As my generation ages, we watch friends and family face different health scares but never expect anything to happen to us. On July 6, 2017, I went to the doctor to figure out if an old rodeo injury was causing the wrist pain that I was experiencing. Well, come to find out, the wrist had a bone spur rubbing against a nerve and causing the pain I was experiencing. While there, we decided to catch up on some overdue blood work and the only issue expected would be elevated cholesterol numbers. Well, imagine my surprise, when the numbers came back, and my cholesterol was normal, but my blood glucose was through the roof. Type 2 diabetes had just reared its ugly head and became the elephant in the room for someone who loves good food in all its sultry and savory varieties. Fried foods, heavy desserts, and most things delicious were my guilty pleasures. All my favorite meals and beverages along with my identity had now come under fire because of a medical diagnosis.
My thoughts included, “What should I do? How will I overcome this? Will I ever be able to enjoy my favorite foods again?” After receiving information from the doctor and learning that I would have to prick my finger and use a blood glucose meter to measure my sugar levels daily for the foreseeable future, I left the doctor knowing my life had drastically changed and not for the better. At this point, the decision to be made was whether to eat what I wanted and let the chips fall where they may, or grab the elephant by the tusks and work diligently to take off the weight and reverse the effects of Type-2 diabetes. Starting on January first, I broke a twenty-five-year tobacco habit using all forms of candy and food as a substitute for the tobacco. My weight ballooned to 220 pounds, and I should have known I was setting myself up for the diagnosis I received that fateful Friday. Now, after giving up tobacco, it was up to me to decide whether I would do what it took to overcome this new obstacle.
On July 8, the first day of my new ‘normal’ there was a Charlotte Writers Group meeting at Taco Mac and they have a great panko breaded shrimp with french fries. That first morning, my fasting blood glucose number was 246 which was very high, and after breakfast, I took my first dose of metformin. Metformin helps lower blood glucose levels. Seeing a fasting blood glucose number that high made the decision easy to make a complete lifestyle change. At the Charlotte Writers Group meeting later that day, I ate the breaded shrimp but had steamed broccoli instead of french fries and recorded the calories in my new best friend, the LiveStrong MyPlate nutrition mobile application. The MyPlate application would become an annoyance to friends and family before each meal; the calories and carbohydrates required counting. With a self-styled diet, obsessive nutrition and blood glucose levels recordkeeping, and an incredible support system, thirty-pounds have disappeared, and glucose numbers have normalized over the past ten weeks. It has not been easy because I still love Longboard beer and meals at my favorite restaurant, Sammy’s of Belmont, but the big thing I have learned about myself is that I can do what it takes to get healthy without sacrificing my identity. What have I done you might ask to drop three pounds a week on average and not feel starved?
In the next installment of my wake-up call, I will discuss my self-styled diet and exercise plan that I use daily to ease the management of my new-onset Type-2 diabetes and allow myself some room to cheat occasionally. The purpose of these pieces is to assure you that if someone who loves food as much as I do can bring this dread disease under control, you can too.