Do you know Wil?

Cover art for "The Born Again Diabetic" bookYou may know him as Wil, or William, or Liam, or Lee, or Printcrafter, or Rio’s pop, or Debbie’s dude, or the Non-Doctor-Doctor, or the impressively smart high school drop-out.

He is all of that, but I know him best as my friend.  I know him as a very entertaining writer, who chronicled the very early days of CGM devices on his blog “LifeAfterDx“.

Wil recently wrote a book.  It was a book that I initially bought just because I knew Wil – you know, supporting a friend, taking a bit of pride in “knowing the author”?  That kind of thing.  I didn’t expect to get a whole lot from it, mostly because I’ve been around the block a time or two with this diabetes thing.

That sounds pretty self-absorbed, but that is not how I mean it.  If diabetes has taught me anything over the years, it would be 1) roll with the punches, 2) I am never in complete control of anything, and 3) The more I know, the more I know I don’t know.

Maybe it is more accurate to say that I thought the book would be “dumbed down” to appeal to a larger target audience.  I’m not sure how to express my expectations exactly, but my expectations were exceeded by page 7.  And they were exceeded by a lot.

I was very quickly enveloped by Wil’s writing, almost exactly how I was captured by his blog posts.  Wil has a special talent for carrying the reader through the pages, much like inner-tubing down a lazy river (just float on the tube and let the river carry you along).  It was a fantastic ride that had me laughing out loud, “hmmm”‘ing to myself as a point he made sunk in, and being unable to put the book down until it was so late at night that my eyelids refused to open after blinking.

It is a short’ish book, at just a bit over 220 pages (if you read every single drop of ink), and a very quick read (I received the book in Friday’s mail, was done with it by Sunday afternoon).

Wil put extra effort in not only the content and quality of the content, but also the physical book itself.  Hardcover, high quality binding, top of the line paper.  All of the little things that make a book even more enjoyable, beyond the words inside.

You should buy the book, because I am very confident that you will enjoy it AND learn stuff that will help you in your daily battles with diabetes (type 1, type 2, and other).

But if you’re not sure whether you’ll like it, you can get a feel for Wil’s writing style over at his blog (LifeAfterDx).  It’s almost like taking a vehicle for a test drive.  Besides, anyone who quotes SpongeBob Squarepants (p. 180) in his book is worth the asking price.

If you like what you see, go buy the book (or search Amazon for “born again diabetic”).  The price ($19.95) is a steal for the quality of the book.  And yes, the title was blessed by our very own Born Again Diabetic, G-Money (for the record George says “Go Wil!”).

Wil – I love the book, and wish you incredible success with it.  You have my standing order for any future books you write, no questions asked.  It could be a book about techniques for dusting ceiling fans, and I’d be all over it.  Yes, you are that good.  🙂

Fighting the Facts

There is a simple fact facing me.

This fact is, I believe, the root cause of many of the things I struggle with around my diabetes control.

I am fighting this fact tooth and nail. Even though I can clearly see this fact, I have, so far, not been able to change my behavior.

And my mind is really fighting hard to come up with some other answer, some other reason that is easier to deal with.

But it can’t find anything that fits the puzzle so clearly.

So it turns up the volume on the depression. Because when I am depressed, it is harder to buck up and do the work.

Depression makes you want to stay stuck in the present – it makes you WANT to feel helpless against whatever may be bothering you.

What I am wrestling with is the fact that I eat way too many carbs.

BernsteinBookReading some of Dr. Bernstein’s materials, which makes perfect logical sense, but seems very extreme (in the degree to which carbs are limited), scares the crap out of me.

So I reject it – saying things like “it’s too extreme!!” and “who can live like that?!” But the man is living proof that his theories work wonders!

Then moving on to my latest series of books – which to my dismay, ventures into the lower carb lifestyle (although much more balanced) too! I found myself very disappointed! Why does everything that makes logical sense to me have to tell me to lower my carb intake?!

To see my favorite things, my staple meal items, to be blacklisted – forbidden , is hard for me to reconcile. And for the staple items in these “solutions” to be things that are so utterly gross and yucky to me – things I would never even consider eating, or for that matter even heard of before!

How does one with such incomplete nutritional information (me) come up with reasonable alternatives for all of this stuff?

My average daily carb intake tends to fall around 300 or 400 grams per day, unless I have a nighttime low when I can quickly add another 200 grams (in a heartbeat). Yes, I know – scary isn’t it?

Is it any wonder why my A1C’s aren’t where they need to be?

I am addicted to carbs.

It’s how I’ve always eaten, and don’t know any different. I like the way I eat – except that I know it wreaks havoc on my body – which I cannot continue to endorse.

My parents tried their best to straighten me out when I was younger – but I didn’t budge.

I have hope though – as I learn more about how to balance my meals and food choices, I know that I will be more satisfied with less food – that’s one of the things balance does for you.

But it feels like such a big change – to work towards that goal. Partly because I’m terrible at taking things slow, and try to change it all overnight. Going from total carbohydratoholic to moderately low carbs all at once. No gradual change here.

My knowledge level of foods that comply with my wishes also seems so inadequate. I’ve never learned about such things – and to be my age feeling that almost complete lack of knowledge is very intimidating to me.

I feel completely stupefied when trying to find things I like when I’m out and about. Or even at the frickin’ grocery store!! What am I even looking for?

Some of the recent posts from folks like Sarah and Beth help tremendously – giving me some concrete things to shop for and try. Brand names and things to ask for if I can’t find them.

My mental side is not giving up easily though – throwing up tricks and traps at every turn.

It’s very hard to (near impossible) to fight some of these physiological signals with willpower alone. The signals that our brains send coursing through every fiber, demanding that high carb rush to stimulate the endorphins and other “feel good” chemicals, they are almost unstoppable!

What can I use to combat such complex self destruction mechanism? What do I have that can possibly outmatch and outwit the minds drive for carby satisfaction?

Willpower is a good start – but it’s not strong enough or consistent enough. Willpower is susceptible to sabotage. Willpower, while it can be so strong at times, is can also be manipulated like a kid being tempted with candy. Why else do you think they put on those crazy costumes on Halloween?

I also get frustrated when I make choices that better align with my wishes, and can’t get my blood sugar figured out. When I have a low carb meal, but run super high hours later from all of the protein and fat – it’s frustrating! To run so high after making what I thought were good decisions. It pisses me off, and makes me want to just forget it!

But I try to take a step back, and tell myself that it is a new thing – and new things take us time, experimentation, trial and error, and a good deal of perseverance to work through and figure out.

Some days though, the carbs win out, and I’ll be programming a bolus for 180 grams of carbs in a single meal. I can’t even believe I just typed that.

I’m working up the courage to do a series on Full Disclosure – where I document every minute of every day for a week or so, what I eat, what I drink, what I test and bolus, what I’m thinking, how I slept, any other thing that may influence things. And open that up to all of you – drawing on the vast collective knowledge and experience that the OC has.

I’m just not ready for that yet – as it scares the shit out of me. I am open and honest in my posts, but you really have no idea just how “out of whack” my dietary habits and resulting wild blood sugar swings really are.

It will take a lot for me to come clean and spill it all – but I almost feel that it’s necessary. I will ask for compassion and gentle constructive solutions – and I’m not at all worried about that part of it.

The part I am worried about is being honest with myself, which is easier said than done.

Bloodsugars and Moods

PsychingOutDiabetesI recently finished reading “Psyching Out Diabetes” by Dr. Richard Rubin, June Biermann & Barbara Toohey (June & Barbara have TONS of books out there on diabetes – you probably know them, even if you don’t realize it yet). The book was a quick and easy read, and I would encourage you to check it out if the title rings any interest for you. Take a peek at the “Look Inside” feature that Amazon has, and you can get an idea of some things the book touches on.

Like any book, there are things you take out of it, and things that you don’t really feel apply. I thought this book did a really good job balancing that, and I felt the “signal to noise” ratio was excellent.

One of the many things I started to notice after crossing a certain point in the book was my mood and whether or not any particular cranky or pissy spell might be related to a high or low blood sugar.

I usually have trouble identifying when I’m a bit cranky. I bet many of us do. Something rubs us the wrong way, and before we know it we’re snapping at those close to us, or pulling back to “just be alone”. Maybe without even realizing what we’re doing.

Me? I’m a snapper. I usually hold it together pretty good, except when it comes to my wife & kids. Maybe that’s natural – to be a little less guarded around those you feel most comfortable with?

The book talked about many of these types of events in relation to low blood sugars – giving some examples of completely irrational explosions, only to find the person was experiencing a low blood sugar (maybe therefore not having the normal cognitive abilities).

Those make sense, the lows, at least as much as they can I guess. But I’m also starting to wonder if I don’t also have trouble on the other end of things – when my blood sugar is high?

My poor and ever so patient family (I am so thankful for you).

I’ve asked my wife if we can come up with some ways for her to express that she feels I’m cranky, so I can (theoretically) test my blood sugar, and see if there is some relation there.

This situation is maybe more delicate than the average person may appreciate. Have you ever been pissed off, and your significant other asks you why you’re pissed off, and it just makes you more pissed off? Or maybe they just start jabbing back at you, and the spiral of emotions escalates until you are both ready to bite each others head off!

After all that you still don’t know why you were acting all pissy in the first place. And to top it off you’ve gone and pissed off those around you. No good for anyone.

So to come up with some way for my wife to communicate the fact that she believes I am acting cranky, without me getting even more cranky, is what we’re after here.

I’m skeptical, because I know how I get when I’m cranky. But she’s optimistic. She said “yes, you might get pissed of, but I’ll get over it and so will you” (isn’t she great!?). I also think the fact that I’m starting to recognize that my moods are very much impacted by my blood sugars will help things too.

If I can recognize that my blood sugar is high, and I’m cranky, I can then ratchet up my awareness and work to calm myself down. It’s no guarantee, but I think it’s better than just being cranky and making life miserable for my wife & kids.

This ties into so many things. When I posted Friday about having trouble after basketball – spilling ketones & running high sugars for much of that afternoon – I got home and was just wiped out. I wanted to crawl into a hole and not do or think about anything. I realized that I had an appointment with my therapist the next day, and I said to myself “you know, I don’t want to work on anything”. Those therapist appointments (and the aftermath of uncovering something) are mentally exhausting.

After having such a tough day, of course I was not looking forward to a mentally trying therapist appointment. But then it hit me – that I was in that “mental place” because of the day I had, and that after some rest, hydration and time with in-range numbers, I would feel better and probably be all revved up for the appointment.

I shared those thoughts with my wife, and we felt good about realizing why I was feeling that way. It didn’t make me magically feel better, but understanding why my head was where it was helped tremendously. I didn’t try to “fix” it – just recognize the why.

The next day, my therapist and I had a great appointment (in which I also shared my revelation! She said “duh!”).

The human body is such a fascinating work of checks and balances, and there is more than just the physical side of things that get thrown out of whack when we are outside of the “normal operating range”.

At the very least, it’s something to think about – that’s for sure.