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Ten years ago, an astute physician diagnosed me with Type 2 diabetes. I exhibited none of the classic symptoms of rapid weight loss, extreme thirst, and frequent urination. I attributed fatigue to my job. For about a year before diagnosis, I experienced what I thought were yeast infections and treated them with over-the-counter medications. I later learned that this condition is a symptom of diabetes. I am non-insulin dependent.
According to the American Diabetes Association statistics in the 2007 National Diabetes Fact Sheet (most recent available), there are 23.6 million persons diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S.; 57 million with pre-diabetes; and another 5.7 million undiagnosed. The study was done three years ago. The numbers are increasing at an alarming rate.
Uncontrolled diabetes can have devastating effects such as blindness, heart and kidney disease, nerve damage, kidney failure, and leg amputation. I am motivated to keep myself well.
When I was growing up, my parents had a general store. Candy, chips, soft drinks, ice cream, and bologna were readily available. My family ate meat-and-potatoes. The only exercise we got was working long hours. Recently, I learned from Bruce Lipton's Biology of Belief (a scientific read) that "your DNA is not your destiny." That theme helped me to realize that I am not inherently doomed by my family's disease(s).
Over the years, I ate what I knew. Working full time, keeping a household, raising two children, and moving frequently with the military left little time for researching and planning meals.
An epiphany came fifteen years ago when I met the lady who is my best friend. She was a vegetarian (now a vegan). She educated herself in nutrition when problems developed with her then seven-year-old son. Jethro Kloss's Back to Eden became her Bible.
I was experiencing cramping in my stomach and not sleeping well when we met. She suggested it might be due to my diet; it was filled with red meat. After I began sticking to the "no red meat," the cramping stopped, and I began to sleep well. I tried lamb once because it was "lighter." It rewarded me with the former symptoms. I have not eaten red meat for fourteen years.
In January 2010, my A/1C spiked to 8.0. Cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides and blood pressure were in the normal range "thanks" to prescription medications, along with their side effects such as intermittent dry coughing from the blood pressure medication; elevated liver enzymes and severe leg cramps from the statin. Diligent attention to diet brought the AlC down.
The next step of the journey, for seven months, brought a whirlwind of traumatic events, medical procedures, tests and bills that continue to arrive in my mailbox despite payments of thousands of dollars made by Medicare and a secondary insurance. My own savings account is decimated.
Since 2007, I have kept Excel spreadsheets on meds, supplements, and medical procedures for tax purposes, but also to have records for results of testing and to know when the next doctors' appointments are due. The following list (in no particular order) lead to the decision to try a path other than allopathy-homeopathy.
The first symptom of ill health was unbearable itching over the entire body. The bruises on my back from scratching to get relief brought me to an appointment with my primary care physician. The itching was found to be caused by highly elevated liver enzymes. There followed:
Blood draws (8)
Liver enzyme panels (3) 40 is normal; mine rose to 200+
Emergency room (3)
Medical histories (4)
Endoscopic procedures (2); one to remove gallstones; one to remove a pancreatic second stent
Falls (2), one requiring four stitches
Virus infections (3) for a week each
Treatment by different doctors (9); total includes dentist, ophthalmologist, radiologist, and gynecologist
Hospital stay overnight (2)
Refusal of additional testing (2)
Elevated liver enzymes returned three months after the endoscopies. I am grateful for the past seven months; otherwise, I would have continued on the same non-productive journey.
According to Dr. Bryan Radend, N.D.'s website, naturopathic doctors complete eight years of medical training which includes a year of clinical internship, board exams, and licensure to start a practice. These doctors treat the whole person and causes of disease with natural supplements, not symptoms of diseases with drugs, as in allopathy. They understand the importance of maintaining an alkaline pH (parts Hydrogen) balance in the body to prevent acidosis. One of the advanced symptoms of excess acidity is diabetes. A helpful chart listing pH of foods is on the website www.trans4mind. General categories for alkaline are plant-based fruits and vegetables; acidic foods are meat, dairy, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and artificial sweeteners.
Two weeks after dramatically changing my diet, coupled with naturopathic treatment, the following changes are evident:
Increased energy brings an ability to be in perpetual motion throughout the day
Dark circles under the eyes are disappearing
Pain in the left hip, buttock area, neck and shoulder is diminishing
Elevated mood is present-being happy, smiling, laughing and singing
Weight is being lost and clothes are getting looser
Intense itching caused by elevated liver enzymes has stopped. (A month ago, my primary physician took me off the statin.)
Sleep patterns are improving, and I am waking refreshed.
Numbness in the feet, caused by neuropathy, is decreasing
My N.D. recommends Dr. Dooley and Dr. Bernstein's (comprehensive study of diabetes) books.
Although the N.D. has made numerous recommendations (including thirteen nutritional supplements), decisions are always my choice.
Make the healthcare team a trio-you, the primary care physician, and the naturopathic physician
Read labels for ingredients. While shopping, I purchased a "multi-grain, no artificial flavors or colors" cereal emblazoned on the box front. I scanned the
nutritional facts of 100% daily value in a long list of vitamins. After I got home, I read the small print at the bottom of the listing. The third ingredient is sugar, followed by corn syrup, brown sugar and a plethora of unpronounceable chemicals. Advertisers desire to make money, not look after the health of consumers.
Avoid artificial sweeteners, sugar-free, fat-free, diet products. They kill your liver.
Drink, in ounces, distilled or spring (not purified) water equal to one-half of your weight. Hydration also lessens the pain of needle-stick blood draws.
Shop at a local farmers' market and health food stores for fresh fruits and vegetables
Prepare foods in advance to avoid impulse eating
Buy a diabetic, vegetarian or vegan cookbook for varied recipes
Find support from a knowledgeable friend and/or health food store employee who can recommend products like the best-tasting almond milk or healthy grain breads like spelt, for example
Research the Internet. Be aware that all information found may not be accurate. If a company is selling a product, the information may be biased. Kathy Schrock's site, e.g., gives five questions to consider when evaluating a website.
Rest as your body heals itself
Exercise 5-6x a week for 30 minutes. Walking, yoga and stairs are ideal. My blood glucose went down 70 points after a brisk walk.
Maintain a normal weight. Two years ago, I lost seventeen pounds in three months by eliminating the "whites"-pasta, bread, rice, white flour, and sugar-while watching starches and carbohydrates. No diet pills.
I learned, on my own, that a high carb diet not only raises glucose level, but also prevents weight loss. The appendix of Dr. Sears's book lists the glycemic index of individual food carbs, which are inducers of insulin. Lower percentages are best.
Keep records. An Excel spreadsheet provides a record of medical expenses for tax deductions. Categories might be Date; Check #, Visa or Debit; Provider; Mileage; Notes; and Cost. "Meds" (prescriptions and supplements) and "Medical Procedure" Word docs provide quick medical references
Explore resources that propose the power of the body to heal itself.
Information included in this article has been gathered over the years from reading, doctors (allopathic and naturopathic), personal experience, and from researching the Internet.
Good health is a journey of personal empowerment, making informed decisions and choices.
Bernstein, Richard, M.D. Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution. Rev. Ed. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., c2003.
Dooley, Timothy R., N.D., M.D. Homeopathy: Beyond Flat Earth Science. San Diego, CA: Timing Publications, c2002.
Kloss, Jethro. Back to Eden. Rev. Ed. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press, c1999.
Lipton, Bruce, Ph.D. Biology of Belief. London: Hay House, Inc., c2008
Sears, Barry, Ph.D. The Zone: A Dietary Road Map. New York: HarperCollins, Publishers, Inc., c1995.
Categories: A1c Test, Blood Glucose, Blood Sugar, Diabetes, Diabetes, Exercise, Food, Gastroparesis (Digestion Problems), Health, Health Care, Health Insurance, Herbs, Insulin, Living with Diabetes, Personal Stories, Success Stories, Type 2 Issues
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.