Saturday, 11 June 2011

Rootin’, tootin’ poopin’

So, as anyone who has spent a long time eating unhealthily food will tell you, or anyone who ever saw a Gillian McKeith programme before she lost it in the jungle (I won’t call her doctor as she wrote off for that qualification your bowels pay for it sooner or later.

Now I don’t normally write about the scatological elements in my blog for diabetes UK as it didn’t seem fitting, but mostly because I didn’t understand the potential side effects of metformin. That was until a chap called Terry wrote in to Jo Brodie’s blog on the Diabetes UK website.

Terry’s comments triggered a rash of responses that gave me the confidence to explore the topic from my own personal view. I’ll try to keep this as clean as possible – which is one of the more extreme problems people can have with the side effects of metformin. The ultimate aim of this blog is for people not to feel alone in their struggle with the ‘betes’.

As I have this weird bit of type 1 knocking about in my system alongside the type 2 I had a sudden period (explored in previous blogs) where my blood sugars shot up. At first I put it down to getting over the initial shock of discovery and eating less strictly, but ultimately I just needed more pills. I doubled my dose of metformin from 1000g to 2000g and started taking Gliclazide at the same time.

I guess I heard from someone along the way that metformin can upset your stomach. Some time into this new regime the rumblings started, gentle at first like Mount Etna, but within a relatively short period of time it all went Eyjafjallajökull. Which is both an Icelandic volcano and an onomatopoeia. This kept happening, and in fact the pills were leaving me as quickly as they were going in – I was never quite sure if I should take more to replace the ones that quite helpfully floated (sorry, but it’s true they do)! Ultimately I decided they were slow release so I better had.

It was sometimes quite a desperate race to work. Now I wasn’t sure if this was the metformin or something worse. I’m a Jewish male in my mid (to late) 30s and we are a group particularly susceptible to Crohn’s disease (an inflammation of the intestines with serious consequences), plus my Dad and Uncle both have it. I did get worried when I went through about two weeks with diarrhea.

Then one day I forgot to take my four slow release metformin pills with breakfast as I always do. When I got to work I only had two spare ones in my draw. I took them and, you know what, the rumblings, like the London tube over the weekend, stopped dead. I had also been susceptible to approaching hypos around lunch time and these stopped too. So I kept it up with two. Things went ok for a bit but ultimately I had to step it up to three, which is where I am now.

I recently went for an HBA1C test – which they can do in 6 minutes now with a finger prick, do ask for it where it’s available – and it was 6.5, the lowest it has been since diagnosis. The nurse was happy with my metformin regime and confirmed that we sufferers are the real experts. I do a fair bit of exercise which helps control things too.

So if your stomach is a rumblin’ and a tumblin’ and you feel that urgency no one ever wants to feel, you could try talking to your nurse or doctor about reducing your dose for a bit and see what happens to your sugar levels. If you do some exercise as well it might help enormously. But most importantly, you aren’t alone, speak to someone about it and make the change that is right for you.


  1. Stumbled upon you my diabetic friend on the GP news via the link. I've read most of your blogs now with some interest and the first thing I have to say is 'everything you've been told about diabetes is WRONG'.
    That you're on more than metformin despite the fact you've only ben a diabetic for a couple of years is witness to this. The first thing you have to do is ignore the D-UK missives to eat carbs! All rapidly metabolise into glucose just like sucrose. Be a sceptic, my wife has had NIDDM for a year longer than you and never taken any drugs, ever. I think metformin in low numbers is just about acceptable but if you eat any carbs above 20g a day, you will progress. Downhill! There are numerous good people out there including some Doctors who know what they are doing and you need to read what they say and then make up you're own mind. There aint no cure but the is a path that will keep you out the wheelchair in the dialysis suite, if you care to tread it.
    I'll write some more but if you look at my blog from the followers link you may see what I mean.
    Stay healthy my friend.

  2. So many red flags in this response that I don't know where to start. Anyone who is entirely sure of anything to do with diabetes is a huge red flag. Spreading fear with some unsuported statement and then offering hope if you listen to this one guru. It's also a bit patronising which isn't a red flag but it is annoying.

  3. I'm only sure of one thing about NIDDM Andrew, and that is a low carb diet is essential to get the plasma glucose down to near normal levels. I didn,t say nor ever would I that I have all the answers. All I said was that you should read some of the alternative views to the mainstream paradigm.

    There are a lot of vested interests in Diabetes care, you only have to see the ADA's site in the US which almost exactly is tracked by D-UK, to see the faults and interests at play. As for unsupported statements, well I support all that I say and indeed do entirely based on science and perhaps you might take a look at my critique of the latest missive from NICE on my blog

    I only patronise those who write the rubbish I detract from, not you.

  4. Your articles don’t beat around the bushes exact t to the point.