Dear Type 1 with weight issues (like me),
I don’t know your history with diabetes or with your weight, but mine is something like this: I was always healthy and active as a kid, and even into my late teens and early 20s. I didn’t become diabetic until I was 21 years old and in college (after having been on Accutane for a year and also having my tonsils taken out. Did one of those things cause/trigger my diabetes?? The world may never know.) It was crazy and crappy. I initially lost, then gained, then lost weight right after diagnosis. But then I maintained a healthy weight for at least a decade. And then came my 30s. A sedentary job, years spent on birth control pills, and then getting married and having fertility issues (inject tons of stress, hormone shots, hormonal imbalances, you name it ) all led to a sharp incline in weight gain, and also a sharp incline in insulin resistance. With insulin resistance, I had to take more insulin. Taking more insulin, I gained more weight. Gaining more weight, I had to take more insulin. My endo basically told me I had become a Type 1 who also had Type 2 diabetes, and I was put on Metformin to help combat some of my insulin resistance. It helped, but didn’t fix the underlying issue. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t seem to break with any amount of dieting and exercising. I had all sorts of back pain, plantar fasciitis in my feet, and barely had enough energy to get through most days. I needed a dramatic change, and I needed it fast. I was in my 40s, with a 3 year old child that could out-run me. How could I protect her if I couldn’t even protect myself anymore?
So, I did my research. Talked to other friends who had some type of bariatric surgery. Joined a couple of Facebook groups to talk about it. Searched and searched for other T1s who had the surgery, but came up short. I had decided against the more complex gastric bypass (where they reroute all sorts of things) and chose the sleeve (VSG) because it was easier to comprehend how my digestion would change post-surgery, the weight loss would be more gradual, and I felt I could manage my diabetes (and health) better in the long run with this surgery.
Now, I am almost 8 months out from surgery. I finally have energy and can eat (more or less) regular foods. I eat FAR less than ever, focus on eating my protein first, then keep to a minimum amount of carbs over the course of the day. My goals each day are to eat at least 70g of lean protein, drink 64+ ounces of water, take all my various chewable vitamins and supplements (there are quite a few) and to keep sugar and fat intake around 5g at each meal/ eating time. In order to consume just what I need to consume, but not overfill my “sleeve” stomach, I have to eat several small meals – I am basically “snacking” all day long. I have lost 70 lbs total, and am currently in a “stall” so now I need to switch it up, exercise more, and really work to get the weight to come off. But get this: My insulin requirements went from over 100 units per day, down to about 50 units per day now (that’s meal boluses and basal rate combined.) I no longer take Metformin. My A1c is sitting pretty & playing nice at 6.1. I’m down 2-3 sizes in most clothes. I can sit comfortably in those super-close stadium seats. I can chase after my daughter. I can play with her on the floor, and then stand up without groaning. My feet don’t hurt nearly as much any more. I’m ready to join the local swimming pool this summer and enjoy it with my family and friends. I *feel* better than I have in YEARS.
This has been a tough road, and it remains challenging. With diabetes, LIFE ITSELF is challenging – we know that. There are days when I have low blood sugars and shake my fist in the air that I am forced to go off my diet plan and eat when I don’t want to. There are days of unexplained highs that send me into a spiraling fatigue, just like before. Juggling exercise and blood sugars and my teeny stomach is even more challenging. Having a crashing low, cramming my face full of an apple and then having my stomach feel like it’s going to explode is NOT fun. But would I say this surgery was a success for me? Even though I still have at least 50-60 lbs left to lose? YES. Every time I will say YES.
But you – all the other overweight Type 1s out there with BMIs in the “morbidly obese” category like I was – you have to make the decision on your own. Every surgery comes with it’s risks and potential complications. For me, the results I’ve had so far, even though I’m not “at goal” have been SO worth it.
Happy to have my life back —