• Bowie Matteson

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Diabetes

THE GOOD


A good diabetic is an excellent amateur chemist. They are one who can accurately measure their sugar intake and deliver exogenous insulin accordingly to maintain a state of balance between what is in the cell and what is in the blood. They can proactively medicate in relation to their meals, while also taking into effect how active they will be in any period of time.


Physical activity is an important regulator of carbohydrate uptake, independent of insulin. Exercise is a pivotal part of many diabetics' means of regulating their blood sugar.


A well-regulated diabetic leads a perfectly normal life. Cell function, mental clarity and physical wellness continue as if nothing ever happened. They are tasked with tracking their carbohydrate intake, monitoring their physical activity and periodically measuring their blood sugar levels to ensure the proper balance in the blood.


THE BAD AND THE UGLY


For those who do not regulate their blood sugar with exogenous insulin...


Your blood becomes back-logged with sugar. Anyone with diabetes can attest to the feeling of having high blood sugar, which for me feels like having syrup in my veins. Your blood continues to circulate to the kidneys, it’s filtration system, that gets overworked and rundown from having to filter out the big, sticky glucose molecules.


And your cells! Your poor cells don’t get any of the fuel that were supposed to be delivered by the blood. Those feelings of lethargy associated with hyperglycemia? (Remember syrup in your veins?) Weight loss, frequent urination, extreme hunger and weakness are all a result of your cells being poorly fueled. You’re thirsty because your body is trying to dilute the overly sugar-saturated blood. You’re hungry because, despite having eaten, your cells are starved of any real nourishment.


Understanding these underlying mechanics of the disease make for understanding the resulting complications from the disease that much easier.

Mood swings? Your brain, thyroid and every other hormone producing gland or organ requires glucose to function properly. Cranky? Confused? Tired? Check your blood sugar.


Kidney failure? Filtering sugar-filled blood through a kidney is like putting mud through cheesecloth. It doesn’t work and you’ve ruined the cheesecloth.


Diabetic Retinopathy or Glaucoma? Those very fine blood vessels, like the ones in your eyes, struggle to handle the glucose residue that comes from high blood sugar. The longer this goes on, the more likely the blood vessels are to collapse, stiffen, or cease functioning altogether.


Toe and Finger Amputation? Those same glucose molecules that your eyes struggle with? So do the fine vessels in your fingers and toes. Too high for too long, your digits may start to tingle and eventually go numb. And the thing about sugar is that everything eats it, even bacteria and fungus. So while you may not feel them anymore, gangrene does.


As with the finer vessels in your circulatory system, with extended exposure, even the larger vessels, like those of the heart and brain, can begin to stiffen. This can lead to heart attacks and strokes.


IN CLOSING


Some may say "The Good" is over simplified and "The Bad and Ugly" seem morose. To that I say that simple does not mean easy. And while periodic hyperglycemia is not a death sentence, there are far too many diabetics living in the dark as to the severity of how they manage their condition.


What does a good day look like for you?


What of the bad and the ugly motivates you the most?

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