A Message of Hope
(Spoiler alert: this post does have a happy ending 🙂
When my wife was diagnosed with Diabetes roughly ten years ago, I had no idea about things like: how sick she could become, how daily vigilance of food is necessary, how many people die each year from the disease or accompanying complications. I didn’t know there are about 110 million diabetic and pre-diabetic people in the United States of America and over 400 million around the world. To me, that’s crazy!!
When Dar (my wife) and I began the Diabetes journey, we took the steps that were prescribed to us by our family physician. She recommended taking the American Diabetes Association (ADA) classes, so we did. She was instructed to take blood glucose readings four times a day, which at that time, included finger pricks with a needle. The test strips worked sometimes and other times had “humid” readings. I am still unsure what that meant. She was instructed to start the whole process over, use another costly strip, and poke again.
The classes were terrifying. We were told in no uncertain terms that Diabetes is a progressive disease and that we could only expect the worst. We were told in detail what’s coming in the future and how badly the disease would ravage her body. I cried a lot back then. We were told she should eat 30-45 carbs per meal 5-6 times per day. Yet, it’s the carbs they said are the problem. When I asked why my wife should eat the food 5-6 times a day that would eventually kill her, I was told that carbs are needed to balance blood glucose throughout the day. I became the primary cook who measured, sifted and weighed every ingredient. I couldn’t tolerate the idea that the woman who had chosen to be with me would eventually live in pain while we waited for worse. Not, today, maybe not tomorrow, but “it’s coming”.
An important measure of Diabetes is a blood test named the A1C. An A1C is taken quarterly and reflects the average blood glucose in the blood over a 90 day period. This information is suppose to be helpful. I find the experience to be demoralizing. Doctors would like the A1C to be under 7.0. So, quarter after quarter, we waited with anticipation to see if the A1C lowered. Every quarter I beat myself up because the number was not under 7.0. It went up and then down and then up again, etc.
And, so it went over the years.
We played it the ADA’s way until my wife, in no uncertain terms, told me she was done with the ADA. She had been experiencing complications that created unnecessary stress. I was relieved. The ADA methods didn’t seem to be working well. Dar’s glucose was stable, but overall, not getting much lower. My wife decided she was going to go a different way.
Now for the hope. In April, 2018, my cousin Amy, a doctor at Mayo Clinic was in a devastating car accident. Ok, that’s not hopeful. But, what happened was Amy had time on her hands while she was recovering. I mentioned our dilemma and she jumped at the opportunity to educate us, specifically on food. Why food?
Diabetes is a DIETARY disease. Let me say that again. Diabetes is a dietary disease. If you feed your body the correct foods, blood glucose will lower to the point where the body is no longer being damaged.
Amy has worked with us for about six months and in that time, Dar’s blood sugar averages around 120. We are told that damage to the body starts at around 170. Her A1C has dropped. It is not under 7.0 yet, but we are both hopeful. Yes, I said I’m hopeful that the A1C will be under 7.0 in the near future. In the mean time, Dar has lost weight and gained energy, yahoo!
A few things that Amy has taught us is the importance of protein and fat. Fat? Yes. By changing the foods that we eat to increase protein and fat, the carbs that are eaten are balanced out. We now “pair” foods. I make delicious protein shakes that are consumed at the same time as a lower carb, higher fat meal. We’ve learned that our digestive system needs a rest several times a day, so we oblige by not eating between meals. With the higher fat and protein, we are far less hungry between meals. Typically, we don’t eat after 6:00 pm. Why? Fasting plays a role in regulating blood sugar.
Amy has encouraged us to try things I’ve never considered because I didn’t feel I had enough knowledge or time. We now make bone broth. It’s easy! We’ve been introduced to the Instant Pot, NutriBullet (my all time favorite appliance), and Lodge cast iron pans.
A very important addition to our diabetes journey has been the addition of the Freestyle Libre which instantly scans blood glucose. Although I am not diabetic, both Dar and I are using the Libre. This tech item has a sensor that inserts into the back of the arm. The housing for the mini-computer is about the size of 2 stacked quarters. We call ourselves Borgs. The Libre has a “reader” that we can scan over the sensor and it gives us an immediate blood sugar reading. There are no more needles or test strips. There are no more painful finger tips or “humid” readings. I genuinely love the Freestyle. It is available with a prescription from your doctor and for us, approval through the insurance company. What I, personally, discovered is that I have very low blood sugar, averaging around 65. This means that I adjust my food to keep my blood sugar in the normal ranges. I finally have an answer for why I kept running into doors and feeling tipsy.
Finally. Finally, we have a path. There is a path to fantastic health even for someone diagnosed with Diabetes. Dar calls Amy her Curative Consultant. I call her a miracle.