On December 28th 2012 I was sitting in the examination chair in my ophthalmologist’s office. He was jotting down some notes on the eye exam I’d just taken and failed. Since November of that year my distance vision was getting worse. It was so bad I was having trouble reading street signs while driving. Degrading vision isn’t uncommon in 40-somethings so naturally I just needed glasses. Then my doc hit me with some questions.
“Have you been thirsty, like a lot?”
“Yeah.”, I replied.
“Peeing a lot? Especially at night?”
I don’t even remember the third question because in that moment I new he was going to tell me. I had diabetes.
2011 was not a great health year for me. Work/Life was out of balance. I had let things go. I flew 100 thousand air miles that year. I was on the road getting little or no exercise. My diet consisted of fast food and big nighttime meals with clients. I had ballooned to 282lbs. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but subconsciously I felt the bill was coming due. I had already set up an appointment with my General Practitioner for the day after my eye doctor. In hindsight I should have flipped those appointments around.
“You are diabetic, or pre-diabetic.”, he said. “Your GP should confirm this. Oh and don’t waste money on glasses just yet. The problem with your eyesight is probably just executes water and glucose swelling the lenses in your eyes. It’s likely to clear up once you get the sugar under control. Ok?”
“And loose some weight.”
I walked home in a mental fog. When walked in the door I told my wife the news. She wasn’t surprised and didn’t hit me with the “I told you so” routine. She was great. We knew this would mean big changes but the lifestyle modification (better diet/more exercise) wasn’t a bad thing. Still I think I stayed home the rest of the day, sitting on my comfy chair, expecting to literally explode or something. It’s funny. I had had periods of “healthy living” in my life but I had always fallen off that wagon. People always warned me this day would come. It was a wakeup call. Thankfully it wasn’t in the form of a heart attack or something really debilitating. This diagnosis (or pre-diagnosis) seemed like a second chance.
The next day at the GP he checked my blood glucose which came in at a whopping 384. Normal blood glucose is around 100.
“Wow. You are certainly diabetic. Most likely type 2.”, he said raising an eyebrow. “I’ll need to get you on some meds…”
“I can’t fix this with diet and exercise?”, I interrupted.
“No. With these numbers your body needs some help. Take this prescription get it filled and take it immediately. Test your glucose in the morning with this monitor I’m giving you. If it doesn’t go down tomorrow you may need to get to the hospital. It should go down, but call me either way when you test.”
He took some blood for an Ha1c test. It’s a test that yield a sort of 3 month average of blog glucose levels.
I had some questions. He took the time answered them all. Turns out, he is also diabetic. An insulin dependent type 2. He explained his trajectory through diabeties-space. I couldn’t ask for a better doctor/coach for this phase of my life.
“What about alcohol?”, I asked bracing myself for the answer.
“No booze for now. Especially on the medication I’m prescribing now. Later, we’ll see.”
I had expected this. I figured that I’d ask. I know there are diabetics out there that do drink, but I didn’t want to deal with too many variables at once. Shutting down the drinking would be ok for now.
“The best thing you can do right now: take your meds, watch your diet, and loose weight. It can be that simple.”
The next day, I tested. My blood glucose was 200. I called my doc. He was pleased. He told me it should continue to decrease but to call him if it didn’t or if it got too low. No hospital visit for me. My Ha1c number was 14.7%. Not a great number. A non-diabetic person will have an Ha1c number between 4% and 6%.
That’s how it began. I made some big life modifications that day. I bought some tools, started my exercise program, my diet, and started tracking my numbers. I also set a big goal. I wanted off the diabetes medication. I was going to turn my body and the disease around.