The Diabetic Journey of Andre Jacobs

Hello and welcome to my diabetic journey.

I am Andre Jacobs and I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus in 2001.

I have managed to leave the symptoms of diabetes behind and are now living a normal life.

It has not been easy to do a complete modification of lifestyle but I've managed to do it and so can you.

Before knowing about my diabetes

Prior to my diagnosis I was uncharacteristically moody, sometimes bordering on depression. My work and home life was really getting me down.
Everything was such an uphill battle and I would blow my top for the slightest reason.
I was always tired and could not pass a toilet without first having to pay it a visit.

Then I also started losing weight. (It was more a case of getting thinner, as I was not weighing myself at that time)
This was not a problem as I was obese. The "strangeness" of this weight loss however did bother me a bit, as I was not trying to lose weight.

Actually the more candy and junk food I ate, the more the inches melted away - this is just not normal in any way shape or form.
Diabetes could be a nice incentive to lose weight, but must never, ever be the preferred method!

Thirst was also a big part of my day - no problem, just quench it with some more cola.
Thinking that this excessive cola drinking, combined with the aging process, is the cause of my all too frequent visits to the toilet.

Then there were the cramps. Bolting out of bed from a deep sleep, in the early hours, with this incredible pain in a calf muscle. Rubbing and kneading until the muscle relaxes.
Yes, those nasty cramps. I took it as normal, thinking of it as the "growing pains" of the aging adult.

My body was telling me what was wrong, but I was lacking the ability to understand or interpret the language my body was using.
I knew something was wrong, but not concerned enough to do something about it. Don't you fall into the same trap!



Made aware of my condition

Late 2001 I needed minor surgery for an unrelated matter.
The surgeon made a decision that changed my life forever. He wanted to know what my blood glucose levels were.
My sugar levels had nothing to do with my condition at that time. Why he did this, I never found out, however I am grateful that he did.

The test results came back with an overwhelming positive for diabetes.
My first reaction strangely was: "YES!, Yippee!" Actually I was only glad that I now knew what was wrong with me. Now those little niggling, bothersome issues can be addressed and fixed.
Easier said than done.

Then the reality of it all sank in. Visions of a premature death kept floating into my thoughts. Worries about my family set in.
As I became more aware of the complications, I worried about losing my feet, my sight, my kidneys and of course, my life. And yes, I was scared.



Coping with the treatment

The doctor immediately put me on tablets as well as insulin.
Insulin for type 2? My medical aid did not like the insulin part either.
The doctor explained that he wanted to make this invisible disease more visible.
With daily injections, I could not help but be more aware that I have diabetes.
The dietitian also thought that the insulin was a good idea. As she put it, it would give my pancreas a rest and a chance to recover.

The dietitian went to great lengths to explain the dangers of obesity. She also gave me a long list of dietary needs. What I could eat, what I should eat and what is not such a good idea to eat.
There was also a nice in depth explanation of the value of the low GI diet.

From the get go, I stopped using sugar. This resulted in some weight loss, but that was as far as it went.
The dietitian was not satisfied. She wanted me to do better.

All the dietary suggestions and advice I got, was surely not meant for me. It must be for "those other people" I did not follow the advice correctly.
I knew what to do, I could do it, but I still did not do it!

There were always tomorrow. I would start tomorrow, for now I will just enjoy this tasty morsel (my last one ever) Tomorrow never came, the next day there was another tasty something that needed to be enjoyed for "the last time" and so it continued for the next 6 months.

I was bluffing myself, thinking that I am doing what was needed to be healthy, but I was not.
Going through the motions, not achieving anything significant is worse than doing nothing at all.

There I was, knowing what to do and not doing it, thinking all the time I was doing "alright". It was like I was on a suicide mission, purposely sabotaging myself.

I started to develop a sore and stiff shoulder. The doctor called it a "frozen diabetic shoulder".
I read somewhere that aspartame could cause this and I stopped using all artificial sweeteners. It took about 8 weeks for my shoulder to relax. I am now sure that the cause was aspartame.

The dietitian explained that aspartame can cause a PH unbalance in the body in some people and that is probably what brought on the frozen. She continued to say that generally aspartame is not harmful, as extensive tests have shown.

Then one evening, I got up to investigate a noise in the house. I started to get a bit light headed, which quickly changed to dizziness,
I just had to sit down, I nearly passed out. What a horrible feeling.
I knew something was very wrong.(Duh!) I assumed it had something to do with my blood sugar. All I could think of was to stumble to the kitchen and grabbing a handful of sugar and ate it (spilling most of it).

Turned out my assumption was correct, the dizziness lifted very shortly after having the sugar. I had a hypoglycemic episode.
The next day I still felt "funny" - sorry, funny is the best way I can describe that weird feeling inside my head. It is like I am there but not totally present.

On my next appointment with the doctor, I laid down an ultimatum: That unless he can give me a valid medical reason why I needed the insulin, I will stop using it.
I was sure it was the insulin injections that caused the very low blood sugar incident. The doctor agreed with me and said I could stop taking the insulin.

I realized that I was not winning this diabetes battle.
My body is the only one I have got - for the rest of my life.
I then made the decision to do everything in my power to be in the best health that I can be, no more pretending to be doing the right thing. To do this, I still needed to know more.



Gathering information

In order for me to make better informed choices, I needed to understand this disease and all its implications.

My doctor and dietitian got peppered with questions. Any other medical professional I came in contact with suffered the same fate.

I spent a lot of time in the library, got some books and generally investigated and researched everything on diabetes. What an information overload!
Slowly but surely I started to make sense of it all.

If something cannot be measured, then it cannot be controlled/managed. So I started a journal of everything I ate, the time it was eaten, my weight and blood sugar measurements.

The advice is to weigh only once a week (as the weight do fluctuate on a daily basis).
I did weigh myself daily, as it is easier to form a daily habit than a weekly one. I found that if the daily weightings are averaged and compared to the once-a-week weight, there is no significant difference.

These measurements got plotted on graphs and were presented to my health care team on every visit. They were impressed, as none of their other patients did anything like it.
It did help them to better assist me in managing my disease.

Yes, the management of my diabetes is my responsibility, the health care team is only there to assist me in achieving the best results possible.



The result

Turned out that the decision I made turned out to be the catalyst.

It spurred me to turn the information I gathered into a workable solution, to turn the knowledge into action.
Knowledge without the appropriate action is just information.


My oversize potbelly shrunk as the photo shows. I do not have a decent "before" image for comparison, but the inches shown by my belt says it all.

My blood sugar levels stabilized. My energy levels soared. The more energy I had, the more active I became, which in turn helped to burn more fat. A nice "snowball effect".

All this became reality just because I chose to be healthier. Making daily choices of: "Is this good for me or not." and then acting on that decision.
It became easier and easier to do, now it is an automatic response, as normal as brushing teeth.

I have reached the conclusion that if I take diabetes seriously, then it will not be a serious condition to me. All I have to do is to continue taking my diabetes serious, and its effects will diminish.



What more can I do?

I wanted to shout from the rooftops: "I have the recipe to conquer this diabetes thing, a recipe that works for me."
Somehow I needed to share what I have done. (and are still doing) All this knowledge I have gathered, can be put to good use by other people in the same predicament.

I am attempting to help improve the quality of diabetic care by increasing the understanding of the disease, motivate people to change life style and to engage in self-care.
Without the patient taking full responsibility for their own destiny, the disease management will continue to produce meagre results at best.

The obvious choice is to put all this information on the Internet, that way it can be shared globally.
Hence the name of the website: "The-diabetic-Voice.com" It is me, voicing my findings and opinions to the diabetics out there that want to improve their situation and live a normal healthier and fuller life.

For a long, long time I struggled to come to grips with what it all entails to put this information on the Internet.

I could have used blogging as the medium and was very tempted to do so. Blogging did not seem to be the right vehicle, as it is more "news" orientated (who want to read "old" news) the only reason it was tempting is because it is easy to start a blog.

A fully informational website is more what I had in mind. However, the technical details of everything that need to come together in a cohesive unit are mind boggling.
I found it difficult to get my head around all the technical details and could not get a website off the ground,

Then I came upon Site Build It! They are taking care of all the technical details for me, all I have to do is concentrate on the information that I want to get "out there".
I have not found any other system that comes even close to what Site Build It! provides. Click to learn more about Site Build It!



Parting thoughts

This has been a voyage of discovery for me. I do hope that you have found some value on this page, some inspiration to continue and not give in to your circumstance.

One thing I do know is that diabetes does not need to be a major issue in your life, as long as you take it seriously.
The life style changes are not difficult to implement or to maintain. What is needed is to make the decision and stick to it.

My sincere wish is that this website will give you the information and motivation to take charge of your life and conquer your diabetes as I have done.

If you want to get in touch with me, please go to Contact Me and use the contact details form. The form is there to curtail spam. I will reply as soon as possible.(Usually within 2-4 working days)


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