Back again…

by Bernard Brandt

It seems that I’ve been away too long from this silly weblog. The reason why is that I have been rather ill of late. You know, things like uncontrolled diabetes, neuropathy involving numbness of the soles of the feet, a pain like someone has driven a ten penny nail into the sole of my right heel, blurred vision, and an inability to think clearly or for long. Oh, and staying in bed the entire day, too numbed with grief over the loss of my wife, Beth, to do much of anything except drink. Little stuff like that.

The most I’ve been able to do of late is to make small comments on FB, which don’t seem to express what I really mean to say. Double plus un-friended.

I think I hit bottom when I managed to find two containers of test strips for my blood sugar monitor. Fasting blood sugars of 250, when the norm is 90-110. Yeah, I can see how this would go, and rather quickly: chronic high blood sugars interfere with new capillary formation, causing particular damage to things like kidneys, nerves, retinas, and brain tissue. Kidney malfunction leads to high blood pressure, which in turn leads to increased pressures on malformed capillaries, which in turn leads to a cascade of blindness, kidney failure, stroke, tissue necrosis, gangrene, and whole bunches of other fun stuff.

Well, as Andy Dufresne said, ‘Get busy living, or get busy dying.’ I decided to try the former of the two options.

Of course, mismanaged care is right out. First, find the ID number of L.A. Care. Next, call up and wait an hour before a nurse answers. Then, schedule an appointment three weeks from now. Then drive to a really shitty area in Long Beach ten miles away. Then wait three hours before being seen. Then be told that you need to do blood work, and that will take three more weeks to schedule. Then schedule another appointment (three more weeks) to hear the results of the blood work. Be told that you have diabetes (which you already knew), and be prescribed drugs which you already know will only treat symptoms, and will only postpone the inevitable cascade of morbidity and mortality. Rinse and repeat.

So instead, two weeks ago I cut out the morning pastry I was eating from the local convenience store. Ditto foods with sugars, starches, and simple carbohydrates. Cut out processed foods. Fasting also helps. So does eating low on the food chain. Vegetables, (some) fruit, grains, legumes, and nuts. Balance vegetable proteins (beans and grains, milk, wheat and peanuts, things like that). Bite the bullet, and finally cut out the beer and wine.

And so, in the last two weeks, fasting blood sugars have dropped as of this morning to 106.

I’ve slimmed down and lost much of the gut I once had. Now the process shifts to maintaining the diet, increasing exercise, and getting down a bit nearer to my ideal weight. Of course, that damned stabbing pain in my right heel interferes with my preferred method of exercise, which is walking. But Naproxen Sodium (aka Aleve) interferes with the pain. And there is a recumbent exercise bicycle in the house. We’ll see what we can do. Perhaps with continued low blood sugars, a healthy diet, and regular exercise, my body might be able to repair the nerve damage in the soles of my feet.

The point, though, is that there are some strong indications that interabdominal fat, and more particularly, excessive fat around and in the liver and pancreas, interferes with insulin production and uptake. Ditto that reduction of such fat promotes said insulin production and uptake. It’s worth a try.

I think that it says somewhere in the Philokalia that a monk should both be willing to die today, but also, to preserve the health of his body for as long as possible. It sounds like a plan, even for a weird little eremite and autodidact like me. We’ll see how it all works out.