Insulin Resistance Changed my Life

An ambulance rushed me to hospital last November – I couldn’t breathe.

The paramedics couldn’t treat me with anything other than oxygen – my heart was beating far too fast.

In hospital I was awarded the whole battery of tests – blood, mucus, chest, snot, throat, ear, heart – if they could test it they did.  While I coughed and coughed until I was sick and struggled to breathe and my heart raced and raced.

I was sent home the next day with a diagnosis of a pneumonia infection, some hardcore antibiotics and ordered to stay in bed for at least a week and do nothing – absolutely nothing.

And my heart raced on.

How on earth do you do nothing when you have 3 kids: one of whom is a toddler and one of whom is grieving her friend’s suicide and struggling after being bullied and the other one is just settling into university?

I tried to relax and get well, I really did.

A week or so later I visited my GP for the post hospital check-up.

I was still coughing but had a bit more breath in me.  My GP tested my heart rate and was instantly worried.

So once again I faced another battery of blood tests.

A week later I was back:

My bloods weren’t very good.  My thyroid was low (6.8 TSH), my folate was really low and my insulin was through the roof.  My bad cholesterol was too high, my blood sugar, however, was ok.

I was given the tentative diagnosis of insulin resistance and rewarded with yet another round of blood tests in a month.

January showed my thyroid to still be low at 4.8, my cholesterol was still too high and my insulin way, way too high.

A firm diagnosis of insulin resistance was handed down to me by my GP with advice on how to make the changes that would prevent me becoming type 2 diabetic in the next few years and lower my cholesterol.

My thyroid would continue to be tested and we would decide about treatment of that after later test results.

And I was quite absolutely devastated.  Why couldn’t I have something wrong with me that could be fixed with medication?  Why do I have to have an illness that can only be fixed with diet and exercise?

 

Treatment

Insulin resistance is often called pre-diabetes as it’s the precursor, or warning system, that unless you change your diet and lifestyle you’ll become type 2 diabetice.

Type 2 diabetes is controlled by food and sometimes tablets.  Type 1 diabetes is controlled by insulin injections.

The best way to treat insulin resistance is with a Low GI diet together with low fat food for the high cholesterol.

It’s not a quick fix diet though it’s a diet for life – a forever lifestyle change.

It took me a couple of weeks to understand low Glycemic Index eating but very basically it entails:

  1.  Eating low GI carbs, protein and either veg, salad or fruit at every meal with carbs being the smallest portion on your plate.
  2. Low GI carbs are brown carbohydrates eg brown basmati rice, wholegrain pasta, sweet potatoes, etc.
  3. Cut out ALL sugar from your diet
  4. And exercise.  It doesn’t have to be a lot it just needs to be more than you were doing.

Three Months after Lifestyle Change Implementation

I went back to my GP last week and got the results of my latest thyroid test.

My thyroid (TSH) is down to 2.4.

And I’ve lost a stone and a half in just 3 months without really trying to lose weight!

I knew I was doing it right because as the weeks went on I began to feel better and better almost daily.  But I’d no idea how much weight I’d lost cos I stopped weighing myself in week one when I stood on the scales and saw that I’d put on 4lbs!

I do have to be honest it wasn’t all perfect: I felt great in week one but the sugar withdrawal in week two was horrendous.  I had stomach cramps, crippling headaches and constipation. I thought I had a terrible bug.  But it went as soon after a few days.

Now I sleep well (I have no blood sugar spikes at night because my insulin and blood sugar is balanced throughout the day), I have no diarrhoea, I’ve lost weight but not only that my once pregnant looking belly has flattened out.  The hot flushes have gone and I’m back to the old self who felt cold all the time!

I can be busy all day and not feel tired.  I’ve started exercising and gardening.  I could barely move off the couch 4 months ago.

My brain fog has lifted (slowly) and my mind is beginning to feel like it did 10 years ago before I began putting weight on.  And I can remember words – I don’t tell teengirl to put her dirty washing in the microwave anymore!

Unbelievably my PMT has almost totally gone as have the migraines that plagued me at the time of the month.

My mood has lightened and I feel happier than I’ve done in years.

For several years I’ve said that I lost myself somewhere and didn’t know how to find me again.

Well it seems a forced lifestyle change has found re-found me – I was being drowned in insulin.

Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

Tiredness

Putting on weight with no diet changes

Carry weight on your stomach

Crave carbohydrates and sugary snacks

Headaches

Muscle aches

Poor sleep

Wake up tired

Diarrhoea

Depression

Hot flushes (you might not be menopausal you might be insulin resistant)

Brain fog

Can’t think straight

Memory loss/problems

Apathy

Lack of motivation

General exhaustion of mind and body

Prior to getting ill

Prior to being hospitalised I’d been to my GP (various different ones in the practice) with most of the above symptoms.  I’d been sent away with anti-depressants, told I was stressed, diagnosed as ‘probably intolerant to gluten’ without any blood tests, refused blood tests because I was just stressed or depressed.

It took me 7 years, an ambulance to hospital and a racing heart to get diagnosed.

Have you ever had your insulin tested by your GP?  I don’t I’ve ever had mind tested before.  My blood sugar (for diabetes) had been but when you’re insulin resistant your blood sugar is often normal, it’s the too high insulin that’s the warning system, that can, if addressed, prevent us from becoming diabetic.

Have you ever been to your GP repeatedly with the same symptoms as I had and got nothing, or nowhere?  Been told you’re depressed or stressed when you know there’s more to it than that but nobody’ll listen?  I’m feeling a bit rubbish at not forcing the other GP’s to do tests and a bit regretful that despite knowing something wasn’t right I took their crap diagnosis’ and lived half a life for the past 7 years.  Please tell me I’m not alone…

About mumtoteens

mum to two teens and a toddler - not a easy mix tbh. The oldest is 18, the middlest is 13 and the baby is 2 and we live a life full of love and chaos. View all posts by mumtoteens

19 responses to “Insulin Resistance Changed my Life

  • busycactus

    You’re not alone. The GPs can sometimes miss it unless they have a special interest. The worst thing is if they start dismissing you as hypochondriac. But I guess if you feel something is not right then you’re the best judge of your body. Just be persistent!
    My GP has always refused to test me any more than fasting blood sugar, but I know that’s not usually an accurate indication unless there’s blatant diabetes.

    • mumtoteens

      I wish I’d been more persistent and insistent 7 years ago when I started to feel ‘unwell’ Busycactus. I feel so much healthier now. I think there’s a lesson there for us all – don’t let your GP write you off as a hypochondriac, force them to listen.

  • sac727

    Thank you for your story. I was diagnosed with insulin resistance after struggling with it for a long time too. It took an awesome doctor to recognize that sometimes, a person who looks healthy isn’t healthy. Because the crazy thing with insulin resistance is that you can look normal – it’s not like with the flu where anyone who looks at you can tell you are a mess. I hope that in the future doctors are trained not to label women as depressed without doing any testing, or after doing testing for random disorders. Chronic illness tends to cause depression, so even if a person is officially depressed, they may also have another condition like insulin resistance. It’s especially hard to get diagnosed if you are underweight.

    Don’t be hard on yourself for not pushing doctors harder for real answers. When you feel fuzzy, it’s hard to keep track of symptoms and explain them accurately. I’ve had so many times I couldn’t even finish a sentence when my blood sugar was low.

    • mumtoteens

      Sac727 I totally agree it would be lovely if GPs stopped simply diagnosing women with depression and actually listened to them. I hope to see that in my lifetime.
      I used to not be able to remember the correct words for things and would tell the kids to put the dishes in the freezer when I meant the dishwasher. Now my blood sugar doesn’t fall I don’t do that. It’s quite amazing how one simple thing can make such a big impact on your life.
      Thanks for your kind and understanding words. I really appreciate them.

      • sac727

        I was so relieved to find that someone else had experienced the same thing! Many of the people close to me started to question if I was “really” sick or just being difficult, so it meant a lot to see that a stranger understood.

      • mumtoteens

        I had begun to question myself, I wondered several times whether it was all in my mind! It’s a huge relief to get a diagnosis.
        Do you control your insulin resistance with a low GI diet? I feel so much better now and stick to low GI almost religiously cos I never want to feel that bad again.

      • sac727

        Yes, I’m on a very strict low GI diet. I cannot even have brown rice, whole wheat, most fruits, and most dairy (my endocrinologist says a little bran or berries is okay). I found out recently that I’m insulin resistant because I have reactive hypoglycemia (basically I’ve been making too much insulin since infancy so my body doesn’t respond well any more). I also take Metformin.

      • mumtoteens

        Oh Sac727 sounds like you’ve really been affected by insulin! It must be really hard to not even be able to have brown rice, wholewheat or fruit and dairy. At least I can have carbs in brown and wholewheat form.
        I hope that on the strict low GI diet that you feel better.
        Thanks for your comment and take good care of your health.

      • sac727

        Thank you so much for your kind comment!

  • Ceci

    Hi! it was great for me to find your story, I am insulin resistance also but it has become really hard for me to keep a diet since I start not eating carbs at all and I finally start doing it and winning all the weight I had lost, Can you share me a little of the diet you do? thank you!

    • mumtoteens

      Hi Ceci
      I now live a healthy lifestyle and my eating is centred around the Low Glycemic Index (low GI) diet. Please don’t cut out carbs as an insulin resistant your body needs carbohydrates for fuel and energy you just need to eat the right kind and those are what are called Low GI carbs. Low GI carbs include brown pasta, brown bread, sweet potato, brown rice (I use brown basmati rice which is lovely), etc. In cutting out white starchy carbs and replacing them with brown and wholegrain carbs instead you’re removing all the sugar associated with white carbs from your diet, you’re also eating carbs that your body can digest and process. Your body struggles to digest white carbohydrates and they have no dietary value for you. Whereas brown and wholegrain carbs contain fibre and other goodness as well as providing you with the much needed energy and fuel you need.
      I’ve also cut out all other processed sugar eg sweets, cakes, biscuits, etc. I still eat some chocolate though!
      I also eat lots of fruit as it’s naturally occurring sugar.
      Your plate should be made up like this: half of it should be veg/salad/fruit, a quarter of it should be protein and the final quarter should be Low GI carbohydrates – at every meal.
      It’s taken me a year but I’ve now lost 3 stone eating like this and I’ve just recently started going to the gym to tone up my now almost flat stomach!
      Good luck Ceci, you can do it, especially when you replace rather than cut out whole food groups. And you’ll feel so much better for it.

      • Ceci

        HI! now I am having a healthier diet, I am going with an specialist and eating few carbs but is more balanced, I can have fruit only 3 times a week. I have a lot of control because I have a special cause, I am 9 weeks pregnant =) so I feel motivated, I also take Metformin I have been taking it for a couple of years and it helps. It´s great that you can eat some carbs even chocolate! Lets keep taking care of ourselves. good luck!

      • mumtoteens

        Wow, CONGRATULATIONS on your pregnancy!! That’s amazing and the best incentive for eating healthily and looking after yourself. Good luck with pregnancy and take good care of both of you. Let me know what you have when the time comes xxx

  • Crimson

    Thank you for writing this. I’m a young adult who has a had a crazy amount of physical and mental problems for many years, stemming from being abandoned when i was young, but never discussed it with anyone as i am a terribly shy, embarrassed person.

    I’ve had about half of these symptoms in my teens. As of a few years ago, more of more of what i see above also applies to me. Had a break down in my job about 2 years a go, due to a lot of stress and bullying(i think people see the weakness in me, and take advantage). Back then i went to the doctor and they tested me for pcos, she said i do have high chances of having it but more tests need to be done. I’m not sure what happened but i never went back.

    Things got worse, i left my partner as i felt guilty for being such a mess. I now stay at my dads, and haven’t been outside for about 15months. All of these symptoms have gotten incredibly worse, and more things related to pcos like excess hair on my face, dark skin in some areas.

    I have been trying to find the courage to go to the doctor all year, im scared i will go blank and forget important things. I’ve had conversation in my head everyday, of what i want to say. Yet i still havent found the courage to call. I feel trapped, like i have been dead this past year. So i really hope that from reading this great post from you, that i will this week finally find some strength in me to make that call. Goodluck everyone here, i hope you continue to make great progress to being happy and healthy.

    • mumtoteens

      Hi Crimson
      Thank you so much for commenting on this post.
      Like you I’ve always been afraid I’d forget the important things as soon as I was in the office so I write them down. One time I couldn’t even speak to the doctor so I just handed him my handwritten list and we took it from there.
      But please don’t wait until you are as ill as I was before you get some help and make sure you get your doctor to check your insulin levels not just your blood sugar levels.
      I would also suggest you find someone to talk to about the emotional issues that are also impacting upon your life.
      YOU deserve the best life possible, you deserve to live a life full of love and happiness, adventure and excitement. You don’t deserve to feel so unhappy, so alone, so insecure.
      But, in the meantime until you can address these things please consider changing your diet to eating Low GI and see how you feel after a few weeks on it – there are many easy to follow books you can buy cheaply on Amazon.
      I truly hope you find health and happiness. Please keep me updated on your progress.
      Take good care of you because sometimes you’re the only person who can.
      Mumtoteens xx

  • Mary Jo Duffy

    I can’t believe I finally found people who feel exactly like I do and that I was finally diagnosed with insulin resistance. I recently changed doctors and it was one of the first tests she ran. At first I refused Metformin because I heard is causes major intestinal issues, but I felt so lousy today that I called her and said go ahead and call in a prescription. Have you had any problems with diarrhea from taking Metformin.

    • mumtoteens

      Hi Mary Jo
      Sorry to hear you’re feeling so rough right now, at least now you know what’s wrong with you and it can be treated.
      I don’t take Metformin I’ve managed to bring my insulin levels down and feel better with diet. I eat, as much as possible, low GI and that seems to keep my blood sugar and insulin in check. I still get tired sometimes and stress exhausts me but I’m quite happy controlling it with my diet.
      Good luck with Metformin I hope it doesn’t upset your tummy, I imagine you’ve had enough diarrhoea to last a lifetime already!
      Let me know how you get on with it.
      mumtoteens x

    • sac727

      I have already had stomach issues because of an undiagnosed dairy problem (can’t even have the lactose-free kind), but I don’t feel that the metformin made it worse. In fact, it may have even helped because I also get stomach distress from blood sugar crashes.

      There are two types of metformin (regular and extended release). My doctor says the extended release is often easier to tolerate, but that I could try the regular if the extended release was a problem. I’m on the extended release with no apparent issues. The other thing to consider is that different manufacturers use different fillers; if you have problems, you can try another brand. For example, I ran into stomach issues with different drugs because of the milk fillers, not because of the drug itself, and was able to tolerate them after switching.

  • sac727

    Forgot one thing; it’s also important to start the Metformin slowly. I was on one pill a day for two weeks before going up to two pills (per my doctor’s recommendation).

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Lou Treleaven, writer

Writing for children, submitting manuscripts, reviewing great books and other wordcentric activities

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