As Tom DeGroh has pointed out in recent weeks, maintaining your health is a key component in being a Good Husband. In that department, I must admit, I have been lacking.
For the better part of my adult life, my diet has consisted of rice, bread, pasta and cheese. If it (or a majority of its ingredients) didn’t come from a can or a box, I likely didn’t eat it. Vegetables didn’t exist in my diet unless they were cooked as part of a casserole, and only then if I couldn’t see/taste/identify them. I was not the pillar of health.
Despite my ignoramus level stupid eating habits, my blood pressure, cholesterol, etc were fine. It seemed that aside from being about 100 pounds overweight, I was healthy (and as big as) a horse. That all changed 3 weeks ago.
I went to the doctor to get an infected boo boo addressed, and since it had been a few years, he ordered a full blood workup. Again, all of my numbers were picture perfect…except one. My fasting blood sugar was almost 300. The normal range, according to the online test results screen, is 60 to 90. Um…uh oh? My doctor ordered a retest and told me not to panic. He did not tell my wife not to panic, which she did very quickly and instituted some involuntary changes in my life.
The second test came back better…by 20 points. The results are in…I have Type II Diabetes.
Now, I have gone from eating whatever the hell I want, to mostly eating things that grow along with measured amounts of things that used to breathe. Gone are the boxes and cans. Gone are the casserole dishes that I could finish in a single sitting. Gone is my very nice drive through lady at Taco Bell that cheerfully served me my pair of breakfast burritos every morning. My whole world changed. Two little blood tests brought me from my seemingly invincible self, to feeling like a tragedy waiting to happen. I will tell you , there is nothing worse than coming to the realization you will die at some point, and if you don’t make some drastic changes in your life, that some point could be very soon.
I started having tragic dreams about what would happen to my wife and kids if I wasn’t around to support them. Where would they live? What would they do? I realized it may be time to look at life insurance again. Last time I looked, it seemed expensive and I wasn’t dying, I’m only in my 20’s (well, 30’s now…). It all changes when you get bad medical news.
Fast Forward a week after I get the diagnosis from my doctor. I’m not sleeping, I stopped eating everything I enjoy, I’m working out nearly every day, and I’ve lost 7 lbs. Then the hardest part comes…2 parties in 2 days.
I was pretty embarrassed about my diagnosis, after all, I’m Ken…nothing *bad* ever happens to me! So, while I’m trying to hide the fact I am recently diagnosed, but skipping the pasta and cake at a birthday party, I had confused and concerned some folks. Constantly turning down the foods everyone knows I enjoy was emotionally draining and was very hard on me. 2 weeks ago, I could have eaten that whole party. Now I wonder if the 3 crackers I had before lunch are going to put me in a diabetic coma.
I met with my doctor on Tuesday morning, 9 days after he informed me via e-mail of my new diagnosis. He prescribed a handful of pills, multiple times a day, told me to get some vitamins because some of my new medications deplete vitamins in my body and cause other side effects. I was in shock, all of this new information swirled around my head, I was confused and didn’t know what questions to ask. It was awful. My doctor then told me to take a Diabetes Basics class that will teach me about Diabetes, how to eat, what to eat and how to make sure I stay in the optimum blood glucose (sugar) range.
If you get diagnosed with a lifelong disease, I highly recommend you take a class or 2 about that disease BEFORE you freak yourself out. It turns out Diabetes is very controllable via diet and exercise, and medication is a good helper before you get things managed. I learned I don’t have to *stop* eating carbs, in fact for the short term I NEED a certain amount of carbs or my medications will cause LOW blood sugar, which is exactly NOT better (more on that later). I do need to lose weight, about another 40 or 50 lbs is a good start, but ultimately I needed to lose about 100 lbs to be where I should be.
Through that class, and some post class research I’ve learned a lot, like:
- Control your carbs. Carb intake is more critical to monitor than sugar intake. Carbs turn into sugar, so something with no sugar listed but 100g of carbs is still bad. Keep your carb intake to 30g – 90g (closer to 30g is better) per meal. Again, you need SOME carbs, just not ALL the carbs.
- Ignore advertising. Low sugar, no added sugar, etc are all bogus marketing terms to help guide you into a product. Check the carbs.
- Instant oatmeal is not good. Powdery products (cereal, instant oatmeal, etc) process in your body quickly and will cause sugar to spike, then drop just as quickly.
Avoid Low Blood Sugar…It’s BAD!
Pay attention to the minimum intake requirements, especially if you are medicated. I went out to lunch with my daughter, we had burrito bowls at Chipotle, and trying to be a “good boy” I didn’t eat my rice, just beans, meat and cheese. BAD IDEA! 30 minutes later I experienced my first “Low Blood Sugar” event, and I will say I have never in my life felt so bad so quickly. We drove home, I got out of my truck and almost fell down. I was light-headed, woozy, nauseous, weak, I didn’t know if I wanted to pass out, throw up or both. I waited for my head to stop spinning and was able to walk in the house and test my sugar. It wasn’t low from a normal person perspective, but my body (which was used to sugars in the several hundreds) didn’t like it at 70. I ate a banana and some Wheat Thins. 30 minutes later I was feeling much better.
I realized then why they recommended getting a medic alert bracelet in class. If we had gone to Target instead of going home, it is not unlikely I could have passed out in the store. Morgan doesn’t know what is wrong with me, and if they called the paramedics, nobody could tell them I have diabetes. Would they have tested my sugars right away? … Needless to say, I went down a tragic path and decided right then I needed a medic alert SOMETHING.
I hate jewelry. I take my watch off 100 times a day. The band bugs me, gets in the way when I type, digs into my wrist, etc. Necklaces are no better they pull my chest hair, get stuck on stuff and I feel like I am going to strangle with them on. Again, time to be a big boy and figure something out. I went online and found people with lifelong medical concerns have gotten tattoos with their pertinent info. Most of the tattoos I saw were for things like Penicillin or peanut allergies, but the whole tattoo idea seemed like a good solution. So Morgan and I went down to a tattoo parlor down the street from my house, and I had them design me the tattoo earlier in this article. $100.00 and 45 minutes later, I feel safer.
- 30 minutes a day. Any is better than none.
- It doesn’t have to be intense, just walk around the block to get started, anything to get your muscles moving.
- Focus on the positives. There are days I don’t lose any weight. There are days I lose 3 pounds. I know much of it is water weight, or when I went potty last. Don’t let those numbers scare you.
- You can change your taste buds. 3 weeks ago I could name all 3 vegetables I was willing to eat. Cucumbers, Broccoli (steamed very soft), and zuccinni (and only the way my wife makes it). I now eat a whole vegi stand worth of vegetables every day, and I even almost kinda like some of them.
- Find support. As I strive to be a Good Husband, my wife is a Fantastic Wife. There are some very emotional times when you learn your whole life is going to be different, and having someone that you can lean on is absolutely critical.
I’m not embarressed by my diagnosis anymore. I am now embracing the changes I’ve made to both my diet and exercise regimine. I have new goals, like running a Spartan Race, not finishing that Chicken Broccoli Cheese Casserole in a single sitting. My quality of life has improved immensly, and more importantly, my family has embraced these changes with me. We go for walks in the evenings, which is great for my daughter and I. We get alone time, with no screens in front of us (either of us), so we get to talk, and catch up on our lives. Three weeks ago I was an absolute mess. Today I am stronger, healthier, and on a path that will lead to a much happier life, relationship, and family than I could have expected when this all started.
About the Author: Ken Jamaca is a twice married father of two. "When I can't sleep, I think of fun, interesting things to add to the inter-webs." Mr. Jamaca noted "But my best ideas come to me in the shower...or in traffic. I'm not sure why that is." As the founder and chief editor for GoodHusbanding, he takes his role very seriously. "I've been both sides of the coin, and everyone is happier when men are good husbands!"