1C.  The goal for most diabetics is to have a number under 7.  This is how diabetics measure their control.

I’ve been what’s called a brittle diabetic all my life.  Meaning that my blood sugars have no pattern, and jump from high, to low, to high, to low constantly.  You get the picture, right?  2 years ago, before I became a diabetes advocate, my A1C was 11.4.  Most of my life I’ve been above 10.  With lots of work, determination, and education, it’s been 8.2 or 8.4 for most of 2013.  I’ve been working SO DAMN HARD at getting that below 8, and I just could not crack that barrier.

For a year now, I’ve had a Dexcom G4, which has been helping tremendously.  My former CDE (who I’m still friends with), and my new nurse practioner (NP), understand how to decode those reports to adjust my pump settings, and fine tune my control.  My pump’s config is more complex than it ever has been, and so is my control.  I actually understand some of those Dexcom reports now.

When I started seeing the NP in August, after explaining my history, she set a goal of 7.5 for me.  MY goal was just to crack the 8 barrier.  I wear my Dexcom 24/7, because I feel naked without it, and when I took the 90 day average blood glucose from that and converted it to A1C, it said 7.7, which I was super happy for.  When the NP came in with my A1C results and said “you’re gonna be happy, because I am”, I was a little surprised to hear her say it was 7.4!!!  I didn’t show much emotion other than satisfaction at the time, but when I walked down the hall my smile was from ear to ear, and I got butterflies.  As I got into the car, and started thinking about how freaking hard I’ve been working to get this damn A1C into good control, I got a lump in my throat and tears welled up in my eyes.

I have the paleo lifestyle (specifically author Robb Wolf, who responds to messages from nobody’s like me),Team Beachbody, Tavia Vital (CDE) and Brenda Borkgren (NP), and the diabetic online community (#doc) to thank for the best A1C of my entire life.  When I became a Beachbody coach, and then  later when I discovered the #doc and started blogging, people started treating me like a diabetes advocate.  So as a Beachbody coach and an advocate, I felt a strong responsibility to get my A1C into control, so I could set a good example.  So thanks everybody!  Now I have a new goal to break the 7.0 barrier.  Since a goal without a deadline is just a dream, I give myself the deadline of April 1st, 2014.  Wish me luck?!!

Disappointing A1C Results

A1C NowI very rarely get depressed, but I think I’m depressed right now. I also normally don’t tell anybody when I’m depressed, or especially why I’m depressed. I feel a responsibility to my readers about this though, and to the diabetes online community who’ve supported me. So here goes . . .

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I’ve had some problems with my endocrinology office. I had another problem yesterday when I called to get my A1C results. It had been a full week since my blood was drawn, which should have been plenty of time for records to be passed back and forth, and the office had no record of me even ordering the test. *sigh* So the lady on the phone said she’d dig for it and get back to me by end of day. (That’s 6 hours from when I called her.) I didn’t expect her to, and she didn’t. So I called again this morning. I was put on eternal hold and I decided to hang up, and get in their face at the office. Drove to the office, and they were closed on Tuesdays, so who was I talking to earlier?! Walked across the building to the lab, explained that my endo’s office is clueless, and they gave me my results without any incident. Score 1 for finding a workaround.

Now, the results don’t make any sense to me. 2 weeks ago, I used the Bayer A1C home test kit, and it said my A1C was 7.6, and today it says my A1C is 7.3, but the lab test says 8.4? WTH?! I’ve seen conflicting blogs and stories about it’s accuracy. Some say it’s spot on, and some say it’s horrible. I don’t know what to believe. If I go by my 30 day average on my meter for the last few months (always under 170), I should be at or near an A1C of 7.5. I’m telling myself that it’s the lab results that are wrong.

Plus, I don’t see how I can have an HDL cholesterol of 74, with no changes to diet, exercise, medication. The only thing I changed was adding a rather expensive CoQ10 supplement. Could that have raised my HDL that high? I knew it would raise it some, but didn’t expect that much. The highest HDL I’ve ever recorded previous to this was a 54, and exercised more intensely then. My triglycerides are 43, my LDL is 182 (I know it’s high), and my ratio is still ideal at 3.58.

Now the day I went in for the blood draw, the orders were messed up and had to be corrected, the phlebotomist was new and confused, and I nearly asked for someone else, but everybody is new and needs to learn, so I didn’t. I’m wondering if in all this damn confusion, did either the tests get skewed or did they mix up my blood with someone elses, because my results don’t make any sense.

My appointment with my endo next week will be my last. I drove straight to my primary care doctors office after leaving the lab, to ask if they are able to order assistance for me from the diabetes educator that I won’t give up. They’re going to see if they can do it, so I can continue getting her assistance. I’ll be looking for a new endo in Iowa City, which is 60-70 miles away.

The sun has come out here, thank god, so maybe I’ll try to cheer myself up by driving a few miles down the river to see the bald eagles. Nature has always been my shrink. If I don’t I’m just going to want to cover my head and crawl into a hole. I just kinda feel lost right now. I have a great deal of other stresses right now too, so I was looking forward to this number being a good number. Now I feel beaten. *sigh*

Don’t Sign That Form!

medicalform copyYesterday I called my doctors office to order an A1C test before my appointment in a couple weeks.  I asked them to call it in to the lab.  I get to the lab today, rather excited to get my blood test (the first time I’ve been excited about it in my life), and when the obviously new phlebotomist put that piece of paper in front of me and asked me to sign it, there was no A1C on the form.  I told the girl that I was here for an A1C, not a lipid profile, and asked her if any of these abbreviations represent an A1C.  She had to ask, but they didn’t.  So, . . . . . I handed her the pen and the un-signed form and told her I’d come back after talking to the doctors office.  Then another nurse told me the office was closed for lunch.  WTH?!

I’m writing this article because I feel it’s important to convey to you that you not only have the right not to accept treatment, but you have a responsibility to take control of your own health.  Don’t just sign every form your doctor or nurse asks you to.  READ IT.  If I had not read it, they would have done a lipid profile, and I would’ve had to come back another day to get my A1C, never having known that they screwed up until I went to my doctor appointment.  Lucky for me, my diabetes educator, who I’ve kinda become friends with, was in the next room and she helped by calling the doctors super secret back door phone number.  She was able to reach the office, and got the order fixed to include an A1C, so I didn’t have to come back.

I argue with doctors, nurses, assistants, all the time when they say things I disagree with.  It’s “MY HEALTH”, and I don’t trust these people because they’re always screwing up.  My educator is freaking awesome though, so I’m lucky about that, plus she’s type 1 so she actually gets it.  I’m trying to encourage you to say NO when they say something that doesn’t sound right, and to take your insurance money to another doctor’s office if you don’t trust them.

I once changed doctors in the same office, for a really strange reason.  I was new to this cardiology office, and the default doctor assigned by my insurance I didn’t care for.  A short time later, I had an appendicitis and landed in the ER.  The cardiologist on duty that night who came to approve my heart for surgery to remove my apendix, was named Dr. Davis.  When I quoted Motley Crue (Dr. Davis, telephone please?) from Dr. Feelgood, she told me what a huge fan of Motley Crue she was and started telling me about how many concerts she’s been to.  She was in the same office as the first doctor, and I switched to her right after my surgery.  The first doctor even confronted me about it at my next appointment.  I knew there was a reason I didn’t like her.  You have the right to give your insurance companies money to someone else.  The next time your doctor says something or suggests something you disagree with, you’re going to remember this article, and you’re going to have the confidence to disagree out loud.  Kia Kaha!!!


Hypoglycemia Symptoms With Normal Blood Sugars

photoCANM2EOXHave you ever had hypoglycemia symptoms, but when you check your blood sugar, you’re completely normal?  So then you wait 20 minutes, check again, and you’re blood sugar hasn’t changed.  Yet you still feel hypoglycemic?  It’s kind of a phantom hypo.  Yeah, I have too.  Annoying right?

Recently I’ve seen a lot of tweets that people were experiencing this syndrome, and could not explain it.  Then suddenly it happened to me a few times in a few days.  It’s happened to me before, if only rarely, but all of this chatter about it made me want to know what the heck is going on.  When we ARE hypoglycemic, we know what to do to correct it, but what are we suppose to do when we have symptoms, and we ARE NOT hypoglycemic?  I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather deal with high blood sugar than low blood sugar.  High blood sugar affects my body, which I can deal with, but low blood sugar affects my mind, and I can’t handle losing my mind.  So I needed to know how to fix this.

Well, I think I’ve found the answer.  Everybody’s symptoms of a hypo are different, and mine even change every so often.  So I went looking for my symptoms on the web, and kept finding the same thing over and over.  A combination of dehydration, and low electrolytes.  My last post was specifically about the spiraling hole that dehydration can cause for a diabetic, and the importance of correcting it.  What are the symptoms of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance?  They’re almost the same, and include but are not limited to:

  • Irritability
  • Light Headedness
  • Mental Confusion
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Weakness or Fatigue
  • Irregular Heartbeat

Do those symptoms look familiar?  Looks like hypo symptoms for most people right?  So what if our phantom hypo is really dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance?  Well, I tested this theory.  Last week, when I had my last phantom hypo, and I started researching all this stuff, I reached for my carb free protein powder, which has a good dose of electrolytes in it.  I mixed up a shake, gulped it down, and 15 minutes later my symptoms were gone!  Now, I’m not saying this is definitive by any means, but I’d recommend you go ask your educator or endocrynologist about this.

Some of my favorite foods that are high in electrolytes are bananas, avocados, leafy greens,  some fish, some seeds, and more.   There are many sports electrolyte drinks out there, but I don’t recommend them because they are have carbs.  There are also things like Emergen C Electrolytes, and Pedialyte, but I think they have carbs too?

So the next time you have phantom hypo symptoms with a normal blood sugar, you might be low on electrolytes?  Again, please ask your endocrinologist or diabetes educator about this before taking action.


********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!!! **********

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Blood Sugars Below 250

I think I got my first glucometer in my early teen years.  Before that, I peed on a paper test strip that measured sugar in my urine.  I don’t really remember how often I checked my blood sugar back then.  I know it wasn’t very often though.  Didn’t check it very often in my early adult life either.  Just kinda checked it maybe once or twice a day, took my Lantus and Regular insulin shots, and lived a rather normal life, without concern for my diabetes.  Never got A1C tests, never had an endo, just family doctors.  In my early 20’s one of those family doctors told me that the life expectancy of a type 1 diabetic was only 26 years.  I believed that for some stupid reason, and didn’t expect to have a 30th birthday.  When I reached my 30th birthday, I didn’t know what do with my life?!  Then I suffered cardiac arrest, at age 34, from undiagnosed heart disease cause by my uncontrolled diabetes.  Emergency quad bypass.  Healed quickly, recovered quickly.  After that, I started testing frequently.  Started living a different lifestyle.  Started exercising . . . . . . a lot.  Hung out with bodybuilders.  Started realizing just how out of control I was.  Started working my ass off trying to get healthy.

2 years ago I started trying to help others as a sort of health coach, which motivated me to try even harder at becoming healthier myself, and about 9 months ago I discovered the Paleo lifestyle, which has brought my A1C down by 2.5 points in just 6 months time.  I also discovered the Diabetic Online Community (#doc) about 9 months ago.  Having all of you from the #doc to talk to has really motivated me too.  Recently, I realized that I used to be satisfied with a blood sugar below 250, then it was 200.  Now I want it below 100 or I get annoyed.  I’m shooting for an A1C of 7.0 before the end of the year.  I wanna do what they say can’t be done.  There’s a long way to go, and a short time to get there.  (Anybody catch that?)

So do you remember when you were satisfied with blood sugars below 250 or 200?  If you’re sugars are still there regulary, I urge you to somehow find the motivation to fix that.  Connect with me, and I’ll connect you to the people of the #doc.  I’ll recommend good books for you to read, recommend supportive peeps and friends to connect with.  We can all help each other.  I don’t want what happened to me, to happen to you.  Dying sucks!  I speak from experience.  Please leave a comment if you can relate.



********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!!! **********

If you found this article helpful, please give it a LIKE and share it with others who might benefit from it.  Thanks for paying it forward!  If you’d like to connect with me, you’ll find my social networking profiles to the right:  ————————>

Paleo is helping my diabetes!

I’m happy to report that the paleo lifestyle has helped me to improve my hemoglobin A1C by 2.5 points in 6 months!  This is huge for me!  Just like many type 1 diabetics I ride the blood sugar rollercoaster, and even though I try to help diabetics by blogging, YouTubing, posting daily motivation and tips, I struggle just like you all do.  I’m going to admit now, for the first time, what my A1C was back in March when I started on my paleo journey.  My A1C was 11.4.  Shocking right?  Now it’s 8.9.  The lowest I can remember actually.  For those who are not diabetic, that number is suppose to be under 7 for good control of diabetes.  Being diabetic for 42 years makes it really challenging to get that darn number down where it belongs, but getting it this low, that quick, has me motivated to get it down to 7.5 by years end!

The only thing I changed back in March, was starting to live paleo.  I’ve always worked out regularly, so I’m not really accounting my exercise in this improvement.  I’m probably about 70% paleo overall, but at home I’m 100% paleo.  My home no longer has any processed foods that come in a box, can, or sack.  I buy whole foods (fruits and lots of veggies), a little frozen veggies for convenience and storage time, lots of meat, no dairy, and lots of olive and coconut oil.  I cook a lot now, which means I do a lot more dishes than I want to, but it’s been worth it.  If I only had a garbage disposal and dishwasher!  I have a friend that does house cleaning.  I wonder what her rates are?  :)  Anyway, back on track, I started doing something where each time I’d go to the grocery store, I’d buy a fruit or vegetable I’ve never tried before.  I discovered I like a lot of things I’ve never tried before!  Like . . . OMG . . . KALE!!!  Kale fried in coconut oil is like health candy, and I think I might overdo it sometimes?  LOL!  I’d never tried kale until I started paleo.

I used to live on cereals, tv dinners, potato chips, cookies, microwavable meals, fast food, pizza, etc.  Then I discovered paleo.  Now I call myself a paleobetic, because I’ll be paleo for life.

What is paleo and why has it helped?  Paleo is a lifestyle.  It’s pretty simple, eat like our hunter gatherer ancestors, exercise like them, get outdoors, and reduce your carbs.  Most people these days eat anywhere between 200-300 carbs a day, and a some eat even more!  On paleo I’ve been averaging around 100 carbs a day.  I tried the low carb (30<) thing, but that led to some diabetic challenges.  Be very careful doing low carb as a type 1 diabetic.

You can find my favorite blogs, websites, and YouTube channels, about paleo and primal living in the column to the right.  What got me started down this path was a movie called Fat Head.  Seeing that movie caused me to go out and buy “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf, and “The Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson.  I read those faster than I’ve ever read a book before.  Then I started doing research online and found the online paleo community.

I’d like to take this moment to personally thank Robb Wolf, for answering questions for me in your podcast, replying to my Facebook messages, and for your leadership in the paleo community.  Robb, your accessibility to an average guy like me is  . . . well, awesome.  Thanks man.

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