When does it become necessary to start using insulin in type 2 diabetes? Here is a familiar scenario: You have just returned from your three-month diabetes check up with your doctor. Your doctor has just told you that she will be starting you on insulin. You have been dreading this day for the last several months. The truth is your doctor, so has your doctor.
You are experiencing a mixture of emotions. Some of them are intense. This cannot be happening you think to yourself.
Maybe if your doctor had allowed you a few more weeks, you would have been able to achieve a normal blood sugar range.
Maybe you’ll get a second opinion. Or it may be time to switch your healthcare provider.
If this scenario or something similar has happened to you or to anyone that you know, I want to assure you that you are perfectly OK with experiencing all these thoughts and emotions.
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Starting insulin represents a change in your life. In my over 20 years of experience as a primary care physician, I have met very few patients who were ecstatic that I was starting them on insulin.
So take a deep breath in, relax. You are fine.
This article will explain in simple terms why sometimes it may be necessary for a person living with type 2 diabetes to start on insulin.
My mission is to provide my readers with information in an easy to understand way so that they can get into action- FAST.
There is a common misconception that once a person with diabetes type 2 starts insulin that they now have type 1 diabetes. That is not the case.
There is a difference between, diabetes type 2 and type 1. The pancreas is the organ in the body responsible for producing insulin. It is located in the abdomen. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces little or no insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must use insulin in order to survive. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is still able to produce insulin.
So how come someone diagnosed with type 2 diabetes all of a sudden needs to start using insulin?
Insulin is responsible for a variety of functions. The most important function of insulin is managing how the body uses sugars and fats. The secretion of insulin from the pancreas varies. For instance, if you have not eaten, insulin sends a message to the fat stores in the body. The stored fat gets sent out as a form of fuel for the body to function.
In a person without diabetes, this whole process works well to maintain healthy blood sugars.
In type 2 diabetes oral medications help to stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin. However over time, the cells in the pancreas begin to wear down and die. When this happens, the pancreas is no longer able to keep up with insulin production.
At this point, oral medications no longer work.
When I bring up the difficult subject of starting a patient on insulin, I explain to my patients that if we continue to use just pills, it’s like beating a dying racehorse.
Think about it, beating that horse to get it back in the race is not going to work. In fact I summise that the more you beat the horse, the wearier it becomes and this may even hasten it’s demise. The same thing happens with the pancreas.
When a person with type 2 diabetes starts on insulin to get healthy blood sugar control, it gives the pancreas a much needed rest.
There are times that I have had to start a patient newly diagnosed with diabetes 2 on insulin. It is possible later on, to transition to oral medication or reduce the amount of insulin they were taking.
The human body has an amazing capacity to heal itself.
I tell this to my patients and clients all the time. The body has an innate desire to see itself healed and ‘not dis-eased’.
Insulin is known as one of the wonder drugs of science. Recent research shows the benefit of lowering blood sugars very early, in order to reduce potential complications. While oral agents may help, they do not reduce blood sugar nor A1C levels as dramatically as insulin can.
In order to live powerfully with type 2 diabetes, it is important to dispel the misconceptions that surround being placed on insulin.
No doubt this is one of the times when living with diabetes can be challenging. But it is not impossible. So do not give up on yourself.
This is when it is important to check in with your mindset. In my soon to be released free e-book I outline the importance of mindset. This is an excerpt from the first three chapters of my upcoming book “Dr. Eno’s A-Z Guide to Powerfully Living with Diabetes”
- Commitment to change
Use the ABCs as an anchor. They can help you grow and stretch outside your comfort zone. As time goes on and with the natural course of type 2 diabetes, the way that you and your doctor manage type 2 diabetes will change.
So the first step begins with your acceptance of the fact that you have reached a stage in your diabetes management that you require insulin.
The next step is a belief in yourself that you will do what it takes to learn all you can about insulin therapy.
And then finally that you make a commitment to change. Change perhaps the way that you have been doing things previously. Change whatever your hangups or misconceptions were about insulin.
All of this so that you can indeed start living a powerfully as a woman living with diabetes!
To your health and wellbeing,