Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'm Too Sweet....Literally!

It's been one year since that day I found out I have diabetes. And you know what? I'm better in every way one year later. I'll explain, taking advantage of the dearth of Sox news.
There are two types of diabetes in humans. There is Type 2 diabetes, which affects 90-95% of all those with the disease. And then there is the rarer form, type 1, also known as juvenile diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, a person's body makes insulin, which is produced in the pancreas and controls the sugar level in one's body. But that person's body does not use the insulin produced in a correct manner to regulate sugar. This a a VITAL function, for all your body organs are fed by the sugar in one's blood. Type 2 usually develops slowly over time, mostly because the person has not taken care of himself, gaining weight, not excercising, becoming too sedentary. That exact behavior has much to do with the fact that they developed diabetes in the first place. It can be controlled by oral medication, a change in eating habits, and excercise. Now on to type 1.
Type 1 can be defined as a person whose body does not make ANY insulin. Usually becoming evident in youth, it is a devasting desease that can only be controlled by checking one's blood sugar level 4 to 6 times a day. This is done by sticking one's finger to get a drop of blood, which a small machine then uses to tabulate one's sugar blood level. Between 70 to 110 is a normal blood sugar level.
There is no up side to type 1 diabetes. You must not let your blood sugar get too high, for if the sugar stays in your bloodstream instead of spreadng throughout your body, it does not properly feed your organs with the sugar they need to remain healthy. If your blood sugar is too low, one way or another, you're going to pass out, hopefully not while you are driving. The brain is an organ. Remember it needs sugar to function. Excercise and proper diet will minimize your need for insulin, but never eliminate it. I know I am responsible for one of the functions my body used to take care of by itself. If one has a scoop of ice cream, the normal body produces insulin to keep the blood sugar in the normal range. I have to inject the insulin my body fails to make. The only good thing about this is the fact that I didn't develop type 1 diabetes as a child, for the longer you have it, the more time the disease has to manifest its killer complications.
So what did I do? One, I learned to be comfortable taking my sugar level, usually 5 times per day. I learned to take the correct amount of insulin, depending on what my sugar level was before the ingestion of food, what type of food I'm having, and how much I will excersise after eating. It's all second nature to me now, with my 6 month sugar level average being 85. That's the level a non-diabetic would have. I'm damn proud of myself for that level.
I excercise twice a day, 20 minutes each time, immediately after lunch and dinner. This allows me to take less insulin before
eating, as when you excercise, you burn sugar. I've also given up red meat for all but one day per week. That paired with the daily excercise has resulted in my usually great cholesterol level to lower itself to unbelievable levels, with the total of the bad LDL and the good HDL at 135. My weight has, at 5 feet 11 inches, gone from 196 to 172, and some of my favorite old clothes, tee shirts and rare jeans, fit me like a glove. I'm actually back at college weight, which has sparked my social life by a ton. And I feel so good just because my sugar levels, once high without me knowing it for a short time, are in the low normal range.
So don't become a couch potato. it opens your body up to too many bad things. Excercise at least 5 times a week. A simple 30 minute brisk walk will do the trick. Your heart will thank you. And so would I. After all, we all want to be here when the Red Sox win their next world championship. Fenway Park isn't the greatest place in the world for me, or anyone, to take one's blood sugar, but that's exactly what I do, right in my seat unless I'm sitting next to a kid. Kid and blood drops, however small, are not a good mix. And more than one Fenway Frank isn't a good thing either, because it's not just avoiding sugar in one's diet. Remember, flour, that important ingredient of bread, cookies and soooo many other things, turns to sugar when you digest it. That's another something I watch out for. My Dunkin' Doughnuts days are over, except for the cardboardish Low Carb bagels that don't affect my blood sugar. And the Edy's Lo Carb ice cream has been a godsend. I can have something sweet and enjoy it so much. Remember, carbohydrates are nothing more than a measure of sugar, the higher the number, the more sugar introduced into your system. Put it this way, I love AND consume of hell of a lot of grilled chicken. Healthy low fat protein, almost the perfect part of a great lo-carb but good tasting meal. If I want beer, in moderation, and I had to give alcohol up for two years, it's Miller Light, the beer with the lowest carbs per serving than any of the others.
So what's the point of all this. I just wanted to share it with you, and help you understand a little better what diabetes is and what it can do to you, if you let it. I WON'T LET IT! Don't you either. The more time we have on this globe, the more time that gives us to find new memories and new people. My urge to share with someone else has never been higher. Unfortunately, the person I'd like to share with the most is MIA at the time, but there are so many great people to meet, and so many reaching out to meet me. It's a regular riot, Alice! Jeez, there's that pesky bus driver again. But he comes up with so many different ways to make money. I don't know if they will work or not, but it's hard to ignore a guy like that. He looks trustworthy too, although a little overweight. I think his name is Ralph. Oops, I can hear the bus coming...gotta run. Thanks for reading this too long post, and good health to you and yours.

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