Harold is Recovering nicely!
About 3 weeks ago I got a call from Harold, a friend of the family. I wish he had called sooner. Anyway, he had been plagued with persistent thirst, a constant need to urinate, including overnight, and not feeling so good. He has had trouble walking any distance for some time. So he went to the wrong place, a convenient care clinic. His blood sugar was 600 +.
Blood sugar crisis!
600 + blood sugar is a crisis, probably on the edge of ketoacidosis. If he had gone to the ER, they would have done something quickly to get his blood sugar down. The clinic gave him a prescription for a miniscule amount of insulin (long acting) but he couldn’t get it filled until a couple days later. At that point he had left the state for his job, leaving his personal doctor far behind.
By the way, his a1c at his last test was 14.1, which says his average blood sugar was 355. Wow!
Harold is a diabetic
Harold knew he was diabetic but beyond taking the metformin his personal doctor prescribed he hadn’t changed anything about his diet. Over the last several years he has reached 300+ pounds.
First steps in what to do
Harold’s parents are both uncontrolled diabetics, obese and on insulin. Because he knew that insulin was just going to make him gain more weight, he was very reluctant to use it. Given his circumstance, I suggested to take all the pressure off his pancreas (the maker of insulin) by eating only vegetables (non starchy) and meat. Harold was a starch kind of a guy and the vegetable thing was a major concession. He has followed that pattern for the last three weeks.
He bought a continuous glucose monitor and attached it to his arm. Consequently he is able to record and see his blood sugar 24 hours per day. For over two weeks he shared his numbers with me daily so I could answer any questions he had. He only dropped the ball once early in his period, eating six fried onion rings at a restaurant. How bad could six onion rings be, he thought? He had a major blood sugar spike. I told him it wasn’t the onion; it was the breading on the onion.
Second steps in what to do
In the second week he shifted to two meals per day, lunch and dinner. That leaves a full 16 hours per day when there is no insulin demand from food.
Anyway, unbeknownst to me, he decided to quit using the insulin at the end of week one. Over these three weeks I have watched his blood sugar continue to drop into the normal range. It has taken longer to get his fasting blood sugar down. Fasting blood sugar is the last measure to “go” in the development of diabetes and the last to recover.
As his numbers steadily dropped, he did have occasions when he felt “funny”. When your body is used to high blood sugar, anything lower feels like low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). It’s not low, it just feels like it. Harold is committed, however, and he stuck to the plan. He no longer has these occasions.
Harold and I talked yesterday. He is no longer sending me his numbers, doesn’t see any reason to “bore” me with the same song, second verse. He sent me a graph showing his blood sugar by week for three weeks. His progress in only three weeks is just amazing and his pancreas is making enough insulin. He has lost 4 pounds in the last week. He feels great and sleeps all night, no longer “craving” the food he shouldn’t eat. He gave me permission to tell you his story using a fictitious name.
Could you expect this to happen for you?
It depends on a lot. Everyone’s situation is different. Harold’s commitment to change is extraordinary. He just said he would do it and he did. Perhaps the fact that he had two children in college and a non-working wife factored into that commitment.
His blood sugar crisis arrived, it appears, before he had done as much metabolic damage as diabetics often do. He wasn’t addicted to sugar/starch; he had just been careless. That helped a lot He is still making enough insulin to allow diet alone to restore normal blood sugar. What is your commitment, are you addicted to sugar/starch, how long have you been diabetic, how much insulin are you still making/?
All that said, you can likely accomplish this for yourself. It just might take a bit longer.
Let us all celebrate Harold’s recovery. Commitment is a wonderful thing for your health.
Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All About the Food,” a book that guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. Pat is a resident of Montgomery County, AR, president of Ouachita Village, Inc. board of directors (Montgomery County Food Pantry), and president of the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Her email address is email@example.com; phone number is 870-490-1836; visit her website at allaboutthefood.org