Christopher Braithwaite, 35, was a paramedic for seven years when he entered the emergency room at Baptist Hospital of Miami as a patient, suspecting he had high blood sugar levels. But even the hospital's experienced staff was surprised when their laboratories returned and their glucose reading was 705.
"And the doctor told me: 'You're a living dead,'" recalls Braithwaite, who had felt weak, constantly thirsty and urinating frequently. "She said my blood sugar level was probably in the 1,000s earlier in the day, she said that anyone who comes in here with a blood sugar level of 700 is generally unconscious."
That was on April 22 of this year, when Mr. Braithwaite's already busy and traumatic life went further with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and potentially having to face years of insulin injections and other medications to control his level of sugar in the blood. Normal glucose readings for healthy individuals should fall between 70-100 mg / dL when fasting, and less than 180 after meals. A blood sugar reading near or in 1,000 usually puts a person in a diabetic coma or unconsciousness.
Most people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes do not "appear as dramatically" as Mr. Braithwaite did, says Pascual De Santis, MD, an endocrinologist at Baptist Health Primary Care, who helps guide the paramedic through their post-diagnosis adjustments that include significant changes in lifestyle, such as better nutrition, weight loss and regular exercise.
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