What’s the score?
Kids, it is time for me to get a little bit real with you. On Valentines Day of this year I ended up at an Immediate Care Center. The night before I was watching some basketball and Liz was out of town and I was having trouble reading the scores on the television. Smaller text just seemed to be a bit blurry, but I told myself that I was just tired from being a single parent that night while Liz was out of town. That I just needed some rest and all would be fine. When I woke up on Valentines Day, things weren’t much better. Actually, that is a lie. They were worse. I was frantically trying to get Claire ready for school though and then get to my office meeting so I didn’t really have time to process how bad things were. The drive to Claire’s daycare though was a lot more stressful than it needed to be. I noticed that I couldn’t read the license plates on the cars in front of me. I couldn’t read the road signs. Big objects I was fine with, but the little items were impossible for me to see clearly. I was worried. My vision was one of the few things that I had going for me. In the past I could see pretty far away and read the really, really, really fine print on things without any issues.
You okay Bro?
The drive to the office meeting that morning and the trip from the daycare after dropping off Claire was only about 5 miles round trip. So I wasn’t driving very far, or even very fast. All local roads with an average speed of about 40 MPH. I was starting to sweat though and feel flush. I was running late though to my own meeting and I shook it off as just stress and anxiety of running late. My fear was starting to build though. My vision wasn’t getting better. When I got to my office meeting, I pulled Chris aside real quick and told him that I was having some trouble with my vision and I wasn’t feeling great. I wanted to let someone know what was going on and at the very least. Chris is a volunteer firefighter and they do first-responder runs. So he isn’t an EMT, but if something did happen, he was going to be the first person available to offer help. That was the first time that I admitted to myself that something wasn’t right.
Nearly all of the fall of 2016 I was fighting leg cramps and cramps in my abs and into my lower chest. I’d have some coughing fits and then get cramps in my abs or in my lower chest and have to spend 20 minutes trying to get stretched out or relaxed enough to get them to go away. I was waking up most nights two and three times with leg cramps. At least once a month I was limping around because the leg cramps were so bad, my muscles were actually sore the next day as if I had been to the gym. I Googled leg cramps and saw that I should be hydrating and eating potassium and I even picked up some supplements to help. But nothing gave me any relief from the cramps. In an effort to help with the hydration, we started buying Gatorades.
I’d drink 3 or 4 of the 28 ounce bottles of Gatorade each day, and I did that for a few months. Including a 10 day stretch when Liz and I were visiting her parents in Florida and I was drinking even more of them. I was drinking so much that I was having to go to the bathroom every hour it seemed like. So in addition to being woke up with leg cramps at night, I was also having to go pee 3 and 4 times a night. I was turning into a zombie, but my youngest daughter Grace, was 4 months at the time and she was waking up at least once a night, if not twice a night. So I shrugged it off as being a Dad to an infant.
After the office meeting, I decided that I needed to visit a Dr. So I asked my parents if they could continue to watch Grace while I went to the Dr. I didn’t have a primary care Doctor who I could schedule an appointment with, so I had to find someone. My Doctor had retired and I hadn’t found a new one yet. There is a little Dr office in the heart of Pewee, so I just drove over there and tried to get an appointment. They did schedule me for almost a week later… but during the process of getting my info, one of the ladies stepped over and started listening to what I was saying a little bit more intently. The lady taking my info asked another question and then the second lady made a comment along the lines of — “Based on what he is saying, I’m trying to determine if he needs to go to the immediate care center instead of waiting.” So I left there with an appointment for a week later essentially. As I mentioned earlier, Liz was out of town. So I was trying to keep her updated and during one of our text exchanges she reminded me that I was about to drive to Atlanta. The idea of driving to Atlanta suddenly made me nervous. I had already admitted to myself that something wasn’t right. Since my trip to Atlanta was really important to me, I decided to go ahead and go to the immediate care center.
472, Is That High?
The quick and nitty gritty of the immediate care center visit is that the Dr already had a pretty good indication of what was going on, so they pricked my finger real quick and tested my glucose level. The nurse said… “Your number is 472, that could be part of your problem.” But the way she said it, I didn’t catch onto her sarcasm. I wasn’t exactly in top form as I’ve mentioned. So I asked her… “Is that high?” She quickly told me that it should be under 100 and closer to 80 was normal. So yes, mine was almost 5 times higher than normal! I was put on some medication to help my body lower the blood sugar and I was told to stay away from high carb foods and concentrated sugars and to keep my Doctor’s appointment for the following week and I’d get more instruction then.
My Dad made a call to the Doctor he and my brother had been visiting and whom they really liked and he squeezed me in just a few days after being diagnosed. This was two days later, but still before my trip to Atlanta. I honestly don’t remember much from that visit. I think I was still mostly in shock about things. They took blood. He started me on some more drugs and asked me to start testing my blood glucose a few times a day to see how it was doing. He told me about some classes I could take so I could learn more about coping with Diabetes. There… I said it. I’m a diabetic. Type 2 Diabetic to be more specific.
That was a month ago. Today my numbers are much better and I’m learning what, and how I can eat. I’ve cut out sodas and Gatorades from my diet 100%. I’m eating naked burritos instead of having flour tortillas. I’m avoiding french fries and potato chips with a 95% success rate 🙂 2016 was an amazing year for Liz and I. We built our new home and welcomed Grace into the world. It was also very stressful and I honestly hadn’t taken care of myself. I had gained a lot of weight over the past 5 years. But I was especially hard on my body in 2015 and 2016. The plan had always been that 2017 was going to be the year that Liz and I were going to be able to focus more attention to living healthier. We would have a new home and a great kitchen to cook in. We’d have a basement that we could put some fitness equipment in if we decided to, etc. Prior to being diagnosed, I had already lost 20 pounds in the past 5 months. How much of that was due to better eating and how much of that was due to my body starving itself because of being a diabetic I can’t really say. But we had already started putting in the effort. It wasn’t as dedicated as I am now… but the process had started.
Today, roughly 5 weeks since I was diagnosed I’m about 12 pounds lighter. The weight has been consistently coming off around 2 to 2.5 pounds a week. I’m feeling a lot better. I haven’t had a leg or ab/lower chest cramp since getting my glucose down. My vision returned to normal within a week. Evidently, when your blood is full of sugar, it gets thick like syrup and that was causing the little vessels in my eyeballs to swell and that was keeping my eye from properly being able to focus the lenses in my eye. I’m not waking up to go pee 3 and 4 times a night. I’m sleeping better, and I’m not waking up as tired… and I actually have more energy during the day. It is amazing how fixing that one thing had so many other positive impacts on my life so far. Which brings me to grocery shopping…
Lets Go Krogering
Unfortunately now I can’t put anything in my cart without looking at the label. I have to compare it to two or three other brands. I have to look at the carbs, the sugars, the fiber. Looking to see what the portion size is listed as. Checking to see if I can find it in a whole wheat version instead… trying to figure out how I can sneak more leafy greens into my diet when I don’t really like leafy greens. I’m buying stuff that supposedly taste like meat, but isn’t meat. I’m having to let go of recipes that I love making and each week and I am trying to find new ways to prepare things. I hate it. Grocery shopping is a chore now. I’m a better man now though. A healthier man. Probably a better father and a better spouse now since I have more energy. But grocery shopping right now still makes me grumpy. It is a constant reminder of all of the things that I can’t have, or as I learned in my Diabetes Management Class… I shouldn’t have. Or at least that I shouldn’t have without fitting it into my meal plan for the day and of course with proper portion control.
I’m happy though. I’m on the road to being healthier. I’m setting a better example for my daughters. I’m sleeping better. I’m more productive. I have more energy. I’m glad to have finally figured out the cramp issues I was having. Life isn’t perfect, and I’m not perfect. But I’m trying hard each day to be better than I was the day before… and I think I’m making that progress!