The Diagnonsense

I was 7-years old when I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was in the room when the doctor and his entourage came in and told my parents. I had no idea what diabetes was, or what it meant. My mom cried, my dad nodded, and all of a sudden my life was completely different.

My mom kneeled down in front of me and tried to explain to me that an organ inside my body, called a pancreas, wasn’t working anymore, and that I would have to start giving myself needles. I was so mad. I remember thinking, ‘but this is my body! I can make it work again if I have to!”

I spent a couple of weeks in the hospital, learning how to live with diabetes. I remember the day they brought in a cabbage patch doll that they used to help kids learn how to inject insulin. It was heavy. I remember wondering if insulin did that to the doll, what would it do to my body?

The nights in the hospital were lonely, the days filled with nasty hospital food, friendly staff, and lots of learning. When I was finally discharged from the hospital I was told that I would have to monitor my blood glucose for the rest of my life. I had to test my urine every time I went to the bathroom. I was angry and I felt betrayed by own body. It was scary and lonely.

My mom bought a scale to weigh my food and I had to portion out all my meals. My parents were very supportive, and asked that everyone in the family (at the time I lived with both my grandparents, my uncle, and my brother and sister) to do a blood test. I appreciated the effort, but part of me thought, “yeah, but they don’t have to do it at every meal.”

I don’t know how long I tested my urine for, it could have only been a week, but to me, it felt like months. Anyway, I remember being so angry and humiliated that I couldn’t even take a pee without this stupid disease interfering. I remember thinking, at 7-years old, that I would rather die than suffer the humiliation of having to take another pee test.

I barely finished grade 2, and when I started grade 3, the teacher asked us to write about our summer in cursive writing. I remember staring at the page, not having a clue what to do while all the other kids began writing about their summer’s. I cried.

That was a hard year for me because I had to get used to living with diabetes, and I had to relearn most of 2nd grade while simultaneously learning grade 3. My math skills were never recovered.

The first time I had low blood sugars at school, I didn’t remember what it was called. I tried to tell my teacher that I didn’t feel well. “I’m having one of those things…” She looked me over, pronounced me fine, and sent me outside for afternoon recess. I was scared because I had been warned about this at the hospital, and that if I ever felt this way I needed sugar to get my blood glucose up as soon as possible. My best friend ended up scouring the school yard, asking every single kid for anything that I could use to get my blood sugars up. I told my mom about it when I got home and she called the school. The next day the teacher pulled me aside and told me that I had to let her know next time I ever felt like that. “But I tried!”

It was a hard year, and I cried and felt sorry for myself, a lot. I was angry and resentful. I’d missed too much school the year before, and I has having a hell of a time learning grade 2 and 3 together.  I don’t remember a lot of this part, but my dad assures me I was becoming depressed. Both my parents felt so bad for me that they discussed sending me to camp Banting. (Fredrick Banting discovered insulin, and there’s a summer camp for diabetic children to go to where the food is portioned out and everyone who attends has diabetes.) We weren’t poor, but my parents didn’t have a lot of money for me to attend a camp like this. My grandparents pitched in and they sent me to camp. At first I was homesick and all I wanted was to come home. Then, I started to make friends and there were a lot of fun activities. We practiced archery, went swimming, went on nature walks, and did crafts. They sold “diabetic friendly” Crispy Crunch bars at the general store. (READ: aspartame laden.)

It was nice to know there were other kids out there who had the same disease as I did. They lived with it, they knew what it was like. We got to talk about it. It made me feel better about what I was living with. It also made me realize that there was nothing I could do about having this disease, and I had to change my perspective about how I dealt with it.

A couple of years later, I became a rebellious teenager and while my mom was busy weighing and measuring my food, I was at school trading my carefully assembled lunches and doing everything I could to get my hands on whatever junk food I could. If I couldn’t eat it at home, I sure as hell would try and eat it at school. By the time I hit high school, my favourite treat was a diet coke and chocolate bar.

A couple of years later, even though I was pretty active (I was still eating a SAD diet) I started gaining a lot of weight, really fast. I was tired all the time and waking up for school was increasingly difficult. I went to see my doctor, who diagnosed me Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  I was put on synthroid to deal with it and that was that.

It was around this time that I started looking in to being a vegetarian. My best friends were all vegetarians, and I thought they were crazy. I went to the library to find books about why being a vegetarian would be dangerous, but I found just the opposite. There was so much research on why it is a safe, responsible choice that I decided I would try it. I was vegetarian for almost 10 years, even vegan on and off. I thought I was saving my health.

At first it was wonderful, I felt great, had more energy than ever, and what I considered the best thing; I was part of an elite group of people that took pride in their health. During that time though, I was never able to get rid of my winter eczema, I still had a hard time with my blood glucose levels and near the end, I started gaining more weight.

Which brings me to now. I’ve found paleo, even better, autoimmune paleo, and it has changed my life. I am finally in tune with my body and the food that I eat. I’ve lost 25 lbs, and I’m trying to lose more. I eat clean, and healthy and I consistently have normal blood glucose levels. I’ve reduced my cholesterol (not enough for my doctor’s liking), triglycerides. I still have work to do with my A1C (average blood glucose over a couple month period) but I like to think I’m a work in progress.

I honestly wish I had known about paleo when I was first diagnosed with T1 diabetes. I think it could have helped me so much. I wish all children diagnosed with T1 diabetes were told about paleo. It seems ridiculous that we’re taught in the hospital to eat 50-60% of our calories from carbohydrates and to mitigate that with insulin when there is a much easier approach.

Funny, now that I think about it, whenever I went to see the nutritionist at the hospital, I always wanted to trade my starches for proteins! I always did love my meat!



Nothing Much to Report

We went out for dinner last night. I had a bun-less burger with the house salad with balsamic vinaigrette. I forgot to ask them to leave off the BBQ sauce, so I ate it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had gluten or a ton of glucose in it because my blood sugars were a bit higher than usual for after dinner. I got as high as a 12.8, which, normally I wouldn’t be terribly concerned about. However, since that’s the highest they’ve ever been since I started my Paleo Challenge, I gave myself 3 units of novorapid. They slowly started coming down, and then I gave myself the now 16 units of levemir (down from 18!)

I gave Martin the crispy onions from on top of my burger because they were probably dusted in flour and then fried. He told me that it probably wouldn’t matter if I ate them. I do love them. But I told him that weight loss meant a lot to me and that I was really trying hard to stick to the Challenge. He commended me and told me he was proud of me while he ate my onions.

It’s not so hard to implement paleo at home. I just got the kids Sarah Fragoso’s book, Paleo Pals: Jimmy and the Carrot Rocket Ship. River is excited to be a paleo pal superhero, but she’s still eating macaroni and gross crap at my mom’s. I need to talk to my mom about the way she feeds the kids. Now if only I could find a way to do it without pissing her off. At least I got her to stop drinking gingerale. What I really want to do is get them to stop using margarine and use butter instead.

Anyway, nothing terribly delicious to report on, hopefully I’ll have a yummy pork tenderloin dinner tonight, but we’ll see.

Here’s some pictures I took from  my walk yesterday. My mom had Rowan, so I got to run with Poe down by the river. It was awesome. She scared a bunch of geese into the river, they were honking and grumpy.

Blood Sugars

I’m on day 2 of the Paleo challenge, and so far, my blood sugars are cruising pretty low. Which is great. Hyperglycemia, (high blood sugars) can cause all sorts of terrible things to happen in the body of a diabetic, including, Wiki said; “kidney damage, neurological damage, cardiovascular damage, damage to the retina, or damage to feet and legs. Diabetic neuropathy may be a result of long-term hyperglycemia.”

That’s some pretty scary stuff. There was a point a few months ago when I was having 20’s pretty frequently. For those of you unfamiliar with the lingo, blood sugars means the amount of sugar in your blood. I like to keep my blood sugars between 5/mmol and 9/mmol. 20 is  way too high, 3.9 is pretty low, but it should be monitored to make sure it doesn’t drop any lower.  Anything lower than a 3.1 is too low and should dealt with immediately. That’s how it works for me, anyway.

Having been much more active in the last few days than I have been, I’ve noticed that my blood sugars have been on the lower side of normal. Today, after lunch, it dropped to 2.8 so I had myself a banana. I’ve been avoiding sugary fruits because I’m trying to lose weight, but when the blood sugars drop, I need sugar, ASAP. I’d much rather eat a banana than white refined sugar.

I read a really interesting article by Robb Wolf that discusses type 1 diabetics and crossfit workouts. As a diabetic, it’s better for me to focus on strength training than high intensity cardio because during a high intensity workout, the liver releases a lot of glucose, which messes with my blood sugars. When they get too high, I would does myself with some insulin, but later on my blood sugars would drop too low because of the excess insulin and because the workout brings the sugars down for hours afterwords.

Looks like walking is my new best friend for cardio. Along with weight lifting.

Also, Robb Wolf wrote this but I definitely think they are good rules to live by to help my diabetes:

1-Eat a ketogenic diet. Use the Zone calculator to find your block numbers, then use 42 ways to skin the Zone to bring your carbs to below 50g/day for men, 30g for most women. Adjust fat upwards appropriately for calorie maintenance and when you need to up calories overall for maintenance. I’d add the additional caveat to make this a gluten/dairy free paleo diet. We have seen instance of people REVERSING Type 1 diabetes with a paleo diet because they put their autoimmunity in remission.

2-SLEEP. Screw up your sleep and you are killing your insulin sensitivity. This goes for everyone but especially for the Type 1 diabetic who will battle to keep blood sugar levels normal/low.

3-Chill out. Stress messes with insulin sensitivity AND it releases sugar from the liver. Don’t do it.

4-Ttrain Smart. I mentioned some examples above. Lift heavy, then sit on your ass. Repeat. Intensity (in the puke on your shoes sense) is what drives hepatic glucose release. Take a walk for some “cardio”. Be content with being able to lift a house and have 5% bodyfat, but a shitty Fran time.

5-Train Dumb, but map it. Most of you are CrossFiters and thus, will ignore the most important part of this (number 4) because you will DIE if you do not see God during a WOD. Fine, I’m not going to argue with you on the topic, it’s your life, but at least use your head. Start the intensity low (this may mean stepping back a little…you can do it) and mapping your blood glucose response after various WOD’s. How much does Fran elevate your numbers? Helen? Filthy Fifty? You need to build an inventory of what WOD’s do what to you. Then…hope for the best, because every time you do a WOD like this things are different. And you may have a dramatically different response than you might have guessed…hence, recommendation number 4.

Alright, so I have my plan. Eat paleo. Reduce carbs. Focus on strength training. Sleep more. Do different workouts and watch how they affect my blood sugars.

One more thing, I’m pretty excited about the lows only because it means I might start reducing my long acting insulin! Less insulin means less weight! (Please know that I have an appointment to see my family doctor soon and that I’m doing everything real slow, nice and easy so I don’t end up wrecking my body.)