Sunday, 19 February 2012

Type 2 Diabetes - One mans story


My Doctor and my wife had been telling me for a few years to lose a few kilos, but of course I did nothing. The thought of my weight was so depressing, I’d have a few chocolate bars a day and six sugar laden cappuccinos to cheer me up.

It’s not like I hadn’t been told. Junk food has always been my comfort and my curse. I’m 55 with a sedentary job as a journalist, living on my nerves and deadlines. I’m also 183cm and 132 kg.

I wound up at the doctors with an ingrown toenail. Admittedly, it’s a pretty gross way to find out you have the most common disease of Australians over 40. The podiatrists looked at my belly, then my feet and then checked with a needle to see if I had lost any sensation. MY GP then organised a glucose test; the numbers were off the chart. In my case the results were twice as normal. Scary.

Diabetes is an insidious disease. As you can still function normally when your body is falling apart. You don’t really notice it. Terrifyingly, you can have it for decades with barely any symptoms. Common signs are thirst, tiredness and frequent urination – the kind of things that can be passed off as the by-products of a normally stressfully life
Accordingly to the 2005-05 Australian National Health Survey 582,800 people reported having type 2 diabetes, while Diabetes Australia estimates that there are at least that many going undiagnosed. However as mild as the symptoms can be, if it really takes hold the consequences are grace – gangrene and the loss of limbs., renal (kidney) failure and blindness. I’m suddenly wishing I had listened to my wife when she told me to cut down on the chocolate.

Six months later....................

In the months after my initial diagnosis I’ve lost 10 kilos and my energy levels have doubled. I no longer need afternoon naps and my breathing is more regular.

For me the combination of reducing my blood sugar through diet, medication, and exercise resulted in enormous boosts of energy. I am no longer fighting fatigue and it feels great. I also went to a gym and go a basic program to do a few times a week – 30 minutes on the walking machine and the same on weights. I’ve cut down on alcohol and have a maximum of 2 drinks per week. I’ve learnt to love fruit that is in season, and lettuce is now my friend.

Amazingly I found my appetite dropped after adding regular exercise to my routine. Strangely I feel better living with diabetes than without it. Fresh food and exercise do wonders for your well being. I have some mild, permanent nerve damage in my feet, but thankfully everything else is working really well.

Diet is critical. The good news is that I found cravings eventually dropped naturally. My new slogan is: “Never eat anything that a caveman wouldn’t recognise as food.” Nowadays my staples are fresh fruit, vegetables, pulses and anything else high in fibre. I now favour apples, watermelon, celery, lettuce and tomatoes over hot chips.

It’s no surprise that diabetes has increased in the community alongside an increase in convenience meals from the supermarket.  Most things can be part of your diet as long as they are in moderation and balanced by a healthy varied diet.

Some people, like my health obsessed wife, scan the nutritional information on every packet, but frankly, I know I am never going to. So I just stay away. If you are anything like me you will need broad guidelines.  Go fresh and crunchy; choose food from as close to the soil and as lean as possible. Don’t use a lot of fat or oil in cooking. Simple.

Before I’d be the first one to grab a doughnut. However today, I have taken sugar almost completely out of my diet, and have taken up fruit and lean, grilled protein. I have medication I take before my meals, but otherwise I am not impaired in any way., which is fantastic. I am a size Smaller, which my wife is ecstatic about. Afternoon naps have been eradicated and my energy levels have tripled.

I have never felt better, So in one sense, amazingly, getting diabetes has actually improved my life.

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