Care

The Numbers Are In

I’m home from my doctor appointment now, after a restless night of anxiously awaiting my blood work. Though I tried not to, the worry of how much my A1C had increased kept me from the restful sleep I had hoped for. 

All in all, the visit went quite well: my blood pressure, SAT, heart rate, temperature, etcetera, were all good, weight was up a few pounds, the only thing that I wasn’t surprised by that the nurse takes care of before seeing my PCP. I figured with my lack of sleep and A1C-anxiety my BP would be elevated for sure but it wasn’t. I went ahead and got my flu shot this morning, too; I’m glad to have that taken care of sooner rather than later. Finally the new nurse, a rather cheerful and concerned lady that I think I’ll like, took my blood sample for the A1C test; now to wait for the results ….

After a few minutes my PCP came in with what seemed to be a rather serious look on her face. She began with the normal “how’s life treating you” and “how are you feeling” type of questions, before turning to the real issue, or at least the one I wanted to know about: the number!

“So, on your last visit your A1C was 5.1”, she began, sounding pretty serious, “and today it is-” (I began to rehearse my excuses in my head at this point for why it had jumped so much.) “5.0!”, she finished with a huge smile. She has a great sense of humor, which I love, and enjoys teasing in this dramatic fashion I think. 

To say I was stunned would be an understatement! I went ahead and confessed my worries and stumbles to which she said I’d wasted a lot of energy on nothing. She then recapped the progress I’ve made over the last 13 months and told me how proud and happy she was of and for me, concluding with “God helps those who helps themselves and you’ve put a lot of effort into getting here. So stop beating yourself up over a few “bad” choices that could’ve been really bad ones!”

She was right. By consciously choosing better things to binge on I had improved my A1C, even if I had picked up a few of those formerly-lost pounds. And I see that in my “regular” diet I can loosen my stranglehold some and still maintain healthy, normal BG levels. I can’t tell you how relieved I was at this news!

As an added bonus, she is also giving me a prescription for a new-to-me topical gel to help my arthritic joints, which I have many of. She thinks I’ll greatly benefit from this “only one of its kind” gel, the name of which escapes me. It’ll be a week or so before I get it but I’ll try to update what it is and how it works for me when I’ve had a chance to try it out. And with winter closing in on us this new “help” comes at a great time.

The Bible teaches us that we aren’t to worry over things but to turn them over to The Lord. No matter how strong our faith, or at least this applies to me, I reckon it’s our nature to worry no matter how hard we try not to. This is another lesson that I need to do what I know I need to do and let God take care of the rest.

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Blood Work Blues

At just over 13-months now since I was diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes, tomorrow I’ll be going in for my now-regular A1C test, and other blood work; the A1C results I’ll get tomorrow but will have to wait a few days for the others to come back. I must admit that I’m somewhat anxious to get my numbers; I know that my A1C will be higher this time than last, I just don’t know how much higher it’s going to be. 

I thought that summer would be easier to control my blood glucose (BG) than the winter had been. After all, the warmer weather would, I reasoned, provide more opportunities for me to exercise since I generally feel better in the warmer weather than the cold. But as it turns out summer is hard, really hard, in other ways. Between the extra busyness of the season, trips/vacations, and the seemingly endless barrage of stress I’ve endured, my diet, and surely my BG, have suffered quite a bit. 

The busy schedule I’ve kept and traveling conspired to make it much more work to attempt to eat what I should, when I should. It really surprises me, looking back, at how much more difficult that was than making good choices during the holidays. Despite being more active during the summer, the unstable atmosphere of the season were much more challenging than holiday dinners and get-togethers last winter. 

Being stressed has always brought out the worst in my dietary habits: all good habits go right out the window to be frank. Sometimes, with some things, you have a degree of control over the stressors; I haven’t had much-to-any control over these in the last several months. I have, at least, recognized this and have tried to make choices that weren’t as bad for me. Learning, for instance, that fat helps to slow the conversion of carbohydrates to glucose has been a help; why are all the really good comfort foods so carb-rich anyway? I’ve also been trying to find extra ways to get more protein into my anxious-eating times. How well did I do at this? I reckon we’ll see tomorrow. 

Hopefully I’ve also learned from trial and error, including the above mentioned items, ways to loosen my dietary-stranglehold-grip at least some so I can lean toward a little less rigorous “plan” that I can live with day-in, day-out, no matter the situation I’m in or going through. After all, this disease isn’t going anywhere and, despite my trip-ups, I don’t have any plans to let it cause any more damage to my body or further decrease my quality of life than it already has: I will be the master not the slave to diabetes. 

Where Are YOU on Your Own Priority List? #BeWoW

Do you ever think about yourself and your own needs during the course of your day? I know, well, strongly feel at least, that we live in a very self-centered, narcissistic society that predominantly thinks of ones own wants far too much. But I’m not talking about that or to them. There are many loving, giving, sacrificing folks out there and that’s who I’m speaking to today. 

If you have made it this far and are still with me, I’m very likely talking to you’ So, let me ask again: Where are you on your own list of priorities? If you’re honest I’m betting not very high, probably not even in the top-ten. 

At my annual eye exam last week I was reminded that I need to make myself a priority in my own life if I want to be around to both enjoy and be enjoyed by my family and friends. Your health and well being (and mine) is in your own (and my own) hands; we are each responsible for “us” (oftentimes along with many other folks and things in our lives but that’s actually part of the problem I’m speaking of). 

Do you want to enjoy the precious time you are gifted in this life as you move ahead? I do. Do you want to be a burden to those around you in the future? Having been a burden in the past, I know I certainly don’t want that again. If you can make choices today to prevent or decrease the chances of that happening aren’t you ready and willing to do so? I am. 

I know: you’re busy and have a ton on your plate; me, too. But I promise you that excuse won’t cut-the-mustard down the line when you’re unable to enjoy a decent quality of life, spend pleasurable time with your children/grandchildren or whomever it is that is near and dear to you. 

Starting right now move yourself up on your list of “need to do” list – or whatever you call your it – and don’t feel guilty about doing it; you’re doing it for the ones you love, I not just for yourself. What better way to express your love to those you care most about than by being there for them “then” as well as “now”?

The Night Terrors 

I suffer from peripheral neuropathy (PN), a condition similar to but different than that from diabetic neuropathy. Although a lot isn’t known about PN, there are some general symptoms that are often shared by those afflicted by it, including but not limited to: it generally starts and worsens at night (nocturnal progression), it can be caused by a wide variety of things, some of which are “unknown”, it is generally managed with medications to some degree (better in some patients and not so well with others), can strike without warning even when one is doing as they should to manage the disorder, and varies widely in its intensity and the location effected. 

Unlike many afflicted with PN, I don’t have too much trouble with the common symptoms of feeling numbness and “pins and needles”, similar to when ones hand/foot “falls asleep” but to a greater degree of discomfort and longer duration. My symptoms are mostly managed by proper diet and being well hydrated along with my medication. However, I sometimes experience a phenomena called “break through pain” where the pain overwhelms the medicine and my body and puts me in a miserable condition. 

My flesh, which is normally, for me, desensitized (I feel no sence of touch and almost no pain/feeling at all in the affected areas) becomes hypersensitive, to the point that even a sheet or blanket can’t touch it. The pains are best described as someone taking an ice pick, dipping it in acid, and then stabbing me over and over, in different spots and in untimed succession (they may be seconds – or less – apart or minutes of reprieve may be experienced. These “stabs” then cause muscles, which normally don’t work at all, to spasm, a different and unpleasant feeling altogether. 

I mention this today because I am coming off of a night of pain-filled sleeplessness due to a visit from, as I have not so endearingly dubbed then, “the night terrors”.  

At one point in my life I would go days, weeks even, with little to no rest due to these relentless demons attacking me frequently and regularly. One day I mentioned the misery I was experiencing to my neurosurgeon and he explained this side effect from the nerve damage that Cauda Equina Syndrome had caused. (If you are interested in more on CES, see my other pages or see these links:

Within weeks of starting on a new medication I felt relief for the first time in years. And, other than the now rare “break through” incidents I have, I feel and rest much better much more of the time. 

While the medicines do have their potential side effects, which God has mercifully spared me front, in my case at least the risk outweighed the benefits by a large margin.

If you are unlucky enough to suffer from PN I would highly encourage you to talk to your doctor, PCP, medical team, etcetera about your symptoms. While no cure is available at his time, relief is readily available. And I think you will be very pleasantly surprised by just how much relief you can obtain in a relatively short time frame. 

Great ways to boost your metabolism

When I first started to eat low carb I didn’t understand that calories and fat content weren’t my enemies any longer (to a degree: moderation and all that) so I was very surprised when I saw some of these things. And it took me a while to embrace these new concepts. But it is really helping to keep my BG under control.

My Carb Breakup

Happy Monday!

I came across this great info on how to boost your metabolism and thought it was worth sharing. Some of these things surprised me, especially the being sure to eat enough. For people like me on Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diets, it definitely is not about restricting your food intake, it is about eating enough of the right things for your system.

Did any of these items surprise you?

The Secret to a Super Fast Metabolism | Skinny Mom | Where Moms Get The Skinny On Healthy Living

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Changing Gears a Little 

I know I’ve been sharing a lot of my writing lately, which I hope you are enjoying. It also seems I’ve been like a “broken record” playing “Whoa is me!” in almost every other post I’ve made: with my fall, stomach “bug”, self-inflicted back irritation, and yet another cold/virus setting in on me.  But it occurred to me that I had forgotten to post an update from my last doctor visit/on my health, which I said I would do. So, let’s change gears a bit for a post or two and get away from haiku and poems and injury and illness and such and on to the update, shall we? Okay, then, here we go!

To begin with, in my last post, written while in the waiting room at my primary care provider’s office, I wrote a haiku about her/their new policy; I know, I said no more poem-stuff in this post but this is pertinent. Well, I was a bit hasty in my skepticism (read the post linked in the first sentence of this paragraph if you want to know more): my wait time was less than five minutes from my appointment time. It seemed longer because I arrived early due to the new no-late-arrivals policy, but it really wasn’t. Now that I have made amends (with myself if no one else) on that jumped to conclusion- on to the results!

As I expected I had gained a few pounds back; I don’t recall the number but it was within a pound or two of what I figured: that was okay news. The good part was about to be revealed; my nurse wouldn’t tell me anything, purposefully playfully toying with me , except that she was printing something out for the PCP to show me. Well, this was not what I was expecting; I figured that, along with my weight, my other numbers had gone up. The wait to find out what this good news could be was almost unbearable – for the entire five minutes I had to wait!

When my PCP came in the exam room she was all smiles, holding a set of printouts in one hand and her tablet in the other. Brimming over with pride for me, she handed me the printout of my lab work and began to explain it; many of the numbers I knew and understood but some I wasn’t too familiar with. All of my numbers had improved again, even my A1C had dropped a bit more, bringing it down to 5.1! And while a few results are still not quite where they need to be, all showed significant improvement and should, she said, continue to normalize as my body keeps adjusting to its new regiment. 

Part of the reason I had been concerned with my labs not being as good as they had been, let alone dropping and improving further, is that I’ve released some of the tension of the “stranglehold” I’d put on my diet. When I first learned of my disease I knew I had to make dramatic changes to gt it under control. But these changes were so dramatic I was having a hard time staying within my self-set parameters all the time. I finally realized this is not a diet I’m on but a total lifestyle change and in order to stay with that change I would need to adjust my parameters to ones that I could live with day in, day out, for the rest of my life. And apparently the modifications were not too liberal as I had feared. 

If it’s The Lord’s will, I have a lot longer on this “road of life” I’m on. And I know full well that there will be plenty more potholes and detours to avoid or take. But with His grace and leading I’m confident we, He and I, can navigate through it, though the bumps and lumps will inevitably still be there along the way.  

Checkup Time

So, today is checkup day; I had my blood drawn Monday morning and will get my three month test results today. I’m anxious, a bit, since it’s been a long, tough winter for me; I know my weight hasn’t dropped and hope my A1C hasn’t risen much with the poor choices I’ve made the last few months. We shall see very soon I reckon. 

In the meantime, while waiting to see the nurse and my primary care giver, I wrote a little haiku. There’s a “new” policy here: if you’re more than 10 minutes late you won’t be seen. I expressed my thoughts on this last time I was here and I understand the policy now, from their point of view. But it should flow both ways, this policy, in my not-so-humble opinion: if I wait longer than 10 minutes my visit should be free – I’m not holding my breath in that though. 

  

(Photo credit)

Be on time or else
The doctor’s new policy
Doesn’t self-apply

Healthy Heart Month

With all that’s going on in February, and I’ll spare you the list, I had no idea that it is also Healthy Heart Month until I got an email from the American Diabetes Association with this news. After reading it, I thought I would share a few simple things that I’ve done to make my heart a bit (or hopefully more) healthy.

Obviously I’m not you and I don’t know your health problems or other conditions; you and your doctor know these things. Make sure you talk to your doctor about what will work for you and your body, medication(s) you currently take, etcetera, before making any changes you are unsure of.

The short list, now, of a few things that I am doing:
– eat more fresh fruits and vegetables: This is a no-brainer.
– take a fish oil supplement: I know I don’t eat enough fish to get the extra omega-3 fatty acids to help make my heart healthier.
– get more potassium in your diet: Most people don’t get the USRDA of potassium in their diets. Adding a banana a day will really raise the amount you are getting. And bananas are okay for most diabetics to eat, as long as they aren’t eating them with a lot of other carbs.
– get more magnesium in your diet: I don’t think there is a USRDA on this mineral but I do know it’s an important one! For more on the benefits of magnesium, as well as the possible negatives, read this article
– eat more whole grains: No matter who you are or what ails you, opting for whole grains over processed “stuff” is good for you and your heart!
– know your numbers: Have a blood panel done so you will know what your HDL, LDL, triglycerides, and A1C are; it’s hard to work on correcting what you aren’t aware of needing correcting.

And lastly: Do your research. Your doctor can and should advise you on when your health is and what you can do to improve it. But ultimately almost all of our ailments, including but not limited to diabetes, are mostly self-managed. With the technology and resources we have at our fingertips, available at our whim and will, there really is no excuse to read up on medication, treatments, supplements, and lifestyle changes that may benefit us. After all, we are our own best advocates.

Swerving Without Braking

Given the title of my blog, I kind of thought it was time to make a post that played off of it a little at least. In my neck of the woods, literally speaking, we have a lot of potholes that begin developing this time of year. Trying to avoid them can seem, indeed be, impossible to accomplish. One of the worst things you can do when avoiding (or trying to) an object while driving is to swerve, especially a hard, fast maneuver, without braking. That fast gut-reaction cut of the wheel on its own can lead to terrible consequences, including loosing total control of your vehicle, fishtailing, and even a crash that can cause serious injury to person and property. Controlled avoidance, deliberate steering with the proper braking action, is the correct way to miss the pothole (or deer, dog, person, vehicle, etcetera) in your path. The same theory applies to life and its challenges, in my experience at least.

Over the holiday season I allowed myself some dietary freedoms that I thought I could handle and would save me from feeling “deprived” and lesson my enjoyment of these times. For the most part I was successful with this theory and strategy: for the most part. Unfortunately as the holiday season departed the bite of winter really began to take hold in my region. And my ailments don’t get along with winter weather very well. I also seek comfort in foods that are, well, comfort foods! But those foods aren’t really comfort foods for me: they are kill-me-slowly foods.

The success I’d had in my small indulgences led me to the false impression that I could take in more of these “treats” on a regular basis without negative backlash from my body. Soon I was seeing a spike in my blood glucose (BG) levels, some small, others too large for my target. And I also began to realize that I wasn’t feeling as well as I had been, of course I initially laid that blame on the weather solely, which wasn’t true. Then the scales began to reveal more bad news: the number was not steady, let alone going down, but climbing! I was swerving to avoid an obstacle in my path without methodically applying the brakes to control my trajectory, like the car and the potholes I began this post with.

About a week ago is when this reality clicked – and I’ve been applying the brake and controlling my path much better since then. The good news is the scales and the BG meter confirm that my path is getting back on course. The bad news is that my body still doesn’t tolerate winter weather changes well, and likely never will again: my ailments are not likely to get better and my body is going to continue to breakdown with the aging process. But I can do something about how I react to the situation: I can apply reason, caution, and experience to my decisions. While having those tools are an advantage there is no guarantee that I will always use them when I need to. Hopefully I will grow as a “driver” on this “road” as I have over the years operating a motor vehicle: with experience and time an almost muscle-memory style of driving has been “born” making my actions and reactions more consistent and with much less thought needing to go into them. On both the road of life and the roads of asphalt we all need to be solid, defensive drivers.

Christmas Pajamas

We have a little tradition of sorts around our house of giving pajamas as gifts to open on Christmas Eve. As long as I can remember my wife and I have given our kids a pair of PJs to wear on Christmas morning as a gift to open on Christmas Eve ; this practice has tapered off the past few years with our children growing up and moving out on their own.

Last year my wife surprised me with a pair of new pajamas on Christmas morning, something we hadn’t done as part our tradition in the past. I was amused and touched by the gift; I reckoned that I’m her baby now! But I knew that the pajama pants would be too small with one look at them. I put them away, later, after all the gifts were opened and forgot about them – until today.

Old Man Winter is toying with us, playing with the barometric pressure and temperature, today. As many of you know, the change in the pressure really aggravates my arthritis so today has been a not-so-good day; I did almost nothing (again) today with my achy joints. I did manage to fold and put away a little laundry this afternoon though and that’s when I saw those pants tucked away in my wardrobe. Nearly a year later and several pounds lighter, I decided to try them on and to my delight they fit me just perfectly!

Diabetes took almost 40 unexplained pounds off my body since last winter; my lifestyle changes have added another near 30 pounds to that tally in the last few months. I’ve noticed that my other clothes were getting too big, or fitting better, in the last month or so but I don’t think I had realized yet how much the difference really was until today. And this revelation came at a very good time for me, having felt so bad the last two weeks or so.

Another “little victory” in the war to master the disease, rather than be it’s slave. And as always, it was given to me in just the right time; God is good, all the time.