I haven’t blogged about myself in much depth because for years my lawyer banned me from blogging about even the most trivial personal item. I did graze the line when I ranted about raccoons, but I think that was forgivable. No one can withstand a raccoon rant.
But today, I turn a new, quivery leaf, for I’m still reeling from the unsurprising diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes. It’s no surprise because the feast-and-famine-otherwise-known-as-diabetic gene runs in my family. I’m reeling because I’m not that overweight, not even close to obese, unlike many I know, but I’m the one who gets rammed by this news, on top of everything else I’ve had to digest, absorb, adjust to over the last 9, almost 10 years. I’m a little ticked off to say the least.
Before Y2K, I ate a mostly low-GI (glycemic index) diet, rowed a stationary rowing machine, did free weights, and walked a lot. I cooked every day — I loved it! — and rarely ate out because, ahem, my food just tasted better. But the car crash changed that. Not being able to cook for myself meant for years I was dependent on microwavable meals, other people’s idea of nutrition (tasty though), and vegetarian takeout, all of which was higher in fat, salt, and simple sugars than I was used to. Plus being in so much pain had me chucking back the Green & Black’s chocolate like candy. But my real weight gain didn’t happen until I caved in to all the pressure and rented out my basement to a fellow church goer. What a selfish, ungrateful piece of shit she was; she took full advantage of my slow thinking and inability to stand up for myself. Let’s just say my chocolate consumption shot up and I needed my friends’ help to get her pot-smoking, criminal friend out of there. Never again! Meanwhile, the neck and shoulder sprains meant I wasn’t able to exercise for 3 months and then had to start all over again and increase it at glacial speed. And when I thought I was better enough and increased it to close to normal, I bloated up like the Michelin man, including inside of my mouth, and freaked myself out. My skin also freaked out.
Still, I knew that gaining weight was a no-no for me, something I’d easily avoided before the Y2K crash. I had lost some, but then I started brain biofeedback treatments, which was exhausting and made me inhale a can of pop — me, who rarely drank the stuff — after each treatment. I guess that since the brain requires glucose to work, it was feeling seriously deprived after each session. Once the treatments were done, the craving went, and I stopped. Still, the damage had been done; with no support, no knowledgeable help, I couldn’t lose weight on my own again. I had too much else on my plate and was weary from 9 solid years of learning and working to get better.
And then this summer, that all changed. I got a new GP. The first thing he did was hook me up with a trainer. The first thing the trainer did was listen hard and listen well. No one had done that before. All I’d heard was lose weight or you don’t exercise enough or you exercise more than I do or you just have to exercise willpower, never mind that my willpower was shot from all the brain injury recovery. In short, all completely useless and unsupportive. (Oprah ain’t kidding when she says to lose weight, you need support; if you can’t get it at home, here are “my community forums.”) He suggested I cut my exercise back to the point where I stopped bloating up at night and could sleep flat. Once we determined that was 10 minutes three times a week, we made that our starting point. I cannot tell you how much of a relief it was for someone to take my concerns seriously and to think about how to get around the problems in a win-win way. Even today, after speaking to him, I went from being overwhelmed as to how I’m going to do all this, to feeling that I can do it.
Anyway, my GP ran a bunch of blood tests, including the ones I’d wanted to have done for months and months as I myself was concerned about my iron and Vitamin D levels. Unfortunately, my glucose levels came back too high. And so he did a glucose challenge, A1C, and fasting glucose. All bad. The challenge was double the max normal level; the latter two were just over the max. After rerunning the tests, he confirmed that yes I’m diabetic, Type 2, but right on the borderline. In short, I follow his instructions else he’ll send me to an endocrinologist. Since he and I had already discussed my views on those specialists, he knew that would be a very big incentive for me to comply.
The trainer had already told me to eat 1,700 calories a day once he had got me up to 15 minutes of exercise three times per week. Now my GP wanted me to buy The GI Diet by Rick Gallop. As I mentioned earlier, I was familiar with this (I’ve even met the guy, Dr. David Jenkins, who developed it here at the Faculty of Nutrition, University of Toronto), but like so much else since the crash, I have to relearn it. Can I tell you how sick I am of relearning stuff? A lot!
It’s going to be a gradual process for me. On the one hand, I act on what I’m told right away — I was told to buy the book, I went to the bookstore immediately and bought the Menopause Clinic version as it was the only copy on the shelf — and I have much knowledge; on the other hand, I am slow to absorb and implement stuff. Last night I read the relevant parts over and over, and this morning I reread and reread the section on breakfast. I finally figured out he meant ½ cup of oatmeal flakes not ½ cup of cooked porridge. Luckily, I had been eating the right kind of oatmeal — not instant, but big flakes of rolled oats — with skim milk and the ubiquitous wheat bran (if you know my Dad, you’d know you can’t have breakfast sans bran) but not enough. So I upped it. After talking to my trainer, I shall be adding frozen blueberries to the porridge and then have a boiled egg with cold toast. (One piece of good news is my cholesterol levels are OK, so I can eat eggs.) I had my mid-morning snack, which took a bit of thought as I’m not exactly swimming in acceptable snackable foods. I have no idea what I’ll do for lunch, so I’d better go start thinking about it so I’ll have it ready to eat before my stomach is eating my mouth.
A lot of changes are happening all of a sudden. I’ve applied for and am getting support for my brain injury issues and now I’m having to deal with changing to a full-on low-GI diet, which means I’ll have to figure out how to cook more often for myself. Constant change is nothing new, for anyone with a brain injury knows that’s all your life is about: change. Changing brain, changing life, changing habits. I just wish it was my decision alone, not my health’s, not God’s.