Ask Gretchen

Patient Expert


Q: I just found out I have type 2 diabetes and my doctor told me I should try to lose weight. Won't that be difficult?

A: Probably not. It's succeeding that is hard.

Q: My dad always told me I should try to be number 1 in everything I do, but a nurse just told me I have type 2 diabetes. How can I break the news to my dad?

A: Just tell him you have the highest blood sugar on the block, and I'm sure he'll be very proud.

Q: What's the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

A: Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. That means you're immune to automobiles and don't get tempted by those ads that show sleek cars driving curving country roads at high speeds. This is a good thing, as a lot of those roads are speed traps.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance. That means you're very resistant to giving yourself insulin shots.

Q: I have type 2 and my doctor said if I don't get with the program, I'll have to go on the needle. What does that mean?

A: She was probably referring to the Space Needle in Seattle. It's very high up there, and she won't let you go down until you promise to take control of your blood sugar.

Q: My doctor told me to get a test called Ay Wan See. What does that mean?

A: Ay Wan See was a Chinese philosopher of the Ming Dynsasty who was studying the meaning of life. If you're having trouble with your diabetes control, your doctor may want to know what you think about philosophy. Don't ask me why.

Q: Some people tell me low-carb diets are good for diabetes. Other people tell me high-carb diets are good for diabetes. What do you think?

A: I think you heard wrong. They were referring to the standard treatment for type 2 diabetes, which is a high-cardboard diet, sometimes called a high-card diet for short. Registered dieticians love to prescribe diets that consist mostly of foods that taste like cardboard. These are high-card diets. Some patients rebel, however, and go on low-card diets despite what the professionals tell them.

Q: Why do doctors have to spend so much time practicing? Don't they ever do any work?

A: You obviously don't understand how difficult it is to sit in a plush office and tell people to lose weight and get more exericise. You have to practice for years before you can acquire the skill.

Q: I have type 1 and my certified diabetes educator said I should understand DKA. What's that?

A: It's a national fraternity that only admits men with diabetes. The members are often referred to as Deeks.

Q: My dietician told me I should keep a food log. What does that mean?

A: Some people store their food in a log instead of a refrigerator. But I think what the dietician meant was that you should take the logarithm of the food calories you need every day and then divide it by the cube root of your body mass index (to get the BMI, just divide your weight in centimeters by your height in kilograms, or something like that) to get your food log number. You do this calculation before you eat anything, and most people simply give up and stop eating, which makes weight loss a tiny bit easier. For instance, Madge stopped eating for 3 weeks and only gained 5 pounds.

Q: Some of your responses strike me as a bit odd. Do you really understand diabetes?

A: Does anyone?