Sunday, January 13, 2019

"Blood Sugar" aka My Disease Is Not a Punchline (... it's the setup)

By way of an appropriate New Year's-ish panel, I'm posting this rather lengthy recap of the most momentous incident that happened to me in 2018, one that will have repercussions for the rest of my life. Which is all to say, of course, I treat it like a damn joke.

Back in midsummer, on the first day of Visual Art Academy, I noticed I felt just slightly more crappier than usual. As in, sweating and shaking... blurring vision and constant trips to the bathroom were a couple other red flags in retrospect. Hell I just assumed I needed even more coffee than usual to right the ship.

Yeah/no: turned out after a trip to the doctor and a subsequent testing revealed my blood sugar levels were 496. Since the ideal was under 100, apparently I should've been a coma, much less trying to get through another day operating under the pretense of life as usual.

Even before returning to the doctor's office for follow-up consultation the pharmacy intervened with the urgent message my prescription was ready ("Wait/What prescription?"). Turned out a combination of genetic predisposition and blissful ignorance + my love of cooking & food + recent period of inactivity with increased output at the drawing board = walloped by a big reality check straight outta left-field. As in, start paying fucking attention or you'll wind up dead much sooner than expected. Another caveat is how for months before all this drama, I had successfully quit smoking cigarettes (again) after trying Chantix (with much trepidation, as my previous experience with Wellbutrin didn't go so well). Problem was, I didn't feel any better at all, and was like, what the hell is it worth?Again, I had no idea that meanwhile in the background my body was fighting a losing battle that undermined everything else.

Long story short, was that within one week of I dropped ten pounds, then thirty-five over another month. This was accomplished without any exercise, as working ten-fifteen hours M-F kinda left me tapped out at the end of the day. So no sugar, nothing fried, and tons of water in conjunction with portion control was what's making the difference. I also basically graze my way through the day with nuts, fruits and veggies. I hadn't ever seen a doctor actually happy before - it was probably a real treat to have a patient actually follow through their advice and pull a complete 180.So I was taken off the meds (godawful stuff) and put under long-term monitoring program. I'll never forget after that first week the sensation of walking from where my car was parked on campus to the building where I teach, and the full onslaught of sights, sounds and smells hit me like some kind of sensory overload. For the first time in years I felt alive, and started to have massive bursts of energy. Which is being channeled into lengthening walks and increased outings with the bike + canoe. Only eighty more pound to go...

The coupon on the receipt after buying my first diabetes cookbook

All that being said, I still get hit with some pretty savage withdrawal cravings... like literally drooling my way past my favorite stromboli joint on my way to the health-food store next-door. There are times when I get so damn depressed and angry, especially when I think about all the associations I have with food. Especially cheesecake. And I'm also really gonna miss pie in other forms, plus hot dogs, pizza, chicken wings, clam strips, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, fried chicken, BBQ (slathered in sauce), lasagna, gyros... the list goes on and on. And also the ritual of breakfast sammiches from my favorite coffee drive-through, or any of the other huts I haunt for that matter, hell even the traditional mochas, not to mention the seasonal eggnog lattes that get me through the long winters. Another example of how it's quite a shift in having to adjust my thinking away from downing an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's for dessert to instead discovering the unexpectedly luxurious joy of Greek yogurt instead. Still, I used to be a vegetarian for many years, and have just as strong a history as an avid outdoorsman to merit much in the way of hope for maintaining a positive attitude about meeting this challenge. Still, sometimes it really, really sucks.

Homemade tzatziki sauce to go with baked falafel in spinach wraps

But on the bright side I now get to make fun of myself in new ways, much to the consternation of the contingent that thinks none of this is funny at all. Hence the preemptive “My disease is not your punchline!” is a big hint at my own personal coping mechanisms, much in the same manner I somehow still manage to struggle through each and every damn depressing day and live to laugh about it. Like humor, hope is everywhere if you know how to look.


  1. Replies
    1. Literally.
      Thanks - I ought to still be around a bit longer now...

  2. Our competitive lives force us out of balance. It is so normalized that our culture praises and celebrates the out-of-balance life as virtuous. Just as the environment needs way more open space than people believe, so does a healthy human need more variety of input and output than our culture allows for. It leads to the increase in diseases of imbalance. I'm glad that you are regaining balance. My kidney stone experience made me aware of how easily a diet can be out of balance even if it looks somewhat healthy. And I have to watch for diabetes because of some family history. So far, I have avoided it. But the physical body also reflects the assaults on time budgeting and -- for lack of a better word -- spiritual balance that a money-driven, achievement oriented culture turns into norms.

    1. I tell myself there's a reason the classic Buddha has that body: I have become grounded and achieved proper balance when you can't tip me over.
      Agreed that the individual state of affairs is reflected in the sad situation of the planet - no doubt the system will rein in excess with its own shutdown, reboot and restore harmony (unfortunately at the expense of the disruptive elements).