I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1990. For several years, I was able to control my glucose levels with lifestyle modifications only. Modifying my diet and increasing my exercise worked quite well.
Unfortunately, diabetes is a progressive disease, and managing diabetes with no medications didn’t work after several years. Although I had been warned to expect to need medications at some point, it was still discouraging. The diabetes educator in my doctor’s office kept reassuring me and telling me that it was rather unusual to not need medications any sooner than I had.
For many years after that, oral medications allowed me to control my glucose levels and keep a good A1c level. That too finally came to an end. My doctor and I discussed whether to add insulin or try a new injectable medication for type 2 diabetes that was meant to be taken in concert with oral medications. The insulin route is one I’d rather not take unless it becomes absolutely necessary, so we went with the injectable type 2 medication.
The injectable medication, along with oral medication, did allow me to get back to good glucose levels and my target A1c. I had no side effects from the medication other than a good one. It did result in some weight loss. Still, as effective as it was, using it was sometimes problematic because there had to be six hours between the two daily doses, which had to be used immediately prior to meals.
Keeping a regular meal schedule at home isn’t a problem. The problems arise when I travel and am at the mercy of other people’s schedules. This is particularly true when I attend medical conferences for nearly a week twice a year. Breakfast is very light for me, and the medication needs to be taken before the two largest meals of the day. At these conferences, I’m very much at the mercy of the conference schedule, and on the days when dinner is part of the conference, there isn’t six hours between lunch and dinner. If I don’t eat during the dinner presentation, then I end up having too much time between lunch and dinner. Great. Not.
A couple of years ago, that injectable medication came out in a new version that is injected just once a week, independently of meals, instead of twice a day. This newer medication is probably the best thing that has happened for me since I began needing medications for diabetes. The only drawback is that it comes in a little kit with powder and liquid that have to be mixed immediately prior to injection, and it has to be kept refrigerated until use. To me, those are small inconveniences compared to injecting twice a day as I did with the other injectable medication. I’ve found a small insulin carrier that I use when traveling to keep the medication cold until I arrive at my destination and can put it in a refrigerator.
As reluctant as I was to try the injectable type 2 medications, I’m so glad I tried them. They’ve made my life so much healthier and so much easier, especially when traveling. I’m very thankful for the continuing research to develop more treatments for us.
Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation’s Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society. Teri can be found on her website, and blog, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.