Thursday, August 15, 2013

it’s been a strange, rough six months

In February, I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was told I was pre-diabetic in spring 2012, but didn’t pay attention to it. Big mistake.

The doctor prescribed metformin, I went to Diabetes Class at Norwalk Hospital—I guess one needs to learn how to be a diabetic (Stanley went too—so he could learn what’s what and know enough for me not to be able to bullshit him) and embarked on a Mediterranean-type diet. The Flat Belly Diet. Which I’d been on quite successfully in 2008 until my Mother died. All bets were off then and the weight crept back up. The goal is to lose enough weight, and control the blood sugar well enough, to get me off metformin (I hate taking meddies). And also get my hypertension under control so I could go off hydrochlorithiazide and losartan (I have no idea of those are spelled correctly).

The trip to the doctor was initially to check up on my blood pressure, but I’d also gone through a very heavy period. Which was strange considering I am in menopause. So that concerned the doctor as much as the diabetes and he told me to get to the gynecologist right away. I needed to get the usual preventative tests done, anyway, so I saw her the next week, I think.

Pap smear, mammogram both normal. But the gynecologist wanted an ultrasound done to check on the bleeding, and the ultrasound showed a mass was present. Which led to a D&C and biopsy.

I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in early May. It was weird: I knew I had cancer before it was diagnosed, like in February when I had that heavy period, but it’s hard to hear it confirmed. Worse for Stanley, I think.

By June 12, I was in Bridgeport Hospital getting my uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries removed. Along with some lymph nodes for good measure. By this time, I’d lost 30 pounds, but my blood readings were not settling down into the ranges I wanted them to be in.

But, I had a post-surgical weight gain of 15 pounds! All that work ... it turns out it’s normal to put on a bunch of water weight due to the surgery. I wish they would’ve told me before so I wouldn’t have been so freaked out about it. I managed to get rid of all the extra weight in about three weeks. And the cancer is gone—it hadn’t spread or anything so I didn’t need any further treatment, just a followup every six months for the next few years in case some of the cancer cells escaped and were missed during surgery. I have a lot to say about what I went through, but I’ll save that for future posts.

So that huge worry was lifted off our shoulders.

But the blood sugar levels were still too high, and too uneven, and I started to worry about having to go on insulin sooner or later. I thought I was doing everything right when it came to how I was eating: low fat except for the good fats, kept my calories in way lower than my calories out. Yeah, I lost about five pounds a month, but I was always hungry, had cravings for bread and ice cream and pasta and it was really hard not to eat the entire pint of sea salt caramel gelato all by myself, and my blood sugar readings were all over the map, though not quite as high as they had been in March and April.

Then I watched a TED Talk given by Dr. Peter Attia about obesity and diabetes—it blew me away. Which led me to Gary Taubes’ work on fat and carbohydrates and sugar, then on to other research about diabetes and carbohydrates and how fat doesn’t make you fat ... it all made sense to me: ditch the carbs. (I’ll document the sources later—I’m too sleepy to look everything up now.)

So, on July 2, I switched to a low-carb, high-fat died. No more bread or gluten, no more sugar outside of what I get in fruit. Lost eight pounds in six weeks, which is cool, but even better is my blood sugar seems to be stabilizing at a much lower reading than I ever saw on the low-fat diet. I’m feeling so much better without gluten and all that sugar it’s hard for me to believe it’s not just the placebo effect—how long does that last? I’m in a much better mood. I get more work done and can concentrate longer on the detailed, rote stuff that is the part of designing and building websites I don’t like.

So far, it seems to be working well for me. I had blood labs done earlier this week and will get the results on Monday—I hope my A1C is lower but I recognize that I had the stress of major surgery and recovery during the last three months so I’ll be glad if it hasn’t gone up. I think my doctor ordered a whole range of tests from blood sugar to thyroid to the usual—unless something is seriously out of whack I plan to continue my low-carb ways. Mainly because I feel so damned much better. And my blood pressure is way down, too.

Stanley is very tolerant.

I learned how to make bread out of peanut butter and eggs—that’s what I’ll write about next. Needed it so I could make a grilled cheese sandwich now and then—lettuce just won’t work for that ...

posted by lee on 08/15/13 at 05:12 PM

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