Feeling Cheated

This post will probably sound rambling, and angry, and hurt and…the list goes on and on. So, forewarning.

Recently I went to the doctor because I was having dizzy spells that were becoming increasingly worrisome. I thought high blood pressure, inner ear infection, brain tumor, low blood sugar, dehydration, side effects of my acne medication…I had been taking sudafed on and off for months because I kept having issues with my ears feeling like there was liquid it in them (popping, crackling, etc). He did a bunch of tests, examined me, came up with nothing conclusive. He did a test where he took my blood pressure with me in different positions (laying down, sitting, standing). Thankfully my blood pressure was almost back to normal. (A few months ago it was super high when I went to the doctor.)

My doctor had me get an EKG to check my heart and then ordered a bunch of blood work. The results came back and I was pretty surprised by the results. I have to get my blood tested twice a year to check my kidney functions/potassium levels due to the acne medication I take. That test was ok. The platelet count reflected that there was some inflammation in my body or I was fighting off an infection (yay) but I don’t feel like I’m sick or anything.

The test also said I was anemic. I was anemic as a teenager and when I was a vegetarian. I’m really surprised that I’m anemic again considering the fact that I eat meat now and I have a pretty healthy/balanced diet with lots of veggies. My iron levels were 82 and I guess the normal range is 50-212, my saturation was 22% with a range of 20-50%. Eeek that’s a little low. Ok I can fix that. Iron supplements it is.

The glucose levels should be 70-200 mg/dL and I’m at 85. I guess that’s ok? He then said: 

“Your hemoglobin A1c is normal at 5.6, but this is very close to prediabetic range. An A1c between 5.7 and 6.4 indicates pre-diabetes, while an A1c equal to or greater than 6.5 would indicate diabetes. This makes it even more important for you to find ways to get active and moving again. Eating a healthier diet and trying to lose 5-10% of your current body weight over the next year or two would also help drastically reduce your risk of developing diabetes in the future.”

Um, what?!

My heart fell when I read that. Then I went through a roller coaster of emotions. I was hurt, I was scared, I was angry. Mostly angry. I felt cheated. The wake-up call I had 8 years ago that scared me straight was that I was pre-diabetic. Those words had terrified me beyond belief. I didn’t want diabetes. I didn’t want to have to test my blood all the time and take insulin pills or injections. It scared me enough that I realized it was time to lose the weight.

I worked SO HARD to lose over 100 pounds and I successfully lowered my blood pressure and avoided diabetes. I’ve kept my weight off for 6 years now and I exercise 5 days a week. I’m very active, I eat healthy, I count my calories, I log my food. So HOW is this happening again???

“For people without diabetes, the normal range for the hemoglobin A1c test is between 4% and 5.6%. Hemoglobin A1c levels between 5.7% and 6.4% indicate increased risk of diabetes, and levels of 6.5% or higher indicate diabetes. (source)”

So I am just at the border. I don’t know what my levels were 8 years ago when I was scared straight so I don’t have anything to compare this to.  The article goes on to say this:

“Patients with diseases affecting hemoglobin such as anemia may get abnormal results with this test. Other abnormalities that can affect the results of the hemoglobin A1c include supplements such as vitamins C and E and high cholesterol levels. Kidney disease and liver disease may also affect the result of the hemoglobin A1c test.”

I emailed my doctor to find out what was going on, why this was happening, and what I could do. I told him everything I’m currently doing and since I am ALREADY very active and eating right, what ELSE could I do? Seeing that above fact about things that can effect levels made me feel a little bit better I guess. If I was anemic, maybe that was effecting the test? I don’t have kidney disease but my acne medication can effect my kidneys…so maybe that is contributing to something? These were questions that I had and wanted answers to. Unfortunately I think the only real answer is to check my blood again in a few months after taking an iron supplement to see if things have changed.

Diabetes wordcloud

I’m not naive and thinking that just because I’m skinnier doesn’t mean I can’t get diabetes. I know that thin people can have it too. Sometimes it’s just genetic. My grandfather was diabetic. It could just be my family history. But I tell you, it’s a difficult pill to swallow to think that after all that work I did to lose the weight and how hard I’ve worked to keep it off…it could all be for naught. How could that be??

A friend of mine who is diabetic said I shouldn’t be worried. My levels weren’t alarming and the blood test wasn’t a fasting blood test. So perhaps she is right and it’s just a fluke. I decided to consciously cut out processed sugars the best I can, take iron, and ask my doc to do a fasting blood test to see what it says.

Anyways, I don’t have much else to share other than I feel stressed and unhappy about all of this. Time will tell. Perhaps this stress will be for nothing…

24 Responses

  1. what about stopping the acne medication? If that could be impacting your numbers, maybe it is time to step back and re-evaluate?

    1. Possibly! I would like to quit the acne medicine and I’ve already kind of planned on phasing that out after the wedding. But I can’t do it before that. It would be horrifying. But I am not sure if that medicine is effecting my blood sugar. I haven’t read anything in the literature that says that could be a side-effect.

  2. Honestly, I think the doctor scared you a bit unnecessarily. I do a lot of endocrine reports and it seems like the doc was just CYA in case for the future. You eat well and exercise and that is really the best you can do and what would be the prescription if you actually were prediabetic anyway. Hang in there.

    Having just gone through a battery of tests myself, I get the frustration of no answers.
    Lori recently posted..Saratoga Ride!

    1. Thanks Lori. Yeah, I went in to find out why I am dizzy and they had no answers or solutions (although I am seeing an ENT specialist soon) and instead got a dose of “be careful of diabetes” talk… 🙁

  3. Did your friend say you SHOULDN’T be worried? Typo?

    I’d be super pissed off too if I’d done all your hard work and then was told to work out. You might want to see a naturopath too. Something must be going on that you’re not absorbing enough iron.

    You’ll get through this. It’s just information. It may be wrong or off. Do some things and have it rechecked. You can mourn it for a while, I get that. You’re doing great. (hugs)

    1. Yes, typo! Should have said “shouldn’t”.

      I have been taking an iron supplement for about 2 weeks now. I don’t know that I feel any different or notice a change in my energy levels. Maybe it takes awhile. I’ve wanted to see a naturopath for awhile. This might be good motivation to actually do it.

  4. I recently had a wake-up call myself; I had no idea that diabetes runs in my family, but when I developed gestational diabetes, my dad told me that both he and his sister have type 2! Between that and my, uhm, generous waist circumference that I’ve kind of just brushed off until now, I now suddenly have three giant risk factors for developing type 2 within five years of pregnancy. I can’t tell you how motivated I am to stop that from happening.

    One tip I do have (after having to test my blood sugar after every meal now) is that beyond doing a solid workout session every day, it’s vital to remain active after meals – not just sit on the couch or in front of the computer like I used to do. Even just a 10-minute walk or doing some chores around the house makes a huge difference in how your body handles that glucose, so that’s going to be really important to me in preventing type 2 in the future.
    Ingunn recently posted..Lodge Lake

    1. That’s an interesting tip about being active after eating. I didn’t know that made such a difference. We do walk Bella after dinner, so that should help. I am worried about future gestational diabetes as well. I had been worried about that before I got this new news and now I’m even more worried!

  5. Ugh, that *is* frustrating! I’ve had similar test results for the past couple of years, even though I am a runner with a 22ish BMI. I have a family history of Type 2, and apparently I am one of the lucky few who develops prediabetes in spite of doing everything right. The news did push me to clean up my diet and step up my running, which dropped my numbers a smidge but not enough to get me back in the normal range. I’ve been told that if I stay on top of things, my A1C could stay at its current level indefinitely without causing problems (though even my medical providers don’t have a lot of information on prediabetes in otherwise healthy people).

    Don’t be discouraged! This is good information to have, so that you can act on it. And certainly don’t let yourself feel like your efforts to get healthy have been wasted in this area–if you hadn’t taken action eight years ago, there’s a good chance you would already have full-blown diabetes rather than barely-prediabetes.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement Christa! You are right. I was wallowing a bit and feeling sorry for myself when I should be happy that I made the change long ago to avoid diabetes. This was also a wake-up call for me to get back on track. I go through phases where I eat more sugar than I need to be and this is clearly telling me to chill the eff out!

      I’m glad to hear that you were able to change your levels, even if it’s just a little bit. That’s encouraging.

  6. If you decided to get retested, definitely ask for a fasting test, and ask how your other issues and medicine might affect the results. It doesn’t hurt to try to eat better, but it is frustrating when the standard advice doesn’t help because you already are doing the right things.
    Coco recently posted..Running Hill Repeats

    1. “…it is frustrating when the standard advice doesn’t help because you already are doing the right things.” <---YES! This. And I agree, I will ask more questions when I get re-tested.

  7. I hear everyone on the “standard advice thing!” The problem with that is ALL BODIES ARE DIFFERENT. So standard solutions won’t help each individual’s problem. I’m sorry about your test results & I understand your frustration. I’m hoping next time around, after fasting, you’ll find your numbers are right where they should be. I was scared into finally doing something about my health when I learned I was prediabetic, too. I haven’t had as much success in the weight-loss area as you, but I still continue to exercise often & eat better. All to no avail, sometimes, which can be frustrating. It’s hard to keep going down a “good” path knowing it may not change the outcome in the end! Very upsetting. I feel your pain!
    Jennifer recently posted..Reality TV vs. The Real World

    1. Yep, with diabetes sometimes you are just going to get it, even if you do everything “right.” 🙁

      Good luck in your quest. I had no idea you were pre-diabetic.

  8. Hi Lisa,

    I am so sorry- that’s got to be so frustrating- both the dizziness and the A1C test. I’ve been so inspired by your blog and I think you’re a great example of healthy eating and exercise.

    I work with people who have diabetes (but am not a medical professional) and don’t like the assumption that people make that if you end up with type 2 diabetes, you’ve done something wrong. Sometimes it just happens, and many of the people I work with are of normal weight and have good habits.

    There are so many factors that affect blood glucose besides diet and exercise. In addition to what you said about the low iron, many types of medications can raise blood glucose levels. The tip you got above about timing your exercise/activity after you eat is great advice. Another thing that can raise BG levels is stress/being sick- simply planning your wedding could cause your blood glucose levels to be higher.

    Also, not sure how much info you got about the A1C test, but it’s a guideline of what your average blood glucose has been over the past 3 months- that’s it. (An A1C of 5.6 is an estimated average blood glucose of 114.) It’s very possible that when you lost the weight and changed your habits that your A1C was much lower than 5.6 for a long time- and the recent health issues and wedding stress have caused it to be higher now than it was for many years.

    If your glucose test when you went to the doctor was 86 and it wasn’t a fasting test, that in itself is a great number. That’s only a measure of what your glucose was at the current moment, but definitely a positive to consider.

    Good luck!!! Keep us updated!

    1. Thank you so much for your insight, Leah. It’s news I didn’t know (and it would have been nice if my doctor had explained all that…). I find it fascinating that so many OTHER things can effect glucose levels–like medications and stress. I had no idea. It makes sense though, if one thing is unbalanced in the body I’m sure other things try to overcompensate. I do remember that something in the blood results showed that I had inflammation in my body. My doctor said maybe I was fighting off something and just didn’t feel sick. So maybe you are right and that contributed to my levels.

      Diabetes runs in my family and it’s always been something I’ve been worried about.

  9. It sounds to me like your doctor hasn’t made much of an effort to get to know you – the last two sentences sound canned and don’t seem to apply to you! I would be really irritated/upset by that alone. And I think the explanations you’ve gotten here have been far more helpful in general. I hope you can go for a fasting blood test soon just to get some more reassurance!
    bethh recently posted..Headwinds, tailwinds

  10. AFter losing 75 lbs and becoming very active, I found out I had diabetes. I was put on medication and kept doing what i was going fitness and food wise. Six months later I was off medication and felt so much better.!

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