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Entry Number Ten: Low Carb High Hopes
Our bodies are designed to do certain things at certain times. Every now and then, these things don't happen when they should, leading to problems. See where I'm going with this? Really? Are you sure? Because you don't see at all. So let me shed some light. This morning I sneezed. This caused my teeth to clamp together. Now usually, my tongue has the sense to think 'ooh, I shouldn't be in the way when that happens!'. Not this morning dear readers. It was not as painful as treading bare foot on a plug. But it still doesn't come recommended. Current tongue status almost three hours after the event; slightly painful in an irritating way. Not unlike a mouth ulcer. So now you know! On with the story.
I had embarked upon the low carbohydrate journey that I am still on today. At this point I had one goal; Get those blood sugars under control. My doctor at the diabetic clinic had arranged for me to see the dietician, and I was also booked in with the diabetic specialist nurse, both in March. To begin with, I was ready to go to war. I figured that there was no way they were going to support me, especially considering the poor advice I had received from healthcare professionals thus far. However, I started thinking in the lead up to my appointment. I was going against the done thing here. No one in their right minds would support something without evidence. And when you are inclined to be skeptical of something, the last thing that will change your mind is someone coming in brandishing a metaphorical axe. (Ironically, brandishing a real axe may help much more to make people agree with you, but there's bound to be a downside to that plan somewhere. Possibly involving a trip to prison). So I calmed down a bit. I compiled evidence by writing down my blood sugars, and I planned what I would say.
The appointment with the dietician came. She was very honest in her assessment of my situation. She told me that she had misgivings about a low carbohydrate diet, referring to difficulty in getting enough nutrients. However, and this was the important part, she said she wanted to work with me on this. She admitted she did not know enough about the specifics to bless or shoot it down. I recommended Dr Bernstein's book, and she said she would get a copy of it, have a read, and then see me again in a couple of months. Meanwhile, she discussed what I might find myself deficient in, and we discussed measures to combat this. The solution was to eat a lot of green leafy vegetables, as well as other low carb delights (bell peppers and the like). Thankfully, I love a good salad, so this was no problem. Broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, these were all very much on the menu.
At the end of March 2014, I saw my diabetic specialist at the clinic. Her message was clear; we needed more data to assess things. A lot of her job is seeing poorly controlled diabetes, leading to fear that most of us get night time hypos. Therefore, she asked if I would be willing to have a continuous glucose monitor attached to me for a week. I would wear it constantly, and would need to keep a comprehensive diary of all the food, insulin and exercise I did. I would also need to test my blood sugars as normal, and note down the results. This was because the monitor would not give me any information while it was attached to me. The data would be downloaded once I had returned the device at the hospital. Also, noting down my own test results meant that results could be verified. I agreed that this was an excellent idea. I had the device attached, and off I went. I decided that as good as I had been, I would be a paragon of diabetic virtue here. I needed to prove that things were working, and that this was a sure fire way to solve diabetic problems.
Things were far more difficult than I first thought. To start with, as soon as i had been to see the specialist, my insulin requirements changed. I had got into bad habits over the years. Chief among these were failing to rotate my injection sites. I tended to go for the same area of my stomach because it was easy to access. I started changing to other areas and boom! Insulin absorbed much more effectively, blood sugars shooting down. Even so, I didn't do badly. I completed the week as a low carb cyborg, and returned the sensor. I had an appointment a month later, while the specialist disseminated the data. It turned out that I was between 4 and 7.8 for over 90% of the time that the sensor was attached. And every hypo I had, had a clear an easy explanation of why it had happened. I was thrilled. Finally, I felt like I was back in the driver's seat.
My control continued to improve month by month. I was still getting highs and lows, but they were less frequent. However, there was one fly in the ointment. While my blood sugars were much better, my ldl cholesterol was creeping up. In october 2014, my HBA1C was 34, but my Ldl had more than doubled. When I started on low carb, it was 1.5. Now it was 3.4. My weight had also increased from 11 and a half stone, up to 12 and a half stone. To be honest, I don't think that low carb was to blame for all of this. I realised that it was the way I was approaching it.
About the time that I started low carbing, business started to pick up for me. I got more piano students, and the choirs I accompanied started expanding their repertoire. I also got the chance to play the piano for a couple of musicals. Also, the low carb side effects sapped me of energy to begin with. I didn't have time to go on 40 mile bike rides any more. i started needing to spend upwards of two hours a day at the piano, to make sure I was up to scratch. My exercise was put on hold for a few months while I got into more of a routine. I was also getting through a lot of cream cheese. I learned to make a low carb cheese cake using philadelphia, double cream and stevia. It's important to realise that you can have too much of anything. So when October came round, I knew I had a new challenge on my hands. There was no point having fantastic blood sugars if my health was going to suffer in other ways. I felt better than I had in years and years, so I reckoned I was up to the challenge.
Next time, find out how the journey lead up to where I am today! Discover my latest adventures, both in my journey with diabetes, and in other parts of my life!
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