Darla Wedll was losing weight and she didn’t know why.
For several months last spring, she hadn’t felt like herself. She rarely felt hungry. Food tasted metallic and so many smells made her nauseous.
Wedll had chronic dry mouth, so was constantly drinking water. She felt dizzy, struggled to focus on anything for extended periods of time and experienced tremors. She developed acid reflux. And, most baffling of all, her hair fell out until she had a 2- by 2-inch bald spot on one side of her head.
In spite of all this, Wedll wasn’t one to run to the doctor for every little ailment. She was a busy, 52-year-old mom and wife who worked full-time. But by last May, Wedll felt so sick that she finally visited her physician. The results from blood tests were startling: She had Type 2 diabetes. She not only would need to take insulin and multiple medications, she would have to overhaul her diet.
“I cried every day for the first two weeks, I was so upset,” Wedll recalls.
In retrospect, Wedll’s diagnosis wasn’t completely unexpected. Her mother had been diagnosed with diabetes later in life. Wedll’s blood sugars had also fallen within the “pre-diabetic” range in earlier checkups, but she hadn’t really known what that meant.
A strong support system
Fortunately, Wedll had some powerful allies in her corner. That included her husband; her college-age daughter and 15-year-old son; her two sisters; her extended family; her friends, and her certified diabetes educator at Lake Region Healthcare Center, Kayla Wagner.
Wedll remembers her first meeting with Wagner, during which the dietitian educated her on the insulin that would become a daily necessity. “She told me the first week and a half was going to be pretty rough, as my body had to get used to it,” Wedll says. “And it was – I’ll tell you that.”
Wagner also showed her how to eat and track carbohydrates. Wedll learned to read food labels, paying special attention to carbohydrates. “It’s my first thought in the morning and it’s my last thought at night. It’s now part of my life every day.”
Wedll now eats smaller portions and well-balanced meals. Initially, she thought she would never be able to have noodles or potatoes again, but Wagner taught her she could – if she kept within her daily carb limits. She learned to eat her hamburgers open-faced, correctly estimate a portion of noodles and which fruits and vegetables were especially high in sugar or starches. She’ll even allow herself an occasional splurge like a fun-sized candy bar, as long as it fits within her carb counts.
Prior to her lifestyle changes, Wedll had already lost 40 pounds from being sick. But after several months of her new, carb-aware diet, she dropped another 25 pounds. Ted, her husband of 22 years, had also altered his diet to support her, and managed to lose 15 pounds himself!
Wedll’s blood tests improved significantly. In three months, her A1C levels – which show blood sugar concentrations for the preceding two to three months – had fallen from 14 percent to 6.6 percent.
Nowadays, Wedll enjoys the benefits of her hard work. She receives compliments on her new figure, loves buying clothes and feels better. Even her near-sightedness has improved. She takes her medications and makes healthy food choices because it pays off physically and emotionally. “I’d rather feel healthy,” she says.
Wedll advises other newly diagnosed diabetics to be compliant. “Take your meds when you’re supposed to take them, count your carbs, listen to your dietitian and stick with the plan,” she says. “If it is 8 o’clock at night and everyone else is having ice cream, you might just have to have an apple. Sit back and think of the big picture. You’ll feel better if you make the right choices.”
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