One man's fight against Type 2 Diabetes.
Click for AUDIO version.
I recently announced on Facebook I had worked my way off of Diabetes medication, having been able to lower my blood sugar levels over a four month period. This resulted in a landslide of congratulatory messages from friends on achieving this goal, of which I give thanks. In doing so, it made me realize how sensitive people are becoming to Type 2 Diabetes and that maybe my story could benefit others.
Following a physical exam last Fall, I took a blood test which revealed elevated blood sugar levels (333 + 10.5). Frankly, I wasn't surprised as I knew I had developed an addiction to low-carb sports drinks, apple juice and orange juice. The carbs were low but I wasn't paying attention to the sugar content. My father also suffered with Diabetes, so when my doctor informed me of the problem, I paid attention. He said I could either address the problem myself or take a pill. At first, I decided to address it myself.
I immediately implemented a cease and desist on all of the drinks I had been consuming, along with alcohol. I was told to also eliminate bread, pasta, and sweets from my diet, which presented no problem to me, and I concentrated on protein. I do not normally enjoy a lot of sweets, but I discovered sugar-free Popsicles satisfied my occasional craving.
As to alcohol, I missed my end of the day beer or glass of wine, but I figured if I could conquer smoking, as I did two years ago, I could also set aside booze. Only once during the next few months did I surrender to a lite beer, but this made me feel physically bad and instinctively realized I couldn't pursue it any longer. By January, my numbers had dropped to 250 + 9, and by February it was 198 + 8. This didn't satisfy my doctor who recommended I try a pill to accelerate the reduction, specifically Metformin.
Also around this time, I joined a gym and began to exercise regularly (you may remember my column on "My Trip to the Gym"). In addition, I was taking a fat burning pill available from the drug store, Lipozene. Between the exercise, my new diet, lack of alcohol, and the diet pill, the pounds melted off rather quickly. So much so, I am now faced with having to buy new clothes.
During the two months while I was on Metformin, I began to experience some strange side-effects, such as muscle aches and pains, overly sensitive to cold, nausea, trouble breathing, uneven heart rate, and dizziness. The net result was I experienced difficulty in sleeping, causing me to stay awake as late as 3:00am or 4:00am. This made me feel like a zombie during the day and my family noticed a decline in attitude and well being.
In late March, I complained to my doctor about my situation and he ordered another blood test. Remarkably, my numbers were down to 149 + 7, within normal range. Noting my symptoms, he ordered me off the Metformin, which represented an Independence Day of sorts for me. I want to note here that Metformin may be a good drug for combating Type 2 Diabetes for some people, but it didn't sit well with me personally. Over the next few days, my symptoms abated and I began to catch up on my sleep.
In researching this article I was alarmed by the number of people affected by Type 2 Diabetes (aka, diabetes mellitus). According to the National Institute of Health, it "is now fast emerging as one of the biggest health catastrophes the world has ever witnessed. Almost 6% of the world's adult population now live with diabetes (Sicree et al, 2003; International Federation of Diabetes, 2006). It has been predicted that the total number of people with diabetes will rise to 366 million in less than 30 years if preventative action is not taken." The consciousness of the people is swiftly rising in regards to this, which probably explains why I had so many well wishers send me congratulations.
I wanted to celebrate my achieving "normalcy," but I realized I am now a man in his sixties who cannot live as he did back in his twenties or thirties. Consequently, I haven't given up on my exercise, diet, or fat burning pill, at least not until I am confident I am stable. As far as soft drinks go, I primarily enjoy Diet Mountain Dew as it has both zero calories and zero sugar (plus it reminds me of my youth when Pepsi-Cola rolled it out in the mid-1960's as a Hillbilly drink, e.g, "Yahoo, Mountain Dew; It'll tickle your innards!").
Although I won't go back to beer, wine, or certain other sugar based spirits, I allow myself an occasional glass of Scotch whiskey which uses no sugar. I figure since I can no longer smoke or have a beer (I never indulged in recreational drugs), I needed at least one vice to get me through life. Otherwise, it is time for a Viking funeral where I fire up the Kingsford.
One last note, I am indebted to my doctor and old friend, David Lindberg, for guiding me through this difficult period. He listened patiently to me, diagnosed my problems, and was smart enough to know when to back me off the Metformin.
As the Stones said, "What a drag it is getting old..."
Keep the Faith!
Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.
Tim Bryce is a freelance writer and management consultant in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.
For Tim’s columns, see: timbryce.com
Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.