Monday, September 12, 2016

You Don't Look Like Your Blood Work or The Sort-of Diabetic

I looked at the doctor, questioning look on my face. "What do you mean?" She looked up from the lab report. "Your numbers. You. What I see on the lab report and what you look like. They don't match."

She explained to me that my A1c of 7.5, glucose of over 100, high cholesterol - both good and bad, and under active thyroid didn't line up with my 5'3" 105 pound frame. I work out everyday by running, walking or on the Precor. I use weights to keep my arms toned. I eat what would be considered healthy with salads, vegetables, fresh fruit, and chicken or fish with an occasional red meat meal thrown in.

So the blood work says that, technically, I should be heavy?  That my diet is junk food or fast food?  That I am sedentary?  I don't look diabetic.  The normal reply to someone with all of my numbers would be: lose weight, watch what you eat, exercise but now what? I can't afford to lose weight, I exercise, and I eat pretty healthy.  So I am Sort-of Diabetic... Blood work says yes, looks and lifestyle says no.

Is that why, when I had gestational diabetes, the doctor wasn't very concerned because on the outside I didn't look diabetic? I was sent to a nutritionist and given food with eating suggestions with some monitoring for sugar in my urine at visits but never once was told to check my glucose numbers or had an A1c done. 3 pregnancies. Same thing.

The assumption diabetes is a "fat" person disease is wrong and I hate to even say it. I don't want to perpetuate the lie.  Even now when people find out I am diabetic I get the look and usually a "Really?" Sometimes I even get the "You don't look you have diabetes" comment. I try not to get defensive and shout, "Yes, really! My insides, okay I'll point the finger, my pancreas, just doesn't work like it should. Maybe all those years of regular soda in high school overworked it. Maybe genetically I am predisposed because of my dad. Maybe it was 3 pregnancies.  I don't know why I have it but I do!!"  Instead I smile and give them the benefit of the doubt, that until you have the diabetes diagnosis, people are just uneducated about the disease and that's okay.  I don't know very much about lupus, cancer, gluten intolerance, or other medical issues but I try to be sympathetic when someone tells me they are suffering with a hidden issue.

I just want the same.  What about you? What assumptions drive you crazy? What do you wish people would know?

P.S. I have seen the discrimination with those who are heavy and say they have diabetes, the looks and comments as if you deserve it, caused it and can cure it. The stereotypes are alive and well but I would love to shatter the misconceptions!  More thoughts on that later....