Reading and Researching

The diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes causes — as might be expected — a plethora of confusion, questioning, uncertainty and fear. Life isn’t a bed of roses, and so being confronted with a new challenge, the first thing I do is start trying to understand what it is I’m being confronted by.

One good thing about traveling is the time it affords one to read; nothing makes an airplane ride go by faster than a good read. Same with bus trips. Both of which I have had in abundance lately.

So, I’ve bought and borrowed from the library, a number of books, which I think deserve some recognition. The first is “The Diabetes Code,” by Jason Fung, MD., a book the site Diet Doctor says, “should change the world.” Subtitled, “Prevent and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally,” the book is a wealth of medical information and practical advice.

Another is “Goodbye, Pills & Needles: A Total Re-Think of Type II Diabetes. And A 90 Day Cure,” by Tom Jelenik, PhD.

I’ve also been reading the articles on understandingtype2diabetes.com, a free web site written by a Ken Stephens, who isn’t selling anything, and actually seems to minimize his personal identity on the site. Stephens writes he was diagnosed as Type 2 (sometimes abbreviated as T2D) and his site is the result of his own research. I confess, I like a lot of what he writes.

In fact, all of the sources listed above all have in common the same basic idea: Diabetes is an epidemic and that it is mostly caused by lifestyle choices that sometimes we aren’t even aware of.

Truthfully, I first found myself in this camp during my running years. I still have linked to George Mataljan’s World’s Healthiest Foods site, and I own several books by Joel Fuhrman, MD., who to me is the “godfather” of the “eating healthy” movement.

The upshot of the above is, to me, evidence of a growing awareness into the problem — and solution — to the ever-increasing number of people who have been diagnosed (or will be diagnosed) as diabetic. The main medical community seems reluctant to rethink the carbohydrate-heavy diet promulgated by the government and the big sugar and corn interests, when all around them the evidence is right in front of their faces.

I started this post, thinking it was just going to be a touch point, a brief update. But it’s gotten longer that I thought, so I’ll end it here.

A Pain In The… Neck

This diabetes thing is going to turn me into a grumpy old man.

Even though I currently feel no differently than I did before I was diagnosed, I’ve been prescribed medication that I must take twice a day, and remembering to do so — especially with the schedule I keep — has proven problematic. And the only way I have to track my improvement is to take a blood glucose reading three times a day, every other day.

This has been the infuriating part of this new life. The Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) gave me a kit containing an Accu-Chek reader, a lancet device and some reader strips.

My doctor sent in a prescription for additional lancets and strips, which I got after a small bit of confusion and mix-up. I’m not entirely sure why I needed (or need) a prescription, as these all seem to be over-the-counter products. My problem is that every time I try to test my blood, the device tells me that the blood drop is too small and to try with a new strip. I have wasted more strips this way than actually getting readings. After three finger-pricks, I’ve had it, and put the stuff away. It also costs me in used lancets.

This isn’t the way to manage this disease. I know. I have tossed all my white foods (pastas, sugar, rice, bread, potatoes) and am trying to maintain a healthy diet. It’s pretty easy for me to do that at home, but when I travel on business, as I am currently, it becomes quite a challenge.

Today, my first day on a five-day business trip, I skipped breakfast due to an early flight, and then when I arrived, had to find a restaurant that served healthy cooking. I was fortunate, as when I asked my server if I could have a double portion of vegetables in place of mashed potatoes, she was kind enough to offer me a soup and salad in place, so I stayed as low-carb as possible. At dinner, I opted for (another) bowl of soup and a dozen chicken wings. Again, not ideal, but as low-carb as I could make it.

Somehow, I’ve got to overcome this glucose metering issue. I’m likely going to have to keep testing myself, and I have to find the solution to doing so quickly, easily, and accurately.


The Acceptance Factor

I was recently diagnosed as Diabetic. I’m still processing that news. I guess at some point in everyone’s life, bad news about one’s health is inevitable. After all, no one lives forever.

My surprise came at the fact that I do not fit the profile of a Type-2 diabetic; I’m not overweight (5’10”, 147 lbs. a BMI of 21.1 – smack dab in the middle of “normal”), I don’t drink alcohol, sugary beverages, smoke, dine at fast-food restaurants, am relatively active, and feel great! But there it was: blood tests showed my hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c, also referred to simply as A1C) level at 13.

According to WebMD, a normal A1C reading is below 5.6. 5.7 to 6.4 suggests a pre-diabetes condition, and anything over is 100% diabetic. My test at 13 showed I had over twice the level of glycolated hemoglobin.

HbA1c Readings

So, in the face of immediate denial, I thought back on my behaviors over the past year. Sure, I don’t drink soda pop or eat greasy fast food, but I have been gorging on Starburst candies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and lots of ice cream. Add pasta, rice and potato dishes more often than not, and there was certainly a recipe for disaster!

Starburst Candies
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The “mini” size

A wake-up call, for sure! Here I am, a former marathon runner, getting old, sedentary and careless about my diet. My second thought, post-denial, is that diabetes is one condition that is managed by self-care. There are some, like Joel Fuhrman, MD, who believe that Type-2 diabetes is completely reversible! This is accomplished by adopting a new way of eating — a “nutritarian” approach, that focuses not on macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrates), but on food that are dense with nutrients, phytochemicals, vitamins, etc. He has a simple formula: H = N / C, where H is health, N is nutrients and C is calories. Focusing on macronutrients means counting calories. Focusing on micronutrients automatically reduces calorie intake and feeds (literally) the body what it needs.

There’s a lot of (often contradictory) information and advice online. While I’ve been researching, I’ve also started building a healthcare “team.” I now have a primary care physician, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), an endocrinologist, and a dietician. In addition, I include my dentist, eyecare doctor and dermatologist. I will likely add a podiatrist to the list. But the “boss” of my health care is ME.

As in running, this battle will not be a sprint, but a marathon. I may experience setbacks, but I’m determined to lick this condition!