Worldview: The Rambling Road: Documenting Progress

I had a medical appointment yesterday, which in itself is not remarkable, but that revealed a very good result.

I should back up a step and explain that, since about June of last year, I have altered my approach to managing my physical maladies, adopting a very low-carb diet(1) and following an intermittent fasting schedule(2) along with ramping up my physical activity. These changes flowed into the fact that I also started taking a pair of antidepressants in October that helped clear my head so I could focus better on what I am trying to do. Finally, in December I started taking Trulicity in addition to insulin and metformin

When I got out of the hospital a couple of years ago, my A1C was 8.5 and my blood glucose was running in the 450s mg/dL (yes, I am aware of how dangerously high that all is). At my last appointment, my A1C was 7.1 and my blood glucose average was around 180 mg/dL.

Fast forward to yesterday, and after about 9 months of focused effort, my A1C has dropped to 6.6 and my blood glucose average sits at around 161 mg/dL.

The moral of the story is that, if you are suffering from similar issues to mine, there are methods to overcome the obstacles those issues present. The right combination of medications, diet, and exercise can pay huge dividends in a short period of time and offer the promise of remission if not recovery.

DLH

(1) I try to keep my daily intake of all carbohydrates between 20 and 40 mg a day and do so by avoiding all sugars, modern grains (basically, anything containing wheat or rice), and manufactured foods. In general, I also try to keep the foods I consume in the low Glycemic Index range (below 55). Foods called Brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and the like) are great for this.

Understand this kind of diet can be a huge adjustment, and if you decide to try it, there may be a period of transition where you experience symptoms similar to coming down with the flu. Also, if you have other health issues, be careful not to make them worse by following this diet. Be sure to consult your health care provider as you move forward.

(2) There are as many opinions on intermittent fasting as there are people who try it, and I don’t have a specific recommendation of where to start, but in general, the idea is to limit your calorie consumption to a narrow window once or twice a day. For me, this means usually eating one big meal between 2 and 4 and another smaller meal about an hour before bed (this helps level out overnight blood sugar spikes). These meals can vary somewhat based on my daily schedule, but in general results in there being at least 12 hours and as many as 16 hours between caloric intakes.

This method of eating helps encourage your body to take advantage of its already extant biological pathways that are part of the “feast and famine” experienced by our ancestors. Doing so helps our bodies use calories more effectively and, once you get into the habit, often results in eating less.

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: 2018 goes out a lot better than it came in

With the year drawing to a close, I would be remiss if I did not revisit where I find myself now after the past couple–and really the past few–years of illness and struggle.

One of the most important health changes I have ever experienced happened in the form of starting a mild anti-depressant at the end of September. The changed I experienced upon beginning that medication is real and enduring and has enabled nearly everything else that has happened since then.

The biggest subsequent change has been to dedicate myself to a series of dietary and exercise changes in the hope of wrestling my life back from my health. I have virtually given up process sugars, modern grains, and processed foods. I have begun an intermittent fasting regimen. I have starting moving more than I have in years.

Specifically, I am walking and using a bike trainer, and plan to start running and attending a yoga class after the first of the year. If those efforts go well, I plan to start trail hiking and purchase an e-bike for longer-distance rides sometime in the next year.

I have begun using light therapy as part of a daily program that involves waking up using light instead of sound and also using a therapy panel as part of my daily routine. The effect this has had on my mood and energy level cannot be understated.

Perhaps most importantly, I am confident that I can do the things I plan for the first time in a really long time. I am hopeful for the new year, and those are strange words coming out of my mouth.

More will follow.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: 2018 goes out a lot better than it came in

With the year drawing to a close, I would be remiss if I did not revisit where I find myself now after the past couple–and really the past few–years of illness and struggle.

One of the most important health changes I have ever experienced happened in the form of starting a mild anti-depressant at the end of September. The changed I experienced upon beginning that medication is real and enduring and has enabled nearly everything else that has happened since then.

The biggest subsequent change has been to dedicate myself to a series of dietary and exercise changes in the hope of wrestling my life back from my health. I have virtually given up process sugars, modern grains, and processed foods. I have begun an intermittent fasting regimen. I have starting moving more than I have in years.

Specifically, I am walking and using a bike trainer, and plan to start running and attending a yoga class after the first of the year. If those efforts go well, I plan to start trail hiking and purchase an e-bike for longer-distance rides sometime in the next year.

I have begun using light therapy as part of a daily program that involves waking up using light instead of sound and also using a therapy panel as part of my daily routine. The effect this has had on my mood and energy level cannot be understated.

Perhaps most importantly, I am confident that I can do the things I plan for the first time in a really long time. I am hopeful for the new year, and those are strange words coming out of my mouth.

More will follow.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: An advent

It’s been a while since I’ve written here, mostly because I came to resent the fact it seemed like I only came to these pages to complain. Recently, however, something very positive has happened to me, and after debating when and how to share it, I decided to share it with everyone all at once.

About six weeks ago, I started taking an antidepressant after consulting with my healthcare provider about some things I had going on, including rampant insomnia and some ways of thinking that lead nowhere good. For those of you who know me well enough, you may realize how important and difficult a decision this was for me.

I wish I had pushed this issue decades ago.

In the past six weeks, for what seems like the first time in my life, my head is clear of so much of the noise that has plagued me most of my life. I have slept full nights for the first time in years. The change is beyond remarkable for me, and has contributed to a host of realizations about myself and my behavior that were, for me, clouded until now.

Granted, I am just at the beginning of a process, and we’ve already had to make adjustments to my medication to accommodate symptoms and side effects, but the fact is I can see where I need to be going and how to get there for the first time in a really long time.

I’m telling everyone this for two reasons. First, because, especially as a male, it can be hard to admit something is wrong and to ask for help. Second, because it’s important for all of us to remember that the brain is an organ just like the liver or the pancreas, and if you’re willing to take medication to help them work better, why not consider doing so for your brain too if you need it?

The bottom line is that I did ask for that help and got it, and for the first time in a really long time, I am optimistic about being able to improve. I can’t say for certain where this will head, but I know it will head somewhere. Stay tuned for more as time passes.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: A question of precision

Having medical conditions often means medication, and taking medications often means a level of precision whether we realize it or not. Each medication has its own, often unique, requirements for administration that are often, in some way, in conflict with any others.

Add into this the human propensity for mistakes, and you have a recipe for disaster. In my case, this morning, it was a matter of injecting the wrong dose of my long-acting insulin, to the tune of 22 more units than I should have taken.

In isolation, this is not that big of a deal. I will have to keep extra track of my blood sugar throughout the day to make sure it does not drop too far, and because I can’t afford not to stay on track with my regular doses, I will have to make sure I eat enough calories tonight to see me through until morning.

That said, while I happened to notice this mistake and can compensate for it, I wonder how many times I may have made similar mistakes–taking a once a day pill twice or other instances of taking not enough or too much insulin–since this process began.

The fact is these mistakes pile up. Over time, we can’t help but to make them, and they start to have an effect on our health just as surely as the diseases we are treating. It’s an important thing for patients and medical professionals to consider for anyone battling disease.

As for me, I will redouble my efforts to pay attention. That’s the best I can do.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: A pain in the…

One of the things I had never considered about having a chronic condition like diabetes is that it is painful, not as much in the sense that the condition itself is painful, but in the sense that the treatment is.

I’ve already learned the lesson of ignoring it–or perhaps enduring it–but at least three times a day, I have to prick or stab myself to check my blood sugar or administer insulin. The fact is these events hurt, not a lot, but still, and I find that pain has an accumulative effect on one’s outlook on life. Now I understand a little better why the people with chronic illness act the way they do.

And it’s not just a matter of physical pain either. There’s further the metaphorical pain of paying for medication, the mental pain of having to be disciplined with diet and exercise even when you don’t want to, and the emotional pain of having to deal with the fact I’m sick with something that is, to a great degree, my fault.

This isn’t a troll for sympathy or a depressive mea culpa. Instead, it’s an acknowledgement this sucks and a warning to everyone who is not this way to avoid it if at all possible. This is preventable pain, but it takes some work and dedication to make sure it doesn’t happen to you. Because, the fact is, this is a pain in all the wrong places, and I don’t recommend it.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: Keep your blood sugar in check. Seriously

One of the more disconcerting experiences I’ve had in this journey so far is moments when my blood sugar has been out of check due to various factors ranging from the unknown to my own stupid behavior.

Now that I am on medication and insulin to regulate things, I can tell almost immediately when things go out of whack. When things get too low, I get weak and shaky quick, and when things get too high, I get bone-crushingly tired to the point I have to lay down or I’m going to just sleep where I am.

Unfortunately, this is a new normal for me, but one that has specific and enduring ramifications for anyone trying to be healthy. My own body’s reaction may be extreme, but you may recognize the symptoms in how your own body reacts to food and activity. Those reactions aren’t normal and I implore you to consider them carefully to avoid having to go what I have gone through.

I will be the first to acknowledge that better eating–the real key to blood sugar management and to avoiding a whole host of chronic illnesses–is time consuming, expensive, and sometimes downright boring. It is also one of the best choices you will ever make.

If I may be so bold, consider the following as a minimum: stop drinking sugared beverages of any kind and stop eating refined sugars. That change alone will pay dividends you can’t imagine. If you want to go beyond that, read food labels compulsively (there are plenty of websites out there that will help you learn to understand what’s making you sick) and eat vegetables like it’s your religion. If you want to go all the way, only eat food that you know who grew it. I promise. It will make a difference.

It will be worth it if you do. You don’t have to learn the hard lesson I have.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: Checkpoint

Today turned out to be a pretty good day, despite the fact I’m tired and a little sore now.

The day started with my second quality walk in as many days. It was a lot colder this morning than yesterday, so my pace was much faster, resulting in a higher heart rate. Other than some muscle fatigue toward the end, I tolerated it well, and that gives me hope I’ve turned a corner.

This afternoon, I had my second follow-on appointment since I was in the hospital. We went over the results of my blood draw from Friday, and most of my numbers look really good for someone who was so recently sick. There are a couple of things we’re going to keep an eye on, but I don’t have to go back for a month, so that’s a good sign.

Finally, Keba and I wandered around our local Kroger while they filled a new prescription I’m starting to replace an old one. It ended up being a second walk for the day, leaving me tired and sore but contented.

As impatient and restless as I have been about recovering, I’m surprised and pleased with the sudden progress I seem to be making over the past few days. Now, the task is for me to restrain my enthusiasm so as not to overdo it.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: The Rambling Road: Experiments

Last week, I learned the hard lesson of not eating too much at one time, something I hope I don’t soon forget. But, the experience got me to thinking about the side effects, especially as they relate to my blood sugar that I am monitoring twice a day.

When I went into the hospital, my numbers were dangerously high (along with apparently everything else being dangerously out of whack…), but a regular course of insulin injections brought them down to more manageable levels. Since I’ve been home, my numbers have still been high, but far better than they were.

What I wanted to find out is whether I could affect those numbers even more by changing my approach to what, how, and when I am eating, how much water I am drinking, when I am taking related medications, and how much physical activity I am getting.

Granted, those are a lot of variables to monkey with at once, but they all have a common component of metabolism, and metabolism is a key factor in my greatest risk factor, that being the fact that I am still well overweight.

As things stand now, I am waiting to eat until I am discernibly hungry, which means that I don’t have a regular meal time schedule as it is difficult to predict when I might be hungry. Further, I am consuming massive amounts of water, right now at least a gallon to a gallon and a half a day. I also increased the time between doses of my medication to spread it more evenly through the day. Finally, I am using a regime of “natural movement” exercises to increase my physical activity as I build up the stamina to do more.

I have been following this plan for about three days now, and the result is that my blood sugar number was in the “normal” ranger for the first time in quite a while yesterday afternoon and again tonight. Granted, this plan is not without cost, as I suspect some part of my fatigue is related to the change in quantity and timing of calorie intake, but my hope is that I can retrain by body to get used to the change and also lose weight in the process.

Presuming my numbers stay where they are supposed to be, I will continue this process for as long as it works or until I come up with something better.

DLH

Read more at my The Rambling Road weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...