Is there something in your family’s medical history that scares you? For me, that was Type 2 diabetes.
My mother, her two sisters, and their father had all had Type 2. I believe it is what killed my sister as well. So the family history made it a very real, very dire, diagnosis for me.
Back when my grandfather and my Aunt Edith were diagnosed. the only treatment was to watch your diet and take insulin before each meal. There was no way to check your blood sugar before or after eating, or even check it at home. We went in to the doctor once every four to six weeks to have blood work drawn. As my grandfather wasn’t what you could call compliant by any stretch of the imagination, it was always a stressful day.
He couldn’t get his mind around the fact that just because something was a healthy food generally, that it wasn’t necessarily a healthy food for him to eat whenever he wanted. He loved apples and oranges and would sneak them into his room. And when his blood sugar results came in, he would have a fit. Somehow it was someone else’s fault.
I grew up watching my mother give her father insulin shots three times a day, fussing at him abut his diet, and eating meals on a strict schedule to accommodate for his illness. Breakfast was at seven, lunch at noon, and dinner at five. This never varied.
My Aunt Edith, was extremely strict about her diet. Not only did she know what she could eat, she carried measuring cups and spoons with her to measure everything that went on her plate. When we sat down for breakfast, she and my mother went over the meal plan for the day so she could figure out her bread substitutes for each meal. And she took three daily injections as well.
Aunt Betty was able to control her diabetes with diet alone. She was the sister with a completely different metabolism from her sisters. Mom and Aunt Edith could gain weight just thinking about chocolate cake. Aunt Betty could eat the whole thing a lose a pound or two. She had never had the diet struggle her sisters had, so the transition wasn’t as difficult.
My mother was fine with diet at first, but after the first year or so, had to go on an oral medication, which was later involved in a class action suit. She died from complications to her diabetes, partly due to the medication. I am now older than she was at her death.
Even in my mother’s time, there was no way to do home blood sugar tests, so you were more or less left to flounder around on your own and hope everything was fine when you went to the lab.
When I was a child I had major ear infections and was in the clinic once a month it seemed, so I had grown tired of injections at an early age. The idea of having to take three injections each and every day for the rest of my life was worse than a death sentence. It got to the point where I couldn’t even watch anyone getting an injection. I still can’t.
As a breast cancer survivor, you might think diabetes would be a walk in the park by comparison, but not for me. Cancer was something you could eliminate with surgery and drugs. Diabetes, as far as I knew, was forever. Once diagnosed, it would be a lifelong enemy. I knew there had been advancement in medication, but it still scared me spitless.
Our daughter is a nurse, and she recommended the doctor I went to see. She assured me he knew what he was talking about. But when he initially insisted I should take a once a week insulin shot, I was dismayed, though he insisted diabetes could be reversed.
The diet I’ve been following was a bit of a challenge at the beginning. Eating nothing but unprocessed foods can be tricky. Eating unprocessed foods, with no oil or salt added is trickier. Eating most of it raw or lightly steamed is hard to get used to.
And it seems there is sugar in everything on the shelf. I had some cans of beans in the pantry–kidney beans, black beans, and garbanzos. Though he’d told me to avoid canned foods, I didn’t want to waste them. Some of the black beans and the garbanzos were all right, as far as sugar.
But kidney beans? I have yet to find a brand of kidney beans which does not contain sugar. After the beans in my pantry were gone, I hadn’t planned on buying more anyway. But I was curious. Some of the other beans have sugar, but not usually every brand. Kidney beans, though, are always sweetened.
And stewed tomatoes. You can buy just about any other sort of canned tomato and be fine. But if they’re stewed, they have sugar in them.
Seasoning blends usually have sugar in them. Some of the Mrs. Dash seasonings I’ve found without sugar, but I’m not particularly fond of them. So I’ve become more skilled at making my own seasonings–without salt or sugar involved.
Salad dressings and most sauces have sugar, not to mention salt. And I really can’t deal with the artificial sweeteners or fat free things. It’s much easier to flavor some vinegar ahead of time for salads.
But after eight months of working with this new diet plan, I’ve found a way to have variety in my meals, have plenty to eat without feeling too full, and not feel overly restricted. Eating out can be a challenge, but there are several places around where I can browse the salad bar or order a large salad. One of the Chinese restaurants will steam me a large platter of mixed vegetables.
There are still times when I miss being able to eat whatever I want whenever I want it. But as my system won’t accept some foods yet, that makes it easier. I’m beginning to be able to add more beans and grains to my diet, a little at a time, which helps. But I found the family BBQ upsetting, even though I had skewers of grilled veggies–which were marvelous.
I have another appointment with my doctor coming up later this month. I’ll let you know how that goes. In the meantime, stay happy, stay healthy, and live life to the full.
Are you interested in the story of my breast cancer?
Cancer and the Warrior’s Way is available at Amazon!
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