Channeling Wilford Brimley

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sometimes, life ain't fair.

A year and a half ago, I embarked on a serious mission to get in peak physical shape, adopt healthier eating habits, and lose weight.  I was nearly 220 pounds, almost 40 pounds heavier than I needed to be or should be.  Drinking beer added calories, but I had no balance in the food I chose to eat.  Working out 3 times a week yielded slow, incremental weight gain and no marked improvement in muscle mass and athletic performance.  I was lazy, and slowly becoming someone I was not proud of.

I did it.  I eat healthy now, and enjoy an occasional sin, but it's OK, because "sin" was no longer the bulk of my dining experience.  I did the Insanity workout, then dove right into Crossfit training, and was nearing the shape I was in coming out of Infantry School in the Marines.  I was down 30 pounds.  I remembered what it was like to earn something again, and that makes your mind as tough as your body.

My reward for all this hard work and discipline:  2 weeks ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes.

What.  The.  Fuck.

A normal person, when they wake up in the morning, has a glucose level of around 100, and after a meal, about 120.  2 hours after a meal on the day I was diagnosed, I was 514.  My low point was 489.

I went in to the doctor because the night of the Super Bowl, I went to bed fine, and woke up the next morning no longer able to see very far.  My head felt cloudy and I was a tad confused.  Thinking was like thinking through mud.  I chalked it up to getting sick.

But day by day, symptoms racked-up.  Cotton-mouth.  Couldn't drink enough water.  No matter how much I chugged, I needed more and more.  I'd wake up on the hour, every hour, at night to piss a quart at a time (no wonder I was so dehydrated) - my body was pissing-out the sugar it couldn't process.

Finally, I bit the bullet and did the one thing you should never ever under any circumstances do:  I checked out Web MD, because all the symptoms sounded real familiar.  The next morning, I called to doc to get in that very afternoon.

When I got in, I told the doc that I'd bet him $10 I was diabetic.  I told him my symptoms, and said "just go get the glucometer."  514.  Arterial blood draws confirmed it.  My pancreas is broke.

Since then, I take a daily shot of insulin, and check my glucose 4 times a day.

My diet is already healthy, and a diabetic diet looks a lot like the Paleo diet, or simply a diet of someone who eats healthy and loses diet already!  Low in sugar, low in carbs, if you must eat carbs, make 'em whole grain. No big deal there.

I had to take a break from exercise so we could get the sugars to a control level, and then I could get back to the gym, as hard exercise drops your blood sugar.  I'm easing back into exercise; some light cardio last week, now amping-up the cardio and adding some resistance.  Eventually, as I figure out my sugar levels, I can hit Crossfit and Insanity and all that other crap again, because I'll have a better understanding of exercise, my dosage of insulin, and what I need to eat before and after a workout so I don't "go hypo (hypoglycemic)" and pass out!

My glucose is dropping to normal ranges.  No permanent damage was done, as we caught it early on.  Had I not been in such good shape, and thus attuned to how my body was feeling, it coulda been worse.  Only slight eye damage, and not retinal bleeding; my lenses got warped by how much sugar was in my blood and how fast I got rid of it, so from now on, I'll be a tad far-sighted.

I feel good again.  I'm glad we caught this.  I'm pissed and life isn't fucking fair that I worked so hard to not be in this position, but here I am anyway.  The rest of my life is needles and poking and disciplined dieting and watching my blood and nerding around with what certain foods and activities do to my glucose (it gives me something to tinker with!) and sometimes feeling fuzzy and sometimes feeling weak and shaky if I miss a meal and so on.  Needles and shots...forever.

But at least I can still drink beer.


steves 1:25 PM  

Not that this will be a huge comfort, but you are in a better position to deal with this than most people that develop diabetes. They typically have crappy eating habits and shitty will power. Like you said, you have good eating habits and great will power.

Still sucks, though.

Smitty 2:05 PM  

It does suck, but really:
1) It's not a death sentence
2) Almost nobody goes blind from diabetes any more; one has to ignore their glucose levels, stop eating right, never take insulin, etc.
3) I can control this and reduce the insulin I take eventually

It's the irony of it that kills me. All this diet and exercise to *not* get diabetes or heart disease, yet here I sit with diabetes!

Streak 7:09 AM  

Smitty, just read this as I was on the road the past few days. Sorry to hear about your diabetes--that really does suck. I am so glad that A) you caught it in time and B) that it is so treatable.

Just to be clear, though, did your exercise regimen trigger the diabetes?

Smitty 11:12 AM  

Doesn't look like it, Streak. Looks like "one of those things." Sometimes a 40 year old marathon running vegetarian dies of a heart attack. Sometimes a healthy crossfitter gets diabetes. Random randomness. Life's a bitch.

But I so *got* this. Got my glucose way under control now. Got my diet cooking. Back in the gym again. Things are looking up!

Monk-in-Training 6:55 AM  

I am terribly sorry to hear about this, but glad you caught it early enough to get right on treatment.

May God protect and keep you.

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