I knew my blood sugar was high and I ignored it. Why? Other than a pesky number, I had no symptoms. Zero. Zilch. Nada. I let it ride – for years.
And then a couple months ago, I was reading about losing weight and read about complications that stem from Type 2 diabetes. Click this link to read more. Go ahead, I’ll wait right here.
See? The stuff that won’t kill you leads to death. When I read this Riley was 6 years old. My grandchildren are younger. And my older children want me to stick around a while longer, too. As does Christy.
I was an idiot for ignoring it.
Out of Control…
I bought a meter and resolved to start measuring my blood sugar. Finding myself with numbers, and being the geek that I am, I popped the numbers into Microsoft Excel and then created a chart:
The blue line is actual readings, the orange line is a running average of the readings. The first three days of readings were, well, scary. I was drinking too many sodas. I cut those way down. I was eating sweets. I cut those way down too. Any engineer can look at those first three days and know those readings represent a process out of control.
I was out of control.
On My Own…
I tried to fix this on my own and you can see the results on that “first shelf” after the three crazy days. I was able to change the numbers by behaving differently, but blood sugar levels above 300 are still dangerous. I realized I couldn’t fix this on my own.
I made an appointment with my doctor. He prescribed a couple medications, warned me – scared me, even more – about the complications of Type 2 diabetes, and told me I was fortunate to be vertical. The medications helped, as did the fear. You can see the large fall-off on the chart after the second disrupted section of the blue line. (When processes respond to change, disruption is normal.) I returned to the doctor two days later and, though my blood sugar had dropped, it still hovered around 200. The doctor conducted an A1C test (which read off the scale, literally – the reading was “>14″) and prescribed a third medication.
About this time, my (favorite) mother-in-law recommended the book Eat to Live by Dr. Fuhrman. I started the diet when I started the third medication. The three medications and the diet worked together to bring my blood sugar down to normal. In fact, my blood sugar was actually low at my latest appointment. So much so that the doctor reduced the number and amount of medications!
Dr. Fuhrman’s book has taught me a lot about how my body works. He starts with a formula which appeals to me as an engineer. the formula is H = N / C. Health equals Nutrition per Calorie. That makes sense. Calories are energy. Nutrients contain little (if any) calories but are necessary for maintaining health. So, I can maximize health by consuming more nutritious calories.
I like the idea of this diet because it focuses on what to eat instead of what to not eat. This is a good diet for anyone, diabetic or not.
I strongly encourage anyone interested in this diet to read the Eat to Live book. I have a fruit salad for breakfast that consists of three fruits, at least. I also have some yogurt. For lunch I have a large salad and some beans. For supper I have a little meat, lots of cooked vegetables, and more beans. I try to hold the calories to 1,800 per day.
Running and Weight…
I have been overweight for two decades. I’ve been running for the past three years. I even ran a half-marathon last year. I’m not fast – I run a mile in 12-15 minutes. Many people can walk faster than I run. I’ve been running because, when I started, Riley was 3 years old… (see above). My weight when I started running was 248 pounds. I’ve been steadily losing weight since. I didn’t weigh myself much during the three years; I measured myself by the waist size of my pants. When I started running I wore pants with a 44″ waist.
Depending on who manufactures the pants, I have either a 38″ or 36″ waist these days. My doctor weighs me regularly, and I weigh 219 pounds at the time of this writing.
The Hard Part…
I was embarrassed by the knowledge I have Type 2 diabetes. Although I didn’t know much about the disease, I knew I had been eating poorly most of my life. And I knew that impacted the condition. I was wrong about that:
Eating poorly is the condition. Diabetes is merely a symptom.
I’m past my “dumb Americans” phase in life. (God loves Americans. Christ died for Americans. And Hondurans. And Ukrainians. And Russians. And even members of Islamic State. He died for everyone.) We Americans enjoy conveniences like no other. We don’t appreciate them because we grew up in an environment saturated with convenient food and drink. Other cultures look at us with a mix of wonder and disgust because of our affluence. Compared to most cultures, most poor people in America are rich.
The hard part was the first step in any 12-step program, admitting I have a problem, and that the problem is more than I can handle alone – that my life was out of control. I would love to tell you it got easy after that, but it didn’t. Maybe the easy part is yet to come, but right now dieting and poking a hole in a finger two or three times each day is hard. Yes, the results are encouraging. Yes, I am incredibly blessed to have not fallen into a diabetic coma when my blood sugar was north of 600.
Admitting my powerlessness is not easy, but it is the right thing to do.
The Other Hard Part…
Christ has used so much of my embarrassment to encourage others that I am now conditioned to respond to embarrassment with the expectation that I will share it eventually. So here goes…
If I can stop drinking a six-pack of Pepsi’s per day and eating M&M’s by the handful between meals, I believe anyone can stop. Look at these symptoms:
- Urinating often
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
Are experiencing any of these symptoms? Make a doctor’s appointment and have an A1C and fasting blood sugar test.
Trust me: There are people in your life who love you and want to see you continue living, and enjoying life, for years to come. Don’t be an idiot like I was.