Weekly Hello! #24 — So disappointed

Weekly Hello! #24 — So disappointed
Disappointed at going through a 2nd week of no access to Ozempic

If you were here for last week's newsletter, you already know what I will discuss. If you don't feel like reading about insulin resistance struggles, please feel free to skip this edition of Weekly Hello!

I am now 2 weeks in with no Ozempic, and some of the pains I'd begun to forget have returned. First, a bit of background. What is insulin resistance? Insulin resistance is when the body's cells become less responsive to the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. When cells are insulin resistant, they don't efficiently take up glucose from the bloodstream, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels. This can lead to various health issues, including an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, weight gain, and metabolic syndrome.

That's a scary list of health issues, but it reflects the endgame. It's challenging to ignore a heart attack, stroke or impending amputation, but the early indicators are much easier to miss. That list includes:

  1. High fasting blood sugar levels: If your blood sugar levels are higher than normal after not eating for a while (usually 8 hours or more), it could be a sign of insulin resistance. So, if your fasting blood sugar is above 100 mg/dL or 5.6 mmol/L, it's worth paying attention to.
  2. *Abdominal obesity: When you have extra weight mainly around your waistline rather than being spread evenly, it can be a signal of insulin resistance. So, if you notice more belly fat, it could be an early sign to be mindful of.
  3. **Increased hunger and cravings: Feeling hungry often, especially soon after eating, and having intense cravings for sugary or high-carb foods can be signs of insulin resistance. When your cells don't respond well to insulin, they may not get enough energy from glucose, leading to persistent feelings of hunger.
  4. ***Fatigue and low energy levels: Insulin resistance can affect how efficiently your body uses glucose for energy. As a result, you may experience ongoing fatigue, low energy levels, and a general lack of stamina.
  5. ****Skin changes: A condition called acanthosis nigricans might appear if you have insulin resistance. It's characterized by dark, thickened patches of skin, often found in body creases like the neck, armpits, or groin. It's more commonly seen in individuals with obesity.

(Each item marked with an asterisk is a symptom I've experienced — more detail at the bottom of the newsletter)

Now that we have an idea of early symptoms and the endgame of insulin resistance, let's get into some detail about what it's supposed to manage, blood sugar. Blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, plays a vital role in the body as a source of energy for various cellular functions. Here's some:

  1. Energy Source: Blood sugar is like fuel for our cells. It provides the energy needed for cells to do their jobs and keep our bodies running smoothly.
  2. Brain Power: Our brain loves glucose! It relies on a steady supply of glucose to support our thinking, memory, and concentration. It helps keep our brain sharp and functioning well.
  3. Muscle Energy: When we move and exercise, our muscles need glucose to work properly. Glucose provides the energy for our muscles to contract and perform physical tasks.
  4. Hormone Helpers: There are special hormones in our body, like insulin and glucagon, that help keep our blood sugar levels in check. Insulin helps bring down high blood sugar levels, while glucagon helps raise low blood sugar levels when needed.
  5. Balanced Blood Sugar: Our body works hard to keep our blood sugar levels within a healthy range. When it's too high, insulin steps in to store excess glucose. And when it's too low, stored glucose is released to bring the levels back up.
  6. Cell Communication: Glucose also acts as a messenger, signalling various processes within our cells. It helps coordinate different functions in our body, keeping things running smoothly.

When your blood sugar is too low or too high for long periods, those are the processes that are being disrupted. In my case, high blood sugar, the damage that is caused to the body is truly shocking. Sustained levels of high blood sugar can cause damage to blood vessels, nerve damage, kidney complications impairing their ability to filter waste from the blood, eye problems leading to blindness, increased risk of infections due to lowered immune system, and over time, sustained high blood sugar levels can put a strain on various organs, including the pancreas, liver, and heart.

I do not mention all of this to fearmonger; I'm truthfully terrified. I watched my grandma lose both legs and her vision, so the centimetre I have gained around my waist over the past 2 weeks is not just 1 centimetre, it's a plume of smoke. It's a reminder that I have a war raging within me, threatening to slowly chip away at my ability to lead the life I hope and fight for each and every day.

I have made peace with the knowledge that the war against insulin resistance and diabetes will be lifelong. That knowledge is encouraging; I'd rather know which battles await me. I am disappointed that even now, with all the knowledge of how people are impacted by this, many still line up at doctor's offices to drain the already dwindling supply of what has proven to be a life-changing medicine, with no guilt or shame. It's discouraging to know that to most, self-interest is limited to themselves, while also feeling entitled to the progress supported by the many.

  • *Abdominal obesity: Although I lost 2KG with a strict eating plan and nearly daily exercise, I still gained size around my waist, making it clear that this is not bloating or typical weight gain.
  • **Increased hunger and cravings: This almost placed me in a depressive episode. It's an unusually cruel thing to eat and eat and still feel your body starving for nutrients.
  • ***Fatigue and low energy levels: Although this has not settled in quite yet, I am already struggling with energy throughout the day and my sleep schedule is showing some disruption.
  • ****Skin changes: My scalp is now often itchy due to breakouts from psoriasis, alongside itchiness in my ear canals from eczema. There's also a rough and dark patch on my neck that is once again growing in thickness and colour.