Battling diabetes with diet, fitness, medication and prayer
A time travel novel by Rob Buck
I was always thirsty
Back in the summer of 2002 I was thirsty all the time. Blaming it on an unusually hot and humid South Carolina summer, I kept gulping cup after cup of ice water with no relief. When I mentioned my thirst to a diabetic friend, he offered to take my blood sugar, He pricked my finger and five seconds later a number in the 500s appeared on the meter. Knowing nothing about the details of diabetes, I looked over at my friend to see if the reading was normal. Trying to remain composed, he assured me that it was not normal at all! Looking back on the incident, I'm glad I didn't fully understand the significance of an over 500 blood sugar reading or I might have gone into shock. We agreed for me to come back the next morning and check it again before breakfast.
The next morning, it was in the high 200s. I went from there to urgent care and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
I went to Kroger, bought an OneTouch Ultra blood sugar tester, filled a prescription for Glucatrol XL and was propelled into the world of diabetes.
I remember trying to swallow the fact that I have an incurable disease. Did I eat too much sugar? Could I have prevented it? I was 46 years old and was a bit over weight, weighing 207 pounds and standing six feet tall. I didn't watch what I ate and I wasn't very active, but diabetes! My paternal grandfather and my father both developed diabetes later in life, but not in their 40s!
Understanding the disease
My lifestyle had to change. I attended a seminar at a local medical center to learn how to eat, how to stay active and how to keep an eye out for diabetic symptoms. I had a battle on my hands.
Type 2 diabetes is also referred to as insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates the amount of blood sugar in the blood stream. With type 2 diabetes, I have two issues. My pancreas does not produce enough insulin and my cells have become resistant to the insulin’s messages to receive the sugar from the blood stream, thus elevating my blood sugar.
Type 1 diabetes is different in that the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin at all. With type 1 a person has to receive insulin. With type 2 blood sugar levels can be normalized with diet, exercise and medication.
Some people can lose weight and begin to experience normal blood sugar levels again. Of course, this was my goal.
Diabetes is such a complicated disease and it can affect the body in so many ways. Prolonged elevated blood sugar levels can begin to effect nerve endings and lead to blindness and amputation of limps. It can lead to heart disease and kidney disease.
Needless to say, diabetes can not be ignored. It has to be considered multiple times everyday for the rest of my life.
And forget about getting health insurance unless you can get through a group policy. Diabetes is like a four letter word. Having a small company, I had an individual policy that I’ve had to hang onto for dear life through multiple rates changes. Between my wife and I and our two kids who are still in college, we will be paying almost $3000 a month for health insurance in 2010. (8^0
Where I Stand Now
It's been seven years now since I found out that I have type 2 diabetes. I've lost over 25 pounds, participated in 5 triathlons, 3 bike rides over 60 miles and 7 half marathons. Yet, my daily battle rages on. I have closely watched my diet and continue to exercise on a regular basis. I am currently on actos, metphormin and Glucatol XL. My A1C was 7.7 last time it was checked, but I have determined to do the things necessary to bring this number down and reduce the medicine I am taking.
A little about the medication I'm on. I just started taking Actos because of my high A1C. It's supposed to help my cells receive the insulin to regulate the sugar in my blood. Metphormin keeps my liver from producing sugar. Glucatrol XL forces my pancreas to produce more insulin and it's the drug I would love to get of off first.
What I have decided to do is to document the details of my battle. I'm doing this for the accountablity and for the encouragement. My prayers is that others with type 2 diabetes will read my accounts and know that they are not alone. And perhaps they can leave comments and we can spur each other along.
Day to Day
Last updated 10/31/2010
I found an at home A1C kit at Walmart and tried it a couple of days ago. It scared me; said my A1C was 8.1. I made an appointment to get some lab work done.
Turns out my A1C had risen a bit from 6.9 to 7.3. We adjusting my medication.
Now I'm to take Januvia and Metphormin.
Last updated 10/20/2010
It's been awhile since I've updated. Other diabetics, please continue to pray for me and if you let me know who you are, I will promise to pray for you as well. This is a confusing disease, but I am convinced that our father has our hands as we yield to Him in this battle day to day.
Here are the summary numbers and high level facts since my last entry:
March 2010 - Average Fasting Blood Sugar level - 118.90
Medications - Metphormin - 2 500 ml, morning and evening, 1 Januvia, 1 GLxl (both morning)
April 2010 - Average Fasting Blood Sugar level - 125.5
April 30th A1C - 6.9
May 2010 - Average Fasting Blood Sugar level - 115.06
June 2010 - Average Fasting Blood Sugar level - 124.3
July 2010 - Average Fasting Blood Sugar level - 131.03
August 2010 Average Fasting Blood Sugar level - 129.67
Stopped taking GLXL on September 5th. Doesn't seem to matter.
September 2010 Average Fasting Blood Sugar level - 125.83
So far in October - 127.67
Last updated 2/28/2020
Latest Fasting Blood sugar levels:
Average Fasting Blood Sugar numbers for February were 115.25
The holidays were good in many ways, but not as far as my eating. I did splurge some. The good thing is that my BS did not get as bad as I thought and the thrill of the "forbidden" sugar items was not near as great as my mind had it. I know I can go at least a year without that kind of cheating on my diet again.
This Januvia really seems to be helping. After reading that drugs like Glucatrol XL almost always lose there effectiveness after a few years, I've decided to replace that drug with exercise.
My fasting blood sugar readings for the week of Sunday January 3rd, 2010 have been:
131, 119, 105, 125, 164, 109, 137. I'll report again at the end of January.
Weekly report - Sunday December 20th, 2009
Weekly average 122.57. Got back my A1C and it was 7.4. Still not great.
Weekly report - Sunday December 13th, 2009
Januvia! I started it on Friday instead of Glucatrol XL. Already I can tell the numbers are better.
This past week's average morning blood sugar levels - 118
Weekly report - Sunday December 6th, 2009
Even though my morning numbers were about the same as last week, my numbers during the week were better. I'm more at peace about letting God direct my path with this disease.
Lord, as I head into this new week, please guide me moment by moment.
Weekly report - Sunday November 29, 2009
Not a great week. Average morning blood sugar was 134.28. It needs to be lower. Goal for next week is under 130. I was very frustrated on Thanksgiving evening. I tried to be eat well, but my blood sugar soared. I exercised consistently and consistently took my medicine. I also eat wisely.
Lord, as I venture into this week, help me to be dependent on you. Give me the wisdom to make wise choices, but remind me that I must yield to you in this battle and not try to fight it in my own strength. Thank You for your strength.
Weekly report - Sunday November 22, 2009
I've decided now to give more of a weekly status. My blood sugar numbers are not great, but they are within a reasonable range. This week, I am going to concentrate on eating complex carbs, eating more meals, but smaller portions, at least strolling after meals and not eating as late. My great desire would be to get off of the Glucatrol XL. From everything I've heard, it seems to just beat my pancreas to death. I venture out this week hopeful and dependent on the Lord for his strength, wisdom and healing.
Saturday November 21, 2009
Morning BSR was 115. I had oat meal for breakfast and sardines and crackers for lunch. I did an 8 mile run and had some energy beans along the way. Good thing because my BSR was 60 afterwards. Had a protein drink, some melba toast with cheese and some with peanut butter and a Greek Yogurt.
Friday November 20, 2009
Morning BSR was 138, not great. I had greek yogurt for breakfast and chicken divan for lunch. I was teaching on a tight schedule and didn't walk much. In the afternoon my BSR was 115.
Friday nights are date night with my wife and I. We met at the Villa and I had a salad and a small pizza. No exercise to speak of. Took my GL XL pill at night.
Thursday November 19, 2009
This morning things were better. BSR - 110 I really think stress had a to do with it. Once my readings got high, I started worrying and the vicious cycle began. I tried to do a lot more resting in the Lord and a lot less striving. I had some Greek Yogurt for breakfast. 2 hours later, my BSR was 130 and I had a protein bar. For lunch, I a Crunchy chicken salad from Arbys. Then I swam 1500 yards and my BSR had dropped to 58. (8^o I had two mini cheese burgers from Wendy's, minus all but one bun and a piece of toast. For supper, I had chicken divan and green beans along with another piece of toast.
Wednesday November 18, 2009
This morning my BSR was still high - 151. I had some Greek yogurt and a protein bar for breakfast. I walked 10 minutes before lunch and had some chili. Two hours after I ate it was 160. I ran 5 miles after work and before I did, I ate a granola bar. Afterwards it was 67. (8^0 What a wild ride. I had a salad, some shrimp and low carb "pudding" I made up with cocoa, splenda and cool whip. I think I'm going to bed.
Tuesday November 17,2009
I got a lot of great encouragement yesterday from others. Sometimes this disease can zap my joy and yesterday was one of those days. As difficult as this journey has been, there are so many ways it has been a blessing.
Morning BSR was better - 134. For breakfast, my wife fixed my eggs with cheese and some toast. I had a bowl of chili for lunch and walked. 1.08 miles. BSR - 140.
I decided to take my GL XL at a different time. Since it's supposed to last 24 hours, I'm trying it at 5 or 6 pm instead of the morning. We'll see what happens.
For supper, I had two bowls of chicken and barley soup and half of a sweet potato.
I did 10 miles on our recumbent bike. I had a couple of grapes and 5 wheat saltines with peanut butter for a snack.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Well, I almost did not write this morning. I almost deleted this whole blog. I got very discouraged when I took my blood sugar reading (BSR) before my Monday morning prayer walk with Jim and Andy. It was - 190.
I couldn't believe it! But I am not giving up.
Lord, please help me. Help me do the things today to get my blood sugar back down. I cry out to you in the midst of my struggle. I don't really know if this blog is being read, but if it is, I pray others will not feel alone in their battle. I pray for anyone now that is reading this blog. Please be with them and give them wisdom and comfort. If me having this disease, will help others find your comfort, I thank you for that.
For breakfast, I had 4 poached eggs and for lunch I had some chili.
Before I ran, I had a turkey dog and 5 wheat crackers with peanut butter.
I ran 6 miles with my next door neighbor Jim and my BSR was 125 afterwards.
For supper, we had a salad and greek yogurt.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
If I'm going to cut out the nighttime GL XL, I'm going to have to exercise at night! BSR - 152. This battle can get so discouraging!
I had a bowl of Special K cereal for breakfast, but did not have a chance to walk between church and a meeting. At the meeting, everyone else was having chips, sub sandwiches and heavy deserts. I had no bread, no chips and fruit for desert, I scrapped out the insides of the sandwiches and ate with a knife and fork. I also had a salad and ONE small pumpkin cookies.
You can tell, I'm a bit frustrated. I did not exercise before supper, but I thought I made wise food choices: I had chili, no grilled cheese even though everyone else had one. For a snack I had some nuts and cheese, nothing else. And I walked 24 minutes before bedtime.
Saturday November 14, 2009
Morning BSR - 132. This is still not good. I had oatmeal for breakfast and am getting ready to cycle.
I did a 17 mile bike ride and checked my BSR - 125.
As I said before, unless otherwise noted, my medication will stay constant at 1 Acos (45 ml), 1 Glucatrol XL (5 ml) and 1 Metphormin (500 ml) in the morning and 2 Metphormin (500 ml) at night. This seems like a lot, but it is less than I was taking and I am praying that I can further reduce it.
For lunch, I had a low carb chicken wrap and some taco chips. I raked the yard for about 30 minutes.
For supper a 1/2 grilled cheese and some chili. Later, I had some nuts, a glass of wine and a greek yogurt.
Friday November 13, 2009
My lack of exercise got to me. I let the rain and chill keep me by the fire when I should have been out there at least walking. BSR - 158 Ouch!
I did just realize that I am going to be able to run in the Kiawah Island 1/2 marathon next month. Betsy had registered my with my first and last name refeversed, so I thought I wasn't registered. I had been registered for the full, but with some knee problems, I am not ready.
I'll take my normal dose of medicine and get out there and run some time today. The most I ran in preparation for the full was 13 miles, but that was at a very slow pace. I'll try and run 8 at a nice clip today and see what happened. Then 9 next week, 10 on the 27th and 12 the week before.
I walked 1.16 miles and for lunch, I had chicken soup or as my wife calls it chicken bog, since it is packed with so much chicken it's more like a stew.
I had a protein bar and then ran 5.1 miles (BRS - 102 afterwards). For supper I had a hot dog and a bag of fritos given as customer appreciation at Kroger and more chicken bog.
I had nuts, melba toast and red wine while I watched basketball and wrote.
Thursday November 12, 2009
Morning BSR - 128 Had a bowl of Special K for breakfast. For lunch 2 bowls of collards and a grill Cheese on wheat bread. Unless otherwise noted morning medications will continue to be 1 Metphormin, 1 Actos and 1 Glucatrol XL 5mg.
For supper we had pinto beans and chicken soup. No exercise today.
Wednesday November 11, 2009 Memorial Day
Before anything else, I would like to thank all the members of the military, past and present who lay down their lives for our freedoms. Thank you Jack, Bob and Bryan.
As it turned out, I did not exercise again last night, but by God's grace, my BSR was 118. That's not bad. I had some greek yogurt and a protein bar for breakfast. 1 Ac 1 Met 1 GL XL
I was able to walk 10 minutes before having a low carb meal of grilled chicken and spinach.
After lunch, I walked for 10 minutes and had a BSR of 127 2 hours later. I had a granola bar and a bag of fritos for a snack because I thought I was going to run 5 miles. However, since it was raining and a bit cold, I whimped out. This was bad because I had eaten the extra snacks thinking I was going to exercise.
I went to my mother's for supper and had two breaded chicken fillets, spinach and pinto beans. 2 Met
Tuesday November 10, 2009
Bad morning - BSR 149. Should not have had two corn breads, should have walked after my snack. It's discouraging, but I will do better. Sometimes I get fooled into thinking I can eat some normal things, especially when others are enjoying them around me. I'll take an atkins breakfast bar(12 net carbs) and a slice of cantaloupe for breakfast. I'm running a bit late. (1Ac, 1GL XL and 1 Met)
I was able to walk 10 minutes before lunch - low carb meal (10 net carbs). Then I walked 15 minutes after lunch. I was excited that my BSR was 98 this afternoon. I had an apple and a 15 net carb bag of fritos.
I should not have, but I grabbed a two piece snack at BoJangles (breast, wing and a biscuit) Fried Chicken is my weakness. My justification is that I ate it on the way to the gym to work out. I did a little strength training and then swam 1500 yards. Afterwards my BSR was 151. This is actually within the acceptable range (160 or below) for a diabetic 2 hours after a meal. Because I did all the exercise I was able to have the chicken. For me, being able to eat like every one else every now a then is a treat that keeps me going, even if I have to swim for 37 minutes to do it. (8^>
Later, I had some collards, a handful of dry roasted peanuts and a glass of red wine.
It's raining and 50 degrees outside. However, if I am going to keep from taking my night time GL XL, I must exercise before I go to bed.
Monday November 09, 2009
BSR - 123. Not bad, but I would prefer it a tad lower. Went on a 15 minute prayer walkwith Andy and Jm. We do it every Monday morning. Bowl of Special K for breakfast.
Today I'm teaching a class at Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC (BCBSSC). Being able to exercise after meals will be tougher, but it can be done. I'll have to walk during breaks.
1 Ac, 1 GL XL and 1 Met. Again, this is down from normal. I usually take 2 Met. Also, I am continuing to skip the night time GL XL. Please keep me focused and desperate for you, Lord!
Being at work all day and having a meeting right after work made exercise today a challenge. I walked 10 minutesduring a break before lunch. I went out to eat with a friend to Arby's and I got what I always get, a salad with chicken and ranch dressing. The only thing I vary is whether to get the crunchy (much more fun) or grilled chicken. I guess it depends on how wild I feel. Today I took a trip on the wild side. I had a crunchy chicken salad and a diet coke.
Later, I was able to walk about 15 more minutes and I had an afternoon BSR of 134. (Not too bad for an after lunch reading)
I drove to Newberry, SC after work and met my long time friend, Lee, at Fran and Bill's. I had chopped steak, salad with blue cheese dressing, pinto beans and corn bread. Lee and I then took a one mile prayer walk.
I finished out the day with the best collards I've ever had from my friend Ches and some greek yogurt. 2 Met.
Sunday November 8th, 2009
Yeah! My blood sugar is at 110 even though I did not take the Glucatrol XL pill last night. Enjoying a cup of coffee, a toasty fire and a book called the Spirit Life by Andrew Murray.
For breakfast it's a bowl of Special K cerealwith Stevia instead of Slenda. Steviahas less carbs, but it's going to take some getting used to. I definitely had more than the suggested serving size of 3/4, but this is the best dry cereal I've found. 14 carbs per serving with 5 grams of fiber, which brings the count down to 9 per serving, making it a great low glycemic load (impact on blood sugar) food.
Took my Glucatrol XL (from now own I'll abbreviate to GL XL), Actos (Ac) and this time only one Metphormin (Met). I'm on a roll and am willing to do some extra exercise to compensate. Documenting my journey is good for me, even if no one else reads it.
35 minutes of yard work and a blood sugar reading of 120. For lunch, some corn taco chips and two hot dogs on a low carb soft taco(5 net carbs). Had an atkins Chocolate Caramel Mousse Bar which advertises to be 2 net carbs, but this is subtracting sugar alcohol. According to my research, I shouldn't subtract these. So, in essence the bar is 14 net carbs.
30 more minutes of yard work, a four mile jog with my next door neighbor Jim and a short prayer walk. Blood sugar reading (BSR) - 110.
Betsy's back and we had a grilled cheese on wheat(I shouldn't but they are a weak spot. We'll see what it cost me tomorrow morning) and taco soup. I had some nuts and a greek yogurt for a night time snack. I just got back from a mile walk. It was a bit chili, but the stars are beautiful. I'm hoping my walk replace my GL XL pill. We will see.
Saturday November 7th, 2009
Beautiful brisk fall morning in Columbia, SC. I'm discouraged that my morning blood sugar is 136. It's 8:30 and I'm the only one in the house. Our kids have all moved away and my wife, Betsy, is at a church lady's retreat. The morning is quiet. I flip on the gas logs and open my Bible to 2nd Corinthians. I'm inspired in chapter 3 that I am to be like a mirror to reflect God's glory to those around me.
I have only an egg for breakfast because I'm meeting my cousin, mom and brother for an early 11:30 lunch at Cracker Barrel. I take my Actos and two Metphormin pills, but then can not find my second box of Glucatrol XL pills. I know this is trouble because I'm supposed to take two 5ml pills a day, but with one box missing I'll be short unless I find it. I'm going to try and make it with only one a day. Writing about it will help me.
For lunch: two rainbow trout fillets, pinto beans, green beans, fried okra and corn bread. I walk for 20 minutes and take my blood sugar after two hours:166.
A couple of hours later I cut the grass and take my blood sugar again, it's 110. I have some peanuts and do more yard work.
For supper, I have three pieces of melba toast, pot roast and greek yogurt. I also enjoy a glass of red wine and some nuts as I write and watch a recap of the Yankee's World Series wins on the MLB network. Before bed, I take two Metphormin, but no Glucatrol XL. I walked 20 minutes instead. We'll see what happens tomorrow.
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