Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My latest lab results

A couple of weeks ago, I got the results of my latest lab test in the mail.

Remember a little over a year ago, when my doctor was concerned because my cholesterol on my last lab results was high? My LDL was 112, which was only a little higher than it "should" be for a diabetic, and well within the range for a non-diabetic.

At the time, I was thinking hubby and I would start trying for a baby soon, and had gotten off Lipitor in preparation for it. But even though we had decided to delay it a little, I decided I wasn't getting back on Lipitor in the meantime.

It seems I was right not to, as my LDL went down to 92 on its own (helped, probably, by a continuing healthy lifestyle). My triglycerides popped up a bit — to 173 from 128 — but my doctor write "OK" by that, so apparently he's not worried. My HDL is still about the same — 71 instead of 79 — which is good. My cholesterol to HDL ratio is still the same, 2.8.

While this is all good news, I find it interesting that my TSH has gone up to 5.64. This number should be between 0.40 and 4.50; a high number could indicate hypothyroidism. I find this very peculiar because I'd actually been losing weight before this test was taken, most likely because I was eating a bit less and riding my horse a bit more. Is it possible that my TSH could have gone up because my metabolism was slowing down, trying to compensate for the sudden change in eating and exercise habits?

In any case, I gained a few pounds briefly — we're talking for just a few weeks — and now I've been losing it again, so I'm not terribly concerned about having Hashimoto's disease. Next time I go in to see the doctor, I'll see what he thinks about my thyroid test results. Regardless, though, unless I really start struggling with my weight I'll insist that we simply keep tabs on my TSH — just like with the Lipitor, I will not go on medication that I don't fully need.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

President Obama's press conference on health care reform

Last night President Obama gave a press conference on health care reform to answer a lot of people's concerns. If you didn't watch the speech, I highly recommend you do now.

One of the biggest concerns that I've heard from conservatives I know is the fear that this is going to raise our taxes. In his press conference, Obama clearly states that he will not raise taxes on middle-class Americans. This means that for the vast majority of people, insuring the uninsured will NOT cost you anything.

Two-thirds of the plan is going to be completely paid for by reallocating tax dollars from other health programs that are not working. In other words, two-thirds of the funding for this plan is already being paid into the system, and is being essentially thrown away. It makes sense to redirect that funding into a program that will benefit Americans.

The other one-third of the funding is where the debate currently lies. Obama promises in the speech that he will absolutely not sign a bill that acquires funding by raising taxes on middle-class Americans. One proposal has been to raise taxes on people earning more than $1 million per year (which I don't see a problem with — if you have that much money you can afford to help the less fortunate), but there are also other options currently on the table that don't require raising taxes on anyone.

Obama also talks about how his plan will set in place some (much needed, in my opinion) regulation on the health insurance industry. For one thing, it will stop health insurance companies from denying you coverage for a pre-existing condition, and limit the amount of money that they can make you pay out-of-pocket. For a diabetic, this is extremely important, because not only will we be able to buy individual health insurance, but we will also be able to afford it.

Health care reform means more to me than almost any other issue. I don't think it's fair that in America, some people live in houses the size of small countries, while other people are dying from treatable conditions because they can't afford health insurance. That just should not happen in a country as great as ours.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Diabetes and pregnancy

A headline I saw today, on expectant mothers with diabetes, reminded me of an important subject matter I haven't written on yet: diabetes and pregnancy.

Several years ago, when Michael and I were first contemplating marriage and the kids we wanted, I started looking into diabetes and pregnancy. I am a big-time advocate of keeping hospitals out of the birth process — or keeping laboring moms out of the hospital, I guess I should say — so I was interested in finding out more about diabetes and the possible complications of pregnancy.

What I found was both encouraging and discouraging. There are a lot of various problems that can arise from diabetic mothers giving birth, including birth defects, miscarriages, and oversized babies that require C-sections to be born. However, most of these complications seem to arise in cases where the mother's control over her sugars wasn't as good as it should have been.

Michael and I didn't start trying to get pregnant right away as we'd planned — we're now planning on starting to try later this year, when I'm done participating in a study at my doctor's office. Much of my research on the subject was therefore done quite a while ago, but I'm going to review it and write a few posts regarding diabetes and pregnancy. Although the article I linked to talks about both gestational and pregestational (i.e., type 1 or type 2 diabetes that existed pre-pregnancy) diabetes, my posts will have to do primarily with type 1 diabetes and how it affects pregnancy, labor, and the choices available to expectant moms.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Don't forget the underinsured

I've talked a lot in the past about politics and why I believe we need a health care program in this country to guarantee coverage for the uninsured. This recent article reminds us of why we need to also remember the plight of the underinsured.

Apparently, the majority of people who are forced into bankruptcy because of medical bills actually do have health insurance — they just found out the hard way that their policies had all kinds of loopholes that allowed the insurance companies to deny coverage.

The article has a good point — helping the uninsured is important, but we also need to control runaway health care costs and crack down on insurance companies dumping policyholders or denying coverage.

Diabetes and hard (physical) work

Today I spent about six hours working at the barn. As a type 1 diabetic, this is something I really have to be careful about, because the exercise makes my blood sugar drop.

I've been more active lately, so I've been having to tinker with my insulin doses a little. Usually when I become more active, my Lantus needs dip for a short while, then come back up and settle back where they were before. I think this is because the exercise changes my metabolism, which changes how my body processes sugar.

The other thing I have to make sure of is that I run my blood sugar a bit high before I go out to the barn. If my blood sugar is on the low or normal side, I'll eat a snack; if I'm eating a meal, I'll take a little less insulin than I normally would.

I also try to always bring my glucagon kit with me when I'm doing something that could make me crash. I didn't today, but I should have. For example, if I go for a bike ride I stick it in my handlebar bag.

It's important to remember that activities such as moving furniture — or, in my case, mucking manure and moving mulch at the barn — are just as active as going to the gym and working out, and therefore can have just as much of an effect on your blood sugar.