Six Months: M1:W1:D2

Two days in and I’m already flummoxed.

I took my blood sugar this morning and it’s up 20 freaking points from yesterday. It measured 182, which is about 80 points higher than my lowest measurement, which was last year just after I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was in bad shape then, having not exercised in just about ever, eating fast food for weeks on end while I set up my new house and generally not giving two shits about my health.

I went to the doctor for chest pains. Angina, it was. The exercise-induced kind. Blood work was done. My triglycerides were literally off the charts, elevated blood sugar, the works. I was a mess. Doctor prescribed me a mess of drugs. I think it was five drugs. She said they were all quite minimal doses, but it was still a handful each morning.

I changed my diet. Or, rather, I went back to the vegan diet I had been eating. Only this time, I actually ate vegetables, rather than every packaged, non-meat substitute I had been eating. I learned how to cook a few meals that are real tasty, easy to make and good for me. I started exercising, riding my bicycle specifically, every day.

In a couple of months, I brought all that shit down into normal ranges, except my blood sugar, which I could never get down below 109, which is pre-diabetes range. Mind you, that was a huge difference from the 200-some it was.

I also went to a cardiologist. He said I had a heart blockage and wanted to schedule a stent for the next week. Dude spent, like, three minutes with me before he wanted to get into my insides. It didn’t feel right. Plus, that’s some expensive shit right there. I also didn’t like his attitude. Too perfunctory. I put the brakes on. It seemed to me I needed some time to let the new diet and exercise routine work some magic.

Turns out it did.

You know how all the scientists and doctors and public service announcements you’ve heard all your life about how diet and exercise can vastly improve your health? Yeah, they’re right. I cut out sugar from my life, rode my bike daily and ate mainly vegetables and grains that I cooked myself. And I did it every day. I felt far better. Sleep was better and I felt more rested in the morning. I had more energy and generally felt gruntled most of the time. Weird, right? Who knew? Everyone, dumb ass. Everyone.

But it is hard to keep up. It takes effort to make meals and to plan for them. It takes gumption to get on your bike every day, even when you don’t feel like it. And one day giving in to that feeling makes it easier to not feel like it again the next day. Then, maybe there’s some bad news, or, say, a giant bill you didn’t expect that knocks you on your ass and the next thing you know you’ve gained 10 pounds, watched every new show on television and your blood sugar is at 182 again.

That’s where I am.

Two days ago, I started walking around my considerably large neighborhood. I’ve put in four miles, two a day. It’s a baby step. It’s how I started a year ago, because my heart hurt so much after about a half mile, some days considerably less than that.

I’m pleasantly surprised to find that my heart doesn’t hurt during these sessions. I’m aware of it after about a half mile, but it’s not debilitating. I don’t have to stop. I can work through it. This is better than it was before. My heavy exercise over the summer, I think, has strengthened my heart somewhat.

Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, there is a phenomena called warm-up angina, where people with cardiovascular disease experience narrowing of their arteries during the initial phase of exercise, causing chest pain. But after a period of rest, symptoms subside. This is what I experience. And I had noticed this summer, the point at which I begin to experience chest pain was further and further into my bike ride as I continued to exercise each day. At first, I could not make it out of my neighborhood without first stopping to rest, less than a mile. By August, I stopped after four miles, for a shorter period and some days I never stopped during my daily 12 miles.

My point is, there’s no reason to run right to surgery all the time. Cardiologists have a hammer and every heart they see is a nail. It also buys them a nice condo in Aruba. There are other ways to go about getting healthy. While angina is definitely your body telling you something, it may not be telling you to get surgery. It may just be telling you to get off your ass.

So, anyway, I’m flummoxed about my high blood sugar reading this morning. But I did have a large glass of sugary cranberry juice last night. I think that may have at least contributed. I’ll need to replenish my supply of Stevia, the plant-based sweetener that does not increase blood sugar, and buy unsweetened cranberry juice and see how that goes.

I’m going out for a walk now. Thanks for coming by.

This is part of a series of posts, some better than others, tracking my efforts to better my health and financial situation, an effort dominating the next six months of my life. It started here.

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