Diabetes and a Gila Monster (pronounced "Heelah" Monster) may seem like a strange partnership. (I thought so too. I'll explain later in this review, so hang on.)
When my blood sugars recently raged out of control due to family stresses, and lack of personal care, I knew I needed to do something fast. I had been on oral medications for many years, but they just weren't working for me anymore like they once did.
I feared that my next step was going to be the needle--something that I had dreaded for a long time. My mom is a diabetic, and I had seen the ravages of the disease, coupled with the frightening low blood sugars that would often occur with the insulin. I also knew that insulin was famous for causing weight gain, and I knew that was the last thing I needed.
So I had a dilemma. But two nights before my doctor's appointment, I was leisurely browsing through a CVS drug store, and happened to stop at the book and magazine rack. There I saw a book about "Losing Weight On Your Diabetes Medications." Of course, given my situation, this caught my eye. I bought it, and discovered the relatively new injectable drug for diabetes called Byetta. Much to my surprise and thrill, I read that it did not cause lows unless taken in combination with certain diabetes drugs that contributed to low blood sugar. It also did not cause weight gain. To the contrary, it was found to suppress the appetite of many people, thereby contributing to weight loss. I was sold!!!!! (Now if I could just get my doctor as enthused.)
When I had my appointment 2 days later, I was resigned to going on the needle. I told my doctor, "I used to be more afraid of the needle, but now I am more afraid of the disease." My doctor agreed that it was time for a radical change as my last A1C was 11.4. (Normal is 6.0 and under.) When blood sugar stays too long at high levels, organs can be affected, as well as eyesight. It is no small thing, and I knew it.
I asked about the Byetta, and she thought it was a good idea for me. I needed to lose some weight, and if I could also avoid lows, then I would be happy. I have been on Byetta for about 3 weeks, and I immediately felt better. I lost 2 pounds in 2 weeks, and my energy level greatly improved. While I don't enjoy taking the shots, I am slowly getting used to it. There's just something about sticking myself with a needle that is a bit disconcerting, but you do what you have to do.
Many people have unbearable nausea on Byetta, and cannot tolerate it. I was so afraid that this would happen to me, but so far so good. I have not been nauseated at all. I am currently on the 5 mcg and there is also a 10 mcg dose. My doctor thought my blood sugars had improved quite well for the first 2 weeks, and chose to leave me on the 5 mcg for now. (Less side effects.)
Now for the Gila Monster part. The original idea came from the spit of a Gila Monster. The Gila Monster only eats about 2 or 3 times a year, so his stomach empties very slowly, which researchers thought was a good thing. They made a synthetic version of this lizard spit that works to slow down digestion, which keeps glucose from entering the bloodstream as quickly. It also stimulates the pancreas to release the correct amount of insulin, while signaling the liver not to produce too much glucose. Pretty neat, huh? You can't use the real lizard spit, as Gila Monsters are poisonous, and difficult to find, if you even dared to try. LOL!
Byetta users call it Lizard Spit, Lizzie, The Spit, The Lizard of AZ (since the Gila lives in Arizona), and other various crazy names. I affectionately call it "Gilly." As I said in my blog, a girly girl and a poisonous lizard have little in common, but we're sure trying to get along.
While Byetta is not a weight loss drug, many users have excellent results with losing weight (due to appetite suppression), and this contributes to better blood sugar control.
Byetta is to be used in conjunction with certain oral diabetes drugs, and is injected twice a day, just before the heaviest meals. You need to eat within an hour after injecting, for the best results.
I am seeing my numbers come down steadily, and I am also exercising and eating properly. Byetta is not a miracle drug, but it has done wonders for many people. I hope I'm one of them!