I’ve had type 2 for 20 years and now my doctor wants me to start insulin – it makes me feel like a failure.

Dear Counselor’s Corner:

I’ve had type 2 diabetes for 20 years and I’m treating it with oral medications. I admit my numbers aren’t as good as they could be, but I don’t have any major complications. Now my doctor wants me to go on insulin, and I feel like a failure.

-Michael from Indianapolis


Dear Michael,

When insulin is first recommended, so many people with type 2 diabetes feel just like you. In fact, it is probably the majority of people! But the truth is that you probably need to start insulin because your pancreas is failing, not you. Damn pancreas! This is the nature of type 2 diabetes: no matter what you do, it changes over time and can become harder to handle. This doesn’t mean that diabetes is now “worse” or more “severe”, it simply means we need to use new or additional tools (like insulin) to help you gain, or regain, great blood glucose control. Your doctor wants you to start insulin so that you can have better numbers, and therefore make it ever more likely that you can live a long and healthy life with diabetes. If it is insulin that is what is needed to help you get there, then go for it! With insulin, you can (like so many other people) do well, feel well, and succeed with diabetes. Bottom line: You’re only failing if you let your numbers continue to run high without taking positive action. Starting insulin is going to help you succeed!

  1. Dear Michael. You did well. You managed your Diabetes with the minimum medication. Just as you needed medication and not diet alone, it is time to help out that somewhat ineffective Pancreas out. The goal is to be as healthy as you can and with the least amount of additional health issues that can go with Diabetes. Twenty years with out needing Insulin., you must be doing something right. Remember to keep ALL those medical appoints: Labs, Eye, what ever your physician recommends. Remember some complications can be silent for a longtime. Keep on working on those good health needs. Carole from CA

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    Not oninsulin,take pills,pre-diabetic!

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    Insulin sounds like a death sentence. 3-4 times a week have no dairy and no meat diet. Eat less rice, oily food , bread and sweet food. Consume more salads and fruits. If your blood sugar is less than 10 mmols /L, you don’t need insulin injections. Don’t listen to the Dr if your bgl is always less than 10 mmols/L . The insulin injections will make you hypo easily. However if your bgls are always higher than 10 mmols/L then go for it.

    • I agree that if someone’s numbers on their current medication are above 10 mmols/L (180 mg/dL), insulin could be a great choice. I disagree that insulin is a horrible thing and dangerous. You have to use insulin correctly, and every person on this planet takes insulin, whether it’s from their own pancreas or injected.

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