My Stages of LADA Diabetes

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Here’s a quick summary of where I’ve been and where I am now!  LADA diabetes is considered a progressive illness, in that overtime the pancreas will likely produce less insulin.

Stage 0: Before I was Diabetic

I had normal blood glucose test results.  Yes, during all my childhood, and until approximately age 30, my test results were 100% normal.  I never thought I would get diabetes.

I had a normal body weight when I was a child and a teenager, but in my 20s, like many people, I put on the pounds.   I went from weighing 120 pounds to about 165 pounds.  I was worried about this extra weight and found it difficult to lose weight.

Stage 1: Undiagnosed Diabetes

Then suddenly, I began losing weight.  I was looking good!!  Sure, I was thirsty a lot, but that wasn’t too unusual… or was it?  I was peeing a lot too.  But, the thirst was worse.

The weight loss was really good, wasn’t it?  It took me awhile before I realized that these were all symptoms of diabetes.  Losing weight was a sign that I was sick.

Other symptoms of diabetes:

  • Being really THIRSTY
  • Having to PEE a lot

Stage 2: Misdiagnosed Diabetes

Like a lot of people with LADA diabetes, I was treated with Metformin and other oral medications.  These medications are primarily for treating Type 2 Diabetes.   LADA diabetes is often misdiagnosed as Type 2 Diabetes.

LADA diabetes is supposed to be treated like Type 1.  Insulin is the correct treatment.  Insulin is what my body needed.  But, Metformin was cheap and it actually did work for awhile.  But, I had to eat a super low carb diet and exercise all of the time, and then over time, the Metformin stopped working too.

When the oral medications stopped working, I went to see an endocrinologist and she diagnosed me with LADA Diabetes, to be treated as Type 1.

I had experienced the end of the “honeymoon” phase, as doctors call it.   At first, other diabetes treatments like a diet change, exercise, or medications, may work because your pancreas is still producing insulin.

Stage 3: Insulin, 1-2x a Day

My body was still making some insulin, so my doctor just prescribed the long lasting form of insulin, for me to take twice a day.   Morning and night, I gave myself injections, and my blood glucose did better, and my A1C got better too, but I noticed that after meals, it was usually high…

I started to wonder how high should it be going after meals?  Am I getting the right treatment?  Around this time, I switched doctors and I raised this concern to my new endocrinologist.  She prescribed a quick acting form of insulin to use in addition to the long lasting type.

Stage 4: Insulin at Meals too

When checking my blood sugar after meals, it was high. This meant that my body needed more insulin.  My new doctor prescribed quick acting insulin for mealtime injections.  For the first time, I have more control over my diabetes… I could inject quick acting insulin before my meal and my blood glucose was much better controlled. I also could give myself a small correction bolus of insulin to bring down my blood glucose when high. With fast acting insulin, I finally had a solution to bring my blood glucose into a normal range. Quick acting insulin still takes over an hour to work fully, so it does still require patience. However, it was a relief to have a solution. Up until this point, my only “solution” was to eat less and exercise.

Stage 5: Insulin Pump and I start thinking of myself as Type 1

While Multiple Daily Injections (MDI) is a perfectly fine treatment choice, I decided that I wanted to try an insulin pump, because I didn’t like doing so many injections. Read about my decision to start on an insulin pump. I also recently upgraded my insulin pump and the technology really makes my life easier.

At this point, I feel like there’s little difference between me and someone with Type 1, except that I don’t require as much insulin as some people. My pancreas may still be making some insulin. However, I still have to dose insulin for every meal. I have to do everything that someone with Type 1 has to do.  I’ve got LADA but I’m fully in the Type 1 world now.

About the Author

Lin May has a decade of experience living with LADA diabetes and is the author of Success with LADA Diabetes: Achieving Optimal Health with Diet, Exercise, and Insulin. She is dedicated to helping others learn about diabetes.


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2 responses to “My Stages of LADA Diabetes”

  1. Hello Lin. Interesting to meet another LADA Lady. I developed LADA after a short bout of Covid My A1C went from 5.6 to 10.9 over a two week period and it was just by chance that my blood was tested the 2nd time. My doctor started me on Metformin immediately but after conferring with an Endo, I was advised to get insulin immediately – which horrified me! All sorts of tests were run and within the week I was diagnosed with LADA. Slow actingLantus only at night for one week to look at the numbers and then started on fast acting pre-meal Humalog. I am at the stage where I only need insulin pre the evening meal (and then the nighttime dose). Question for you. You say you inject quick acting insulin when your blood sugar is too high? I have been advised to not do that. It’s all about adjusting the pre-meal dose to cover the meal and the insulin should be injected 15 premeal and/or immediately afterwards.

    1. It’s called a correction bolus. It’s important to not do a correction bolus if insulin was already given recently, as that may cause insulin stacking. To calculate this, you need to know what your correction factor is. More information at https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/health-wellness-and-safety-resources/resources-for-parents-and-kids/managing-your-diabetes/chapter-seven-calculating-bolus-injections

      Your doctor is correct that it’s best to adjust your pre-meal dose. However, there can be situations where you blood glucose stays high and short acting insulin can be used to correct it. The problem is that even short acting insulin takes 1-2 hours before it peaks, so you need to give it time. The link above says not to do a correction bolus if you’ve done a bolus in the last 3 hours.

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