February 23, 2012
Complications of Using Insulin
An excellent topic came out in Joslin's blog February 6, 2012. While it does not outright list the myths that many people associate with the use of insulin, the question asked include two of the myths. The question is “Am going to lose my feet or go blind now that I am on insulin?”
Unless you have waited too long before starting insulin, and are letting your blood glucose levels remain too high, neither of these two myths need to happen. By keeping your A1c's less than 6.5, you should be able to avoid most complications. You do need to be very careful of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose below 70 mg/dl) and weight gain. If you are able to exercise, weight gain should be a minimal problem. Read my blog here on avoiding weight gain when on insulin.
Myths are the main reason many people with type 2 diabetes avoid insulin. Losing your feet is maybe one of the easiest to avoid. Have a good podiatrist that you see on a regular basis (preferably quarterly) that can check your feet. Be sure to point out any unusual bruises or cuts so the podiatrist can treat them immediately. If this is impossible, get yourself a mirror that can be used to see the bottom of your feet and talk about anything to your regular physician.
Blindness is a justifiable concern and you should have had an eye exam shortly after your diagnosis to establish a baseline for eye examinations while you have diabetes. You should have an eye exam annually to check for retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma.
There are other myths about insulin and you may read my blog on insulin myths here. It is important to understand that if you do not manage your diabetes and do not communicate with your doctors, complications will happen. They may be the expected complications or unexpected ones. Your doctor only has his questions and the results of lab work done, so if you do not answer his questions and remain silent about possible problems, then the complications are yours to deal with. Read my blog about who can be at fault and why.
Some doctors use the fear of insulin to keep people on oral medications and using them properly. Read my blog here about doctors using fear of insulin. If you are having success with oral medications, then continue taking them. Do not say I am doing well so I will stop the medications. Read my blog here about managing your medications. This is when the complications will develop and your diabetes may become unmanageable to the point you will need to use insulin. Some people are able to get off medications with their doctor's approval when they can show that their exercise and diet regimen is working and you are able to maintain this regimen. Yes, the doctors often need convincing.