Mike’s Story

A Change in Diabetes Labels

On January 25, 2016, I met with a new endocrinologist.  During that visit, the doctor reviewed recent test results that indicated that I was positive for GAD65 antibodies associated with type 1 diabetes, as well as insulin resistance associated with type 2 diabetes.  In reviewing my medical records, the doctor found test results that the GAD65 antibodies were present at the time of my original diagnosis.  This troubling discovery suggested that I had been misdiagnosed.  My endocrinologist believed that I was actually dealing with LADA or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults.  After more tests were done to confirm the suspicions, my diagnosis was officially changed to LADA on April 21, 2016.

While my diabetes label may have changed, my desire to help people living with all types of diabetes has not waned.  If anything, the change is motivation to do more to ensure people are receiving a correct diagnosis, and proper education and treatment that meets the individual’s needs.

Original Diagnosis

I was originally diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes on Dec. 29, 2008, and Congestive Heart Failure on December 30, 2008.  The road to each diagnosis began about a month earlier.

I initially went to the doctor for what I thought was a yeast infection.  Turns out I was right, and given my weight, family history, and some other factors, the doctor suspected that I might be diabetic.  My blood pressure was rather high at the time, too.  Again, given family history, weight, etc…, the doctor decided to order a battery of tests to check the condition of my heart as well. So, after a month of testing, waiting, and worrying about what could possibly be wrong with me, my doctor called me in to share all of the results.

My A1C at diagnosis was 9.6.  My heart was functioning at 30% – 35% capacity, and there was a blockage in one of the arteries.

Hearing that I was diabetic didn’t really surprise me.  As I said, there were several factors in play at the time, as well as what in hindsight were some rather obvious symptoms.  What scared the hell out of me was when the doctor started talking about the results of the heart tests.  I had lost my father, 47, to a massive heart attack just 7 months before.  I was 24 and seemed destined to meet the same end.

After I was diagnosed, I was put on a pretty strict 1,500 calorie diet and an insane medication regimen to help both of my diagnoses.  And it helped a lot.  I lost about 40 pounds (mostly water weight) within the first few months after my diagnosis, and had lowered my A1C from 9.6 to 6.5.  That was 4 years ago.

Today, things are a bit different.  For one, I gave up on the strict diet because I felt like I was starving and depriving myself all the time.  I’m eating healthy foods and the things that I enjoy in moderation.

After trying several oral medications with limited success, I’ve switched to injectable medications.  Currently, I’m using Victoza in the morning and the long acting insulin Lantus at night.  I also have the fast acting insulin Novolog to use with a sliding scale when I need it.

I’m also exercising on a regular basis and have joined a gym.

My last A1C was 6.5, and my heart is functioning at around 47%.  Much better than it was.

Overall, I’m much healthier now than I was at the time of my diagnosis.  And so far, I’ve beaten the odds that were against me.

I would be lying if I told you that life with type 2 diabetes is a walk in the park.  It’s not.  There are days when it can be extremely difficult to manage despite my best efforts.  On the flip, there are days when things are easy going.  As with all things in life, you have to take the good with the bad.  And you do get used to it over time.  You don’t like it, but you get used to it.  The important thing to remember is that no two people experience type 2 diabetes in the same way and, as such, what works for me may not work for you.

I’ve been completely open about my diagnosis from the beginning.  Family, friends, my employer and coworkers, you name it.  They all know.  I’m not ashamed of it, so why hide it?  I even started this blog, www.mydiabeticheart.com, to tell people what it’s like to live with type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure.

Ultimately, telling people around me of my diagnosis was a matter of safety.  At least one person around should know about it and be able to help in the event that I have a problem.

It’s important to remember that I can do anything that my friends can.  Sure, I may have to plan for meals and make adjustment here and there to fit my needs, and I may need to take a break and check my blood glucose while out, but I can still do anything my friends can.

If there was one bit of advice I could give anyone, it would be to go to the doctor if there is something wrong with you. No matter how minor the symptoms may be, or how embarrassing the situation might be, go get checked. I know for many men, including myself, if there is something wrong downstairs, there is a real feeling of embarrassment, and a strong urge to just deal with it on their own. Let me tell you, there is no shame in going to a doctor. Your health is too important not to go.

Just make the most of the life and health that you have.  Live each day to the fullest, take care of yourself.

There is great life after diagnosis.  Live it!

All the best!

Mike Durbin.