A Really ‘Good’ Good Friday!

Friday, March 30 2018 will definitely be a date I remember and will do so with both joy and not just a modicum of pride.  I had scheduled an A1c test at the clinic; it was about time as I’ve been getting them every three months since my initial diagnosis of late onset Type 2 diabetes back on May 24, 2017.  At that time I tested a ‘14’ for my A1c and a real time blood glucose test showed 375 mg/dL.  To say I was devastated would be the mother of all understatements!  However, after a couple of days of a ‘pity party’ followed by a few days of denial I finally faced this fact, started researching the condition and began making preparations to really change my lifestyle.  It began an honest odyssey during which I learned so much while experiencing the frustrations, joys and confusion almost any diabetic knows only too well.  But the fear of insulin dependence drove my efforts; in hindsight it was amazing what fear can do when properly channeled!

By the next A1c in late August I saw a 6.0 and was ecstatic; across the next seven months I saw a 5.8 and, most recently, a 5.7.  I was pleased no end with these results as was my wonderful doctor (Dr. Joan).  As an aside I’ve always been distrustful of physicians in general and especially those espousing ‘western medicine’.  I believed far too many were in the practice only for the money and were willing pawns of ‘Big Pharma’.  I also believed most followed the ‘disease de jour’ concept and, if allowed to run enough tests, would always find a malady that had to be addressed.  Dr. Joan is none of these!  She is a warm, knowledgeable, caring and understanding physician who honestly listens to what I share with her.  I’ve never spent less time than 15 minutes in conversation with her at any of my appointments!  This is so refreshing after experiencing the ‘assembly line’ practice of so many doctors.

I expected Friday’s appointment to just be a blood draw and A1c test but it had been maybe four months since I’d seen a provider and I was encouraged to schedule such an appointment.  As luck would have it Dr. Joan had an opening just a half hour after my appointment for the A1c so I signed up.  During the exam I was weighed, had my feet examined, had my BP/pulse measured and answered a number of health questions.  When I saw Dr. Joan she was very pleased with the results.  She told me I had ‘healed myself’ regarding the late onset Type 2 diabetes and could now stop my daily blood glucose testing and just monitor as I saw fit.  I can also decrease my A1c testing to just twice a year.  The icing on this cake is the fact I have now halved my daily dose of Metformin HCl and, if my next A1c is 6 or lower, I can cease taking the medication all together! My BP measured 122/82 mm Hg which was very good given I had been seeing 160/115 mm Hg readings a year earlier when I was first diagnosed with severe hypertension.  While the medications I take helped the fact I exercise daily in the form of counting my steps and I’d worked hard to lose weight were probably the main drivers behind this decrease in my BP.  I’d shown a loss of another ten pounds across that four month period which meant by the clinic scales I had dropped almost sixty pound in the preceding year.  As Dr. Joan told me most patients my age only lose such large amounts of weight via bariatric surgery, so shedding so many pounds was remarkable in and of itself.

She was very interested in just what I was doing to have turned around my health situation so dramatically in a year’s time.  She knew about my 12,000+ daily steps but I filled her in regarding my low carb lifestyle – I eat between 95 grams and 60 grams of carbs a day and almost all are my ‘good’ carbs – and we talked about my learnings.  I shared I’d discovered I could indulge myself once a week with some ice cream with chocolate sauce without negatively impacting my blood glucose or my slow but steady weight loss.  I reiterated my ‘bad’ carbs were anything containing either starch or fructose.  The latter means my selection of fresh fruit is very limited but I do love the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries I can consume.  Sadly, any breads, rolls, crackers, potatoes, corn and similar are just plain ‘off the menu’.  But I’ve found a wonderful pasta substitute in ‘Miracle Noodles’.  Although a bit pricey they are an amazingly delicious pasta substitute and the firm also markets a variety of rice using the same component (shirataki noodles) with the same almost no calorie or carb content.

We also briefly touched on my depression which is now just a distasteful memory.  I’m still taking 50 mg of Sertraline (Zoloft) daily and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  Along with some counseling this combination appears to have vanquished the depression although mine has a history of coming and going in cycles.  Because of this I’m not about to proclaim I’m ‘cured’.  However, if taking the daily Sertraline prevents a re-occurrence, or even mitigates the intensity and duration if it does reappear, then it is well worth the cost.

Given all the aforementioned it isn’t difficult to see why I felt this past Good Friday was really a ‘GREAT’ Friday.  But more importantly, I discovered that I can take control of my physical situation and affect sweeping changes for the better.  I learned that diabetes is different for almost everyone and hence the only way to manage the condition is by putting in the required effort up front to do the research and then to meticulously monitor one’s dietary intake across months while doing daily blood glucose tests.  Sure, it is a long and often frustrating process but in doing so one will learn so much more about their body.  But perhaps most importantly I discovered I could ‘cure’ myself of a condition which affects millions of people and causes a myriad of negative side effects like increased chance of heart attacks, vision problems, foot issues and weight problems.  I had no idea I would get to this point; back in July or August of 2017 I figured I’d be testing my blood glucose level almost daily for the remainder of my life and always be concerned about my next A1c.

So if there’s anything I’d like a reader to take away from this piece it is simply this; “You are never too old to affect sweeping lifestyle changes!”  It is possible to incorporate such changes for the better and actually make them a part of one’s life.  Sure, I will never stop regulating my carb intake and I have to steer clear of those pesky starches and fructose containing foods but if one can view making such a commitment as a pledge to a healthier lifestyle it eventually becomes acceptable.  Of late I’ve told a few folks that getting that late onset Type 2 diabetes diagnosis in May of 2017 was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me; most cannot understand how I can make such an assertion.  It is simple to me; doing so forced me to seriously examine my lifestyle, face up to my situation and dedicate myself to making sweeping lifestyle changes which have allowed me to lose weight, shape up, eat healthier and feel so much better.  So who says ya can’t ‘teach and old dog new tricks?’…   

10 thoughts on “A Really ‘Good’ Good Friday!

  1. Praise God dear friend, our bodies are amazing, congrats Bill!

    • Thanks My Dear! Yes, our bodies can indeed do amazing things if we just give them the opportunity. I still have eighteen pounds to trim and I need to continue to improve my physical condition but I now feel I can make the required effort. Kinda sad I needed sixty four plus years to finally get my act together..!

  2. Wow, congrats! Good work! If everyone followed your example our health care woes and costs would drop dramatically.

    • Thanks! I’ll be honest, it was my extreme fear of being dependent on insulin that really drove me to straighten up. Most insulin users gain weight and that was the last thing I needed! It required maybe a week for me to settle down after the initial diagnosis, start my research, talk to friends struggling with diabetes and basically decide I was going to control my blood glucose…PERIOD! So far, so good but I hafta remain steadfast and stay the course…

  3. Wow, wonderful to read of your progress to better health. No diabetes here but am trying to get control over my weigh. You are inspiring !

    • Hi Gina – Glad you aren’t fighting diabetes; while it was a blessing in disguise for me it also caused me some real grief until I learned to manage the condition which required around three months. I’ve fought my weight my entire life but kinda gave up when I was forced into an early retirement thanks to all the outsourcing from 2004 through 2008. In no time I was morbidly obese and I carried that extra load for eleven years before the diabetes forced me into a low carb lifestyle and that, coupled with my daily stepping, really accelerated my weight loss. All my life I tried to lose weight by eating calorie deficient diets. Some worked okay for the short term but nothing worked over the long run. This is what has me enthused about my current low carb lifestyle; I’m rarely hungry, can eat a lot of different foods and still slowly drop the pounds. Because of the threat of seeing the late onset Type 2 diabetes return I’ll be eating low carb for the remainder of my life so as long as I can continue to exercise I should lose weight to a point at which I’ll be satisfied and, most importantly, hold said weight. No two people are the same and what works for someone probably won’t work for someone else but if asked I highly recommend eating low carb. I wish I’d known of the benefits twenty years back; I could’ve spared myself the years of starving for little to no real progress. Better late than never, I guess..! Thanks for following my blog and especially for the comments. And, of course, best of luck losing some weight!!

  4. Bill I think maybe it is only some ( fortunate few ) of us that can accomplish sweeping changes in our lifestyle.

    Your great progress shows a daunting will to overcome your future physical maladies an some people just do not have that much willpower.

    Now that’s not to say we should never try and make positive changes
    because one never knows what one can accomplish until we try.

    • Hey Pete – I had a lot of ‘exterior impetus’ to get the late onset Type 2 diabetes under some control. My feet still have ‘numb’ spots were the peripheral nerves are dead (although alcohol consumption across the years may be the root cause…), my eyes were getting really bad and my weight was remaining far too high. Forcing myself to manage the diabetes was my only option beyond just continuing as I was and probably going blind within a year if I didn’t die first. At some point I guess I hit my ‘rock bottom’ regarding my health issues and understood if I wanted to continue living I had to make sweeping changes and I had to do so immediately. I was lucky in that managing the diabetes really accelerated my weight loss which helped me continue to push my stepping. Without question, we humans should never stop pushing our envelopes! I’ve discovered that often my perceived barriers are really just those I constructed and put in place all by myself. I’ve often thought I was my own worst enemy but the former realization just proved this perception. But I’ve also learned I can live with situations which, initially, seemed untenable. In this sense I somehow managed to keep an open mind regarding the restrictive food choices when eating low carb and the often daunting perception that my daily exercise can never, ever stop if I wish to maintain my weight and continue to moderate my hypertension. Some mornings the thought of another 12k+ steps is just exhausting but I’ve also learned to just put such thoughts aside, dive into my morning routine and somehow I manage to put down those initial 3.5k+ steps within 45 minutes. By this point I know I’m better that one quarter of the way to my daily goal and that really provides energy and impetus to keep going. Speaking of which, time for more steps..!

  5. I have read this and saved it in my emails. What an amazing journey. I am so very proud of you!!!!!!!! As Pete said, not all of us can accomplish these sorts of changes. However, we will cheer each other on and help each other and be darn proud when one of our own scales the peak! Bless you for your inspiration and strength.

    • Hey Kris – Thanks for the kind words and encouragement! I never expected to be where I’m currently at regarding the late onset Type 2 diabetes; I had become sanguine with the concept of always having to test my blood glucose at least three to four times a week and get A1c test every three months. While it may appear I have huge reserves of self control, trust me, this is not the case. AS you know I truly feared becoming insulin dependent and was willing to do almost anything to avoid this situation. Nothing like good ole fear to provide some serious motivation! I have demonstrated some real self-discipline regarding my daily stepping; in this I’ve been blessed with having found a form of exercise I can do on a daily basis which doesn’t beat my joints to pieces but does help me lose weight and stay in some shape. Yes, let us celebrate each other’s successes and commiserate when failures do occur!! Having ‘soul mates’ in our health battles is a valuable asset and one I intend to exploit to the max!

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