by Scott Nyquist, MA, Business Systems and Operations Manager
A little over three years ago now, I was all fired up. I was going to start a new exercise and diet program. I had been reading the latest self-help diet book, and this one sounded like the one for me.
I had read a number of these books over the years. Some were interesting. Some I knew wouldn’t work, right from chapter one. This one resonated with me. I decided that for once in my life, I would go to my doctor to be “checked out” before starting a diet or exercise program as all of the books state so clearly, but so few of us ever do. I was excited to find out what my baseline labs and weight were, and I was ready to do what I could to take control of my health.
I made an appointment with my physician. I went in with the book I had been reading and the information I had found on the Internet about this eating plan. My doctor ordered a full battery of tests and gave me the go-ahead, pending my lab results. I was excited and ready to get going. I went to the grocery store to stock my refrigerator and cupboards with healthy foods, replacing what had been stashed in the cupboards.
The next day, I got a phone call from my physician’s office to please call ASAP! Over the next couple of hours of playing phone tag with the office, my mind started to go wild with what could be the problem. My family history included cancer, heart disease, etc. As a single father, I started to worry that I was heading down a path of illness and declining health. I envisioned my children having to care for their father and worried that I might not see them grow up. When I finally got ahold of the doctor, he wanted me to come in to see him as soon as possible to go over my test results. I made an appointment for the very next day, still anxious about the possibilities.
My doctor started out our visit with the news. My lab tests were all out of whack, and most alarming to him was my glucose level. My fasting glucose level from the day before was 715. This surprised both of us because my glucose levels were never even considered “pre-diabetic,” let alone diabetic. He was convinced that if I could get my blood sugar down, my other labs would also come down. My A1C test, which measures your average blood glucose level over the last two to three months, was not too high. He felt this meant that my condition was near or at onset. That meant I could do something about this, and I was determined to do so.
I left the clinic bound and determined to not get sick. I wasn’t going to lose my eyesight or let myself lose my toes or feet to poor circulation. I made an appointment with a diabetic educator, and I learned how to test my blood glucose and to keep a journal of what I ate and what my blood sugars were.
When I got home after all of the appointments, I started to think about my future. I could let this disease take control of my life, or I could take control of my condition. I call my type 2 diabetes a condition because I decided to see this health crisis as an opportunity to make a change, to take control. It was an opportunity to learn to eat better. It was an opportunity to learn more about exercise. It was an opportunity to learn to take care of myself. Far too often, we take care of everyone but ourselves. I realized that I needed to do this for me. That very day, I changed what I ate and how I ate. I started exercising every day.
The next month when I went back to my doctor, I had dropped about 15 pounds. I had my blood glucose journal and my personal journal, where I had written a lot of questions to ask my doctor. We started the visit with labs, of course. I was very anxious to find out if the changes I made to my diet and exercise regime had made a difference, and it had. My blood sugar level was down to 135. My A1C was down to 6.2, and my other labs were back in “normal” ranges. I had taken this potential crisis and made it into a learning opportunity ― an opportunity to take control, to take charge of my own health!
My physician has labeled my diabetes as “Well Controlled.” Once you have diabetes, you always have diabetes, but the measure for diabetes is a blood test A1C. My A1C levels have been in the “Normal” range for over two years. I could still lose another 20 pounds or so, but I’m eating healthier, exercising regularly, and learning more and more about my life and health. I am in control of my health, and I encourage everyone to do the same!