Okay, so I’ve been living in Vietnam for about 10 months now and throughout my time here I’ve only blogged about Diabetes once, and that was when I temporarily went a little blind (scary, I know).
The reason I’ve not blogged about Diabetes is because, well, it’s a bit boring. There are many, many blogs on the internet (you only need to follow the #gbdoc on twitter to find great Diabetes articles, including Ninjabetic and the Masala Dosa Diaries ) and so I find that, apart from travelling with the pain in the ass condition, I don’t really have much to say that hasn’t been said before. However, one thing that I’ve recently noticed, which is perhaps in direct relation to where I’m currently calling home, is the amount of insulin I seem to be using.
Back in the UK I’d average about 1 Novorapid Flexpen every 2-3 weeks; of course I’d use more during months like December, where carb-filled meals are thrown around for fun, but generally my insulin usage was pretty consistent. The only time I ever took insulin while drinking alcohol was when drinking cask ales or Guinness type drinks, and I wouldn’t take any with wines, spirits, or lagers. So, given that in Vietnam most meals are pretty low on carbs, and I only eat western food a couple of times a week, why is my Blood Sugar higher, making me fly through 1 insulin pen every 10 days or so?
It’s well known that heat has an impact on a lot of bodily functions and lifelong conditions, but why would this cause rising Blood Sugar and a need for extra insulin? Heat is known to actually, if anything, further the chance of hypos (hypoglycemia) due to the body absorbing insulin quicker and more efficiently. I do have the occasional hypo, mainly after misjudging a new meal, but I doubt it’s down to the heat. I spent nearly five months in India, which is far hotter than Vietnam, and my Blood Sugar levels, and insulin use, were negligible in difference from back home. Maybe humidity plays a part? Vietnam is somewhat more humid than India or China, so perhaps that’s an issue? After researching various Diabetes websites for an answer, all of which are poor in terms of information, I’m at a loss.
When in India and Nepal, the meals I ate were generally loaded with carbs; rice, naan, roti, samosa- you name it, I ate it. However, my Blood Sugar levels were always pretty good and my insulin use, again, was not much different from home. Here in Vietnam, I eat mostly Pho (noodle soup with spices and meat or fish) and Banh Mi (basically a baguette); neither of these meals are particularly high in carbs, and apart from the occasional pizza or burger here and there, I can’t really account for the extra carbs and the resulting higher blood sugar levels.
Much to any doctor’s dismay, my alcohol intake, apart from a 5 week stint of soberness, has been pretty constant for about two years. Moderate boozing is known to increase blood sugar levels, before significantly dropping when too much is drank. I don’t get drunk often, and I only have one or two a night if I do drink, but the presence of alcohol in my system is consistent; I don’t feel any better or worse for it, and my Blood Sugar levels don’t seem to fluctuate either way, but could it relate to an overall slight increase in blood sugar over time?
This is the one thing that I think I can rule out completely. My weight has been roughly the same since my early 20’s, again tending to rise over the festive period and dropping again in the new year (who’s doesn’t, right?). I don’t actually eat that much, though I do eat quickly. There’s been research to suggest that the bigger you are, the more insulin you need, and the smaller you are, the less you need; basically the more body fat you have, the more difficult it is for the muscles to use the insulin you inject. Some people agree with this, some people don’t, but I don’t think it’s something I should be worried about.
Maybe I’m just getting old?
I’m sure there are many Diabetics out there who can maybe confirm that, the longer you live with Diabetes, the more intolerant your body becomes to insulin, meaning that maybe out of a 6unit injection, your body only actually makes use of 4units (just an example), and so, on average, more insulin is needed. I’ve only been ‘suffering’ from Diabetes for about 5 years; not a long time at all, but is that enough to cause a slight intolerance in my system, leaving me with higher Blood Sugars levels?
All in all, I’m not worried; my Blood Sugars aren’t wildly out of control, they’re just slightly higher, on average, than they’ve ever been. Having to buy more pens isn’t really an issue, other than that it’s costing me more money (the cost of insulin is £9 here), so I’m just trying to find, mainly out of interest, what the causes are. Diabetes websites, especially UK ones, seem to be, frankly, poor in terms of information other than the basics; I’ve looked into individual medical studies and pseudo-science theories on causes, but to no avail…
Does anybody have any thoughts, musings, or ideas on high blood sugar levels?