Back in September I wrote about my Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis and my early impressions with The GI Diet, and then I forgot all about reading the diet book every week and went on to more fun things like writing my novel and blogging about NaNoWriMo. But today I met with my GP to go over my pre-Christmas blood test results, check my feet (for diabetic foot problems), and weigh me.
He had given me two goals back in September: change my diet and lose weight. I’ve lost weight so slowly, a glacier would pass me by, and though I stuck more or less to The GI Diet, I absolutely refused to give up chocolate. I also wasn’t too worried about my cholesterol levels — my GP hadn’t discussed them much, being more focused on my sugar levels, and my impression was that they were OK — and I’d kept eating whole eggs, including yolks, and a mix of full-fat and low-fat cheeses. I have to say Whole Foods so far has the best selection of low-fat cheeses; they’re not rubbery and flavourless. (On a side note, I gotta ask why, when I’m vegetarian, use skim milk, haven’t eaten meat for years, and have good genetics for lipid levels, do I have any cholesterol issues?)
And so I trudged through the snow today to my GP’s with great trepidation. Then when he began rhyming off my bloodwork numbers, eight and a half years of “get over it,” “move on,” “you’re focusing too much on your problems,” interfered with my hearing. This is what Dr. Phil means about needing 1000 atta girl/boys to overcome 1 bad girl/boy. Even though I knew all these years that I was badly injured and that what I was doing was making me better — and that “getting over it” and gossiping about my weight behind my back was not going to do a thing to help me be better — hearing and reading from several sources how I was a complete F-Up year after year soaked into my soul, made it difficult to believe that my behaviour has done me good. Actually “staggeringly good” as my GP put it. He went through a few adjectives like “amazing” before deciding that “staggeringly good” was the best way to put my progress. His resident concurred.
What I thought of as a tiny weight loss, he thought amazing. What I thought were not-so-hot cholesterol numbers, he thought were amazing as I’d gone in the right direction in both HDL/Cholesterol ratio and LDL levels*. What I wondered was enough of a drop in blood sugar, he thought was impressive. And to my amazement, especially since I’m on beta blockers, both my heart rate and blood pressure have dropped. I’m hoping that writing this down will help me to absorb it. One of the problems I think many of us have who want to lose weight is that we’re surrounded by ads and articles extolling rapid and dramatic weight loss, when in fact it’s excruciatingly slow and small incremental losses that doctors and trainers want to see in their clients. That way, it’s permanent. I didn’t give up on my diet although my weight didn’t change for weeks on end sometimes, mostly because having experienced the frozen-molasses healing rate of brain injury where improvement is seen over months and years, I was used to slow change. And also because I’d have to account to my GP. (Apparently, the latter is not an issue for most people. One guy took over a year to call the doc back about his blood test results cause he was busy. Clearly, he doesn’t give a crap about his health.) Still, I couldn’t believe I’d succeeded.
Seeing my disbelief, he bluntly told me that of the general population, only 5% can change their lipid levels through diet and exercise. Fortunately, I’m in that 5%. However, of that 5%, only a miniscule number, such a low number in fact, it’s barely worth registering, actually do something about it, actually change their diet and begin exercise. So for me to do something about it is something to cheer about — it is staggeringly good. Plus it’s good to know chocolate is not bad for my diabetes. I shall have a hot chocolate to celebrate.
Updated 24 August 2012:
The old 2006 guidelines were changed in 2009 (pdf explanation) and are now more aggressive:
Low risk: LDL ≥5.0 mmol/l and chol/HDL ratio >6.0 mmol/l with high triglycerides
Moderate: LDL >3.5 and chol/HDL ratio >5.0
High: Reynolds Risk Score of ≥20% or have one or more of coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, and atherolosclerosis, or most people with diabetes.
Target levels LDL <2.0 mmol/l, a 50% decrease or more of LDL, or apoB <0.8g/l
Triglycerides target: <1.7 mmol/l
Simply having your total cholesterol tested is insufficient.