Diabetes After Chemo

I woke up this morning with a blood sugar of 205mg/dl.  Very NOT OK.  Before chemo it was between 65-85 mg/dl nearly every day, and rarely over 100 mg/dl (where it’s still tolerable).  After getting off of all chemo, it’s been around 140; sometimes lower.  I don’t know what’s going on this morning.

Ever since being on chemo, my blood sugar control has been totally nuts. There has been no control, but oddly, my A1C in February was 6.7, or around there. I was amazed. I expected it to be over 7 for sure. Usually it’s well below 6.  I’ve had great control, with a fair amount of effort.  My body is still figuring out it’s new normal since the leukemia.  The blood sugars (and need for more insulin) don’t help the weight loss issue.  Insulin stores fat. I need to lose the forty pounds I gained while on chemo.

I have to admit, my carb counting has been ‘fair’.  I know the carb counts of most things, and do look at labels, but I’m not doing the extensive counting that I did before. I need to get back to doing that.   I don’t want to go blind, lose a leg, or have kidney failure.  Nope.  Don’t want those on top of what’s already wrong with me; I’d end up in assisted living before I’m 50 years old.

I took the usual amount of NovoLog insulin this morning, and added a bit because of the psycho fasting blood sugar.  Now (2 hours later), my blood sugar is 135mg/dl.  I’m glad it’s going down, but not sure I’d planned for it to drop that fast.  It still needs to get considerably lower before it’s a problem.  I’ll be sticking my fingers a lot today.  It’s sort of a ‘sick day’, except I can’t figure out what is ‘sick’…

Chemo changed a lot of what had been controlled: my weight, my blood sugars, and my insulin dose.  I’ve been off of chemo for nearly a year (11 months).  I’m going to have to go back to the rigid counting and figure out the new insulin:carb ratios.  My I:C ratios had been so steady before.   It’s been nearly 2 1/2 years since the initial diagnosis.  I have to remember my ‘old normal’ way of dealing with the diabetes, and apply it again to this ‘new normal’… which isn’t normal at all.  It’s a lot like starting from square one.

My physical situation is such that sitting exercises are all I can do.  If I walk more than the distances inside my apartment, I have to use a walker. Or shopping cart.  My balance gets iffy. So exercising is a problem.  I’d love to walk around the neighborhood on cooler days.   That IS my ‘old normal’ and ‘usual decrepit’ – LOL.  That is back to ‘normal’, which hasn’t been ‘normal’ for a long time.  I’d torn my left ACL and meniscus (mildly) the summer before the leukemia diagnosis, and because of beginning to feel lousy (thinking I was just being a slug) I postponed the knee replacement that was recommended.  When those big ball players roll around whimpering or screaming on the field after their knees go out, they aren’t being weenies- that HURTS. I’d been using a walker in my apartment up until the morning I was admitted to the hospital when I was diagnosed with leukemia.  Being physically limited is nothing new.  Anyway, I’d like to exercise more, but it isn’t generally safe.

So, I’ve got to buckle down and get these blood sugars under control.   I’ve got to lose weight. And I’ve got to get it done without triggering old eating disorder habits.  Sometimes it seems overwhelming.  Sigh.  But I’ve got to do something.

Published by JillinoisRN

A disabled RN who is still trying to find ways to help people. I've got a lot of interests, and a lot of things I'd like to convey to people.... whether they want to 'hear' them remains to be seen :)

6 thoughts on “Diabetes After Chemo

  1. I want to leave a comment that is insightful and wise but all I can’t think of is sadness. Im there with you though. Ive been up and down wrt glucose levels and I’m (I think) about in control of it with diet. But I’m also with you on the walking problem – I really want to get out and walk down the road and in the farmers field and get some fresh air, but my gammy leg won’t let me. I might not be able to walk down the road with you, but I walk with you in spirit.

    1. It’s hard ! I was first diagnosed in 1995 (a pre-employment urine test) and managed to get it under control with diet and exercise (my initial A1C was 10.2). I avoided insulin for 12 years, but it turned out to be the best thing ever ! Richard Simmons “Sit Tight” is a DVD for sitting exercises- and it’s tough ! He also has toning bands that help with muscle tone. I’m not consistent with it, but they’re helpful. ❤ Take care- we can support each other 🙂

      1. Ill check that DVD out – I assume you can get it in the UK too. I am struggling with the exercise stuff (DM causes muscles problems) but i HAVE to exercise, its finding the right amount thats tricky, too much and you cause injury, too little and your muscle turns to fat, its hard. I was really upset when they told me i was borderline diabetic because of the steroids. Last test was OK and I think i can keep it in control, but I’m hoping i f i can get to a really low does of steroid that’ll resolve it. Must help with you being a nurse as you must know a lot of this and can at least look it up and understand the terminology too.

        1. It’s on Amazon or Richard Simmons website – I’m pretty sure they’d ship it to the UK. If you have any trouble, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do 🙂

          Being a nurse does help with the terminology and lab values. Muscle doesn’t really turn to fat- but it loses tone/mass. Fat can’t turn to muscle- they’re two different things. Muscle burns more calories than fat.

          Diabetes doesn’t mean automatic muscle problems at all. There can be pain from neuropathies- but those usually happen after years of poor blood sugar control. Is there something like fibromyalgia going on? Or maybe muscle pain from the steroids? Other chemo? I had horrible muscle/joint pain when I was on chemo…

          High blood sugar is a side effect of steroids… when you get off of them, it is very possible that your blood sugars will be fine.

          1. Oh its the dermatomyositis causing the muscle pain for sure – the diabetes is from the steroids but i think i have that under control now, well last blood test it was anyway.

            Useful to know about the muscle not turing to fat because I was worried about that a lot. I need to try and exercise though as DM causes muscles loss.

  2. I took care of diabetics for 20 years, and have had it for 17 years- I’ve never heard of diabetes causing muscle loss… ? (There are Olympic athletes with diabetes). Some people who inject insulin in the same place have fat changes (lumpiness from not rotating sites).

    Also, the blood sugar changes from the steroids aren’t the same as ‘regular’ diabetes. Diabetes is from the pancreas. Steroids cause more glucose to be released from the liver. You don’t have diabetes from steroids- but you have similar symptoms because of the steroids causing glucose elevations 🙂 If your pancreas stops working normally, then you can get type II diabetes. Someone who has NO insulin production from their pancreas has type I diabetes. Steroids can make diabetes and blood sugars worse for sure. But they don’t make someone diabetic. Check out the Joslin Diabetes Center online – they do more research than anybody in the world… good resource 🙂 Steroid diabetes goes away when the steroids do… if you’re on steroids for life, then it gets a bit dicier….

    Lack of activity from side effects of meds causing fatigue can cause muscle tone decrease (got that !!). Lack of activity can also cause muscle atrophy (shrinking). But the muscle will still be there- just in a wimpier form (I’ve got some wimpy ones- LOL). 🙂

    Maybe this will help 🙂 I hope this doesn’t seem snotty 🙂


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