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Thursday, March 13, 2014

I Am Now A Diabetic

Yup… I am now officially a diabetic. Let's party! Have some cake!

I was diagnosed as such three weeks ago, and after a week-long bout with bronchitis, I finally got on a pill called Metaformin which is supposed to bring my blood sugar levels down to a normal level.

It's my own fault.

Ever since I was a kid, I'd been guzzling sugars. Lots of them.

I used to go through 24 cans of Coca-Cola in a few days as a pre-teen, suck back Lola's (frozen, flavored ice), guzzle orange juice, apple juice and more. Chips, ice-cream, if it was placed in front of me or anywhere near me like at a convenience store it as down my throat.

I never had a weight problem. I played lots of soccer, rode my bicycle everywhere and rarely sat on my ass.

Then, when I was 18 and entered university, I also stopped playing soccer and my 145-lb frame jumped up to 170-lbs.

Then… when I went to Japan, despite my 175-lb weight being then-perfect for my height, I went to Japan… and everyday I would consume a 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola. Ice cream after sex… and since it was Japan and I was finally getting sex - and lots of it, I was eating a lot of sweet stuff for the sugar rush energy.

It helped counter the tiredness after an all-night drinking binge which, it being Japan, happened often, though not every day.

I should note that I did not go drinking with the other AETs (assistant English teachers) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme often… Matthew and I might share a beer each once a week, but really, it was me being social with my Japanese neighbors and friends about Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City) in Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture).

I didn't have to drink as much as I did, of course, but I never got a hangover and as such never learned my lesson. It was always social drinking, but there was an expectation that the big ol gaijin (foreigner) needed to not only keep up, but exceed his smaller Japanese compatriots… as if to prove a point that I was as good as them.

Hebi durinka. That's heavy drinker in Japanese-English… and was only accused of that as we drank, as the next day I was the only one of any particular group able to function.

But… I put on weight and felt enormous at 185 lbs.

At one point in Japan, I did take up jogging, and worked up to 10 kilometers a night… to go along with riding my bicycle everywhere. The weight dropped back off to a respectable 175 lbs after a month. Though I will state that after working out, I drank one liter of milk and two liters of Coke. Every night.

When I left Japan for Toronto back in 1993, I continued my drinking bad habits two to three times a week at strip clubs, somehow managing to pick up dancers and even the harder to impress waitresses there who saw more goof men than anyone else… and yet, I wasn't a goof… just a funny guy who could drink a fair bit and who always had money.

That's what you get when you are single, employed and living at home. Plus the ability to talk the G-string off anyone.

Anyhow… at that time I began working out six times a week, starting taking creatine, whey powders, five small meals, steroids… I could smell the rum oozing out of my pores while on the Stair-Master for 60 minutes every day… like I said… I never had a hangover to learn from.

My weight was 180 lbs, my waist nice and trim at 32-inches, with a chest of 48-inches. I looked good and felt good.

Don't do steroids. I only took a couple of bottles-worth... and I didn't notice a difference over the boost I got from creatine... except that one day at the gym my body began to vibrate uncontrollably... no more steroids for me, thanks. That was Androstenedione. I got it from some health supplement company in the US, who called it a libido enhancer... but I knew what it really was...  

Then I got married to a regular woman, had a son… started this blog… had problems in my marriage thanks to mental health concerns - believe it or not, not my own - which did not drive me to drink, as you might suspect.

Nope… since meeting my wife 15 years ago, I've had maybe 15 alcoholic drinks in total.

So… since I wasn't drinking alcohol, when I was down regarding the situation around me, I sought out sweet, sugary delights. Chips, cookies, ice cream—things from my childhood, fast-food every day for lunch… and while I did receive a warning five years ago that my blood sugars were high, I did at least switch from Coke to Coke Zero (which has aspartine as a sweetener, rather than the naughty sugar I love). My sugar levels went down.

I can't stand Diet Coke because it tastes nothing like Coke, and at least Coke Zero is a close substitute if you pretend hard enough. And I did.

But… I continued with the other sugary things as things spiraled around me… and my weight hit a high of 230 lbs this past Christmas.

I had already developed sleep apnea because of my weight and had high cholesterol, but have been using a C-Pap machine for the past five years and take medication for the cholesterol… I felt immune…

I then I turned 49… and things began catching up to me. If they hadn't already been catching up... Now they were starting to nudge past me...

Actually, after turning 48, in February of 2013 my vision dropped like a rock and I couldn't see close-up. My eye-doctor suggested cheater glasses you can buy at a pharmacy… and I am wearing those now as I type this… over my contact lenses. Because... I didn't want bi-focal contact lenses.  

So… now I'm diabetic. The metaformin diabetes pill kills my stomach so that I'm going to the bathroom with great urgency… let's see… five times as of 1PM today…

My appetite is gone… but I think that has more to do with the fact that since the day after I recovered from bronchitis I've been suffering from headaches. In fact… for the first eight out of 10 days it felt like my head was going to explode and I had a very difficult time doing anything, such as writing these blogs daily or even going to work… but I did both.

It felt like someone was inflating a balloon inside my head…

In fact, since then… these past few days I have felt like I am going to get a headache, but I don't. Which is almost worse.

My eyes are tired… I am tired from the headaches and near-headaches… I've seen more doctors in the past 30 days than I have in three years… and I still have to see a nutritionist and an eye doctor.

The headaches… I never had headaches before. Maybe once in a blue moon, but not enough for me to actually have a bottle of pills handy. I wonder if it's a sinus thing… I blew a lot of crap out of there when I got rid of the last of the bronchitis… it was dark and bloody… and after that one big blow I knew the bronchitis was gone.

But the next day… headache…. for a week solid. The doctors just assumed it was my blood sugars… but really? just like that?

It dawned on me yesterday (Monday) that perhaps it was my eyes and diabetes… wouldn't that be a kick in the nuts? Go blind… I'm a writer… I drive to interview people… I read to research… and since I can't type, I have to look at the keyboard to write these words… damn. I don't want that...

And there you have it. A pretty sucky 2014, so far. I don't blame the Year of the Horse, of course, of course. We are all the architects of our own design and must take responsibility for our successes as well as our failings.

Anyhow… if I get a headache later tonight (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday) when we get a big snowfall, I'll assume it's a weather pressure sinus cavity headache…

Hopefully the eye doctor appointment a week or so from now shows no damage… even though I know the damage from diabetes has already begun.

I have people telling me not to take the pills to try diet and to try some other supplements and things… a friend dropped by yesterday with a book on what to eat and not eat…

According to him I'm still not eating right… but grains… avoid sugar and pastas… I'm taking the pill… I'm not snacking on anything except maybe some hummus and a multigrain cracker - a horrible combination, by the way - but really, with all that is going on, I don't even want to eat.

I know I must, however… a banana for breakfast… a sandwich for lunch… I used to eat that for breakfast and then get a 12-inch submarine sandwich, a bag of chips and a regular coke (because no one sells Coke Zero at fast-food restaurants - at least not enough do!) … and would (at work) hit the vending machine for another bag of chips or cookies and then as I left, a can of Coke to drink while in the car to stop my lips from getting parched and dry.

See… I was stupid. One month ago I didn't know anyone with diabetes… and now… my friends are coming out of the closet… and now I know three people.

People sort of warned me… but I chose not to listen.

I'm going to warn you, and you may do as you please, because that is your right.

Watch what you eat. Lay off the sugars. It's tough, because I now note that sugars are in damn near everything! Fruits, drinks, processed foods, vegetables… so… even if you can't cut them out - and rare is the person who has zero sugars in their diet, you should at least limit the amount you take in.

Before it's too late.

It's not too late for me… but it's getting darker…but at least I'm trying to turn on the light.

Andrew (213 lbs and dropping) Joseph
PS: If anyone wants to ask questions about sleep apnea, I will answer them.
If anyone wants to offer advice about diabetes, I'll at least read it. With appreciation. I know I screwed up.

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