Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The BAD news (Part 2)

The bad news? I'll be joining the Lipitor (cholesterol lowering medication) club for the rest of my life in a short time. :(

I would like to touch on the basics if anything to help me see it on paper and possibly educate any of those out there who are a bit confused on the topic.  I only know what I've learned through my own research so don't take my lousy word for it.

I think there are metric and imperial differences for cholesterol levels so I won't post numbers. I'm only going to touch on the basics LDL and HDL cholesterol. LDL is the bad kind and is the one effected by not exercising and eating a diet high in saturated fat. HDL is the good kind which is effected also by exercise and a diet high in Omega fats. You want your LDL as low as possible and your HDL as high as possible. Your elevated LDL is what increases the risk for CVD (Cardiovascular Disease).

Here are some risk factors with how they affect my risk in BLUE.  Also some tips on avoiding elevated LDL levels.

You are at risk if:

1. You are male and over 40
2. You are female and over 50 or post-menopausal  I am female under 40
3. You have heart disease, stroke, diabetes or high blood pressure  Diabetes, yep
4. Your waist measures more than 40" for men or 35" for women  NOPE
5. You have family history of heart disease or stroke  MAYBE but don't we all probably?

Tips on avoiding elevated LDL

1.  Quit smoking  I don't smoke
2.  Get regular physical activity  I get MORE than regular activity
3.  Eat a healthy low-fat diet high in fruits and vegetables  Healthy vegetarian here, CHECK
4.  Limit how much alcohol you drink  I haven't touched alcohol since I was 18
5.  Reduce fat intake to 20-35% of your daily calories  Already eat low-fat
6.  Choose healthy fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated  I eat lots of avocados, nuts and olive oil
7.  Limit your intake of saturated fat  I eat a small amount
8.  Avoid trans fats  Won't touch anything with trans fat in it
10.  Use lower-fat cooking methods such as baking, broiling or steaming.  Avoid fried food.  I almost never eat anything fried

As the years have gone by I have watched my LDL creeping up every 3 months and I am now in the danger zone. It is a stubborn bitch and refuses to react to anything I say or do.  As you can see in the blue text, given all my lifestyle choices, there's no reason why I should have such a dangerously high LDL except for the fact that I have diabetes.  Unless of course it is just beyond my control.  The more I exercise and the longer I eat healthy the higher my LDL goes.  That makes NO sense what-so-ever.   Blasted thing pisses me off.   Here is what I found on how it is effected by Type 1 Diabetes:

"Lack of insulin (and the high blood sugar that results) raises the level of LDL.  It returns to normal when insulin is given.  People with type 1 diabetes had cholesterol similar to people without diabetes when their blood sugar levels were kept within a near-normal range."

I know, it's pretty vague.  This doesn't make complete sense for me personally because my cholesterol has gone up despite me gaining better control and despite me not really having any risk factors at all.  Thanks to the insane exercise, my HDL is above the healthy range (which is excellent). I got the "It's just you" response from my endo.  Translation: my luck sucks.  Dude, yeah, I've come to expect that.

This impending doom of life-long cholesterol lowering medication causes a few issues which are a bit too personal to write here.  It's a chain reaction where I have decisions to make in the next 6 months to a year.  Some of you PWD will read between the lines so I know you might know what I'm getting at.

I am not too pleased to add more drugs but I was aware that it was inevitable so I'm not playing stupid here.  Its also not so much taking the drugs that is getting me down it is the reality check.  What is this disease REALLY doing to my body?  What's really going on in there?  Furthermore, I have always been a firm believer of lifestyle changes to prevent stuff like this.  I have tried to change my LDL for many years now and have not only been unsuccessful but the opposite effect has happened.  My LDL continues to rise.

I am curious what the consensus is out there with PWD.  How many struggle with high cholesterol that is most likely primarily due to just "having diabetes".  How many of you guys take meds for it?  I remember my endo saying at my last appointment that usually by 10 years it's the norm.  I'm going on 9.  Which is why I'm not surprised.  I was just really hoping that my hard work would really lower my LDL.  There is almost nothing I could do lifestyle change wise now that I'm not already doing.

Curious to see that I'm not the only one.


  1. I don't believe you've failed at all.
    We do what we gotta do, even when we don't like it.

  2. You didn't do anything wrong, the bottom line is that diabetes sucks! Even when you do everything so-called "right" it sometimes comes and kickes you butt anyways! NO consolation I know.

    I too was told the same thing at my last endo appt (re: my cholesterol). It was explained to me that (and I'm fully paraphrasing)insulin confuses the body and just like other autoimmune problems associated with diabetes, taking insulin tricks the body into thinking that the good cholesterol (HDL) is actually bad and vice versa. Therefore our bodies often hold onto the bad stuff and get rid of the good stuff... making us angry and frustrated bec we're doing "everything right and this junk still happens".

    This is essentially how it was explained to me. I hope that made sense.
    All the best.

  3. I've been a type 1 diabetic for over 36 years, and my cholesterol levels have consistently been excellent. At my last appointment, my LDL was finally "near optimal" instead of "optimal."
    My endo pointed it out as something to watch, but I've always thought cholesterol was over-stressed in current medicine.
    While many doctors aggressively watch and treat high LDL cholesterol as if it was a real medical condition, others say that this is like blaming firemen for fires because you always see them together. Cholesterol is how our bodies react to and try to repair blood vessel damage.
    I'm not a doctor, or anything.
    But you're not a failure, you've done everything you should concerning cholesterol.
    I'm not successful at controlling my cholesterol. I haven't done anything to keep it down.
    If your LDL remains a little high, stressing out about it won't help.
    And you may never feel any bad effects from high LDL cholesterol.

  4. My cholesterol is okay, and I feel blessed that it's one of the only blood/heart/cardiovascular things I don't have to worry about. (I take a Beta Blocker and ACE Inhibitor for other stuff).

    But yes, it's frustrating when you feel like you're doing everything right and being punished for it, especially when there are bajillions out there who don't pay attention to their health at all and have not a problem in the world (yet).

    Maybe you should try a "Do Everything Wrong" trial for a few weeks, where you eat everything fried, drink like a fish and take up smoking cigars -- just to see what happens!

  5. Thanks guys. A lot of good suggestions. Especially you, Jacquie!
    Amanda and Jerry - your comments have made a huge difference in my attempt at understanding. As all my endo said was "it's just you" which really didn't go over well. WTF? that's ALL you can say? dumbass.

  6. Big hugs, my friend. If it's any consolation, I had to join the same club 3 months ago. I've been watching it for 7 years -- tried all kinds of things and managed to keep it borderline until a year ago. Sigh. Great. Just freaking great.

  7. Scully...YOU ARE DOING IT ALL RIGHT...which scares the FUCK out of me as Joe's mom.

    I teared up reading this in your post...and I quote: " Its also not so much taking the drugs that is getting me down it is the reality check. What is this disease REALLY doing to my body? What's really going on in there?"

    I don't know how it feels to be a PWD, but I can only imagine at times like this it is like your body is working against you.

    Love to you!


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