Disappearing diabetes.

It all started when I was 10 and my family moved to Sherman Oaks. I immediately discovered the 7-11 around the corner and found out just how much candy my pockets would hold. I was known as the “candy store” at school. Sugar sugar sugar.

Then I found out about the big ol’ square sweet rolls that they sold at the snack bar at school. Mmm mmm. Sugar sugar sugar.

During my college years, my friend Neal and I would get stoned together and he would watch and laugh as I powered through cookies by the box. Sugar sugar sugar.

[Sugar– uh uh uhhh uhhh uhhh— You are my candy girl…]

And so it goes… (10 points if you know where that comes from). And so it goes…

Some time in my late 30’s or early 40’s, I made some sort of decision that it really didn’t matter anyway, and I found myself weighing 235 lbs. Maybe more. It snuck up on me- I still thought I was 180-190. I blinked and I missed it. When I discovered that I had gotten so huge, it was enough of a shock that I started cleaning up my act, and I’ve been dropping off pounds since then. I’m down to 185 now. It took some years, but a combination of integrity in my diet combined with ever increasing exercise is yielding slow and steady results.

Please note: All of the articles and books that I link to below to are intended to be starting points for you to investigate further if you are interested. I don’t endorse these references in particular, although they seem to me to be comprehensive and well-researched.

I did not go on “a diet”. There are a million diets. Here’s an article about the best 35. Which is the right one? How long do I have to stick to it?

I want to be clear about this. That’s not what I did. I did not pick the best “diet” to go on to accomplish the goal of losing x-number of pounds. I began to create a lifestyle that works. There is a huge difference. “A diet” that you “go on” is a repair job. Or at best, a means to an end. We stop the diet when the belly is gone. Or almost gone. Or when we feel like it. A lifestyle is a way of being, a set of habits and practices, including the combination of foods that I intentionally seek out for their positive impact on my heath and well-being- my “diet”. It becomes a lens through which I see the world. So, I rarely eat anything that’s processed, contains unnatural ingredients (or genes), and/or comes from abused animals.

Except for the aforementioned drug (sugar) addiction that I created for myself, my diet (lifestyle) was pretty good. Good enough to drop 55 lbs. Even with the sugar.

[‘Cause you know that sugar is one of the most addictive drugs that there is. A quote from an acquaintance- in response to the idea that I cured an abscessed tooth merely by stopping all sugar intake for a period of time. (And some other, very minor adjustments to my diet and herbs.) “I could never do that!” he said. Not even to avoid a root canal and possible loss of the tooth or recurrence of the excruciating pain? “Never.”]

I did that. I had a broken tooth (rear molar) that went bad. It hurt so much that I couldn’t even talk normally because my teeth would touch and send waves of incredible pain through my jaw. The dentist wanted to do a root canal and prescribed antibiotics. Instead, I went on “a diet”, not eating any sugar, not even fruit and high carb vegetables, just for a month or so, to cure the abscess. It worked. I now have a broken molar that is completely pain-free and with no infection.

Problem is, it was a diet- and when the problem was solved, I reverted to indulging my addiction.

You gotta understand (I’m sure you do!)… Every donut shop had pretty girls in bikinis beckoning to me (“Come hither and eat a donut with us!”) The spread of cookies and cakes that my friends would put out a party was always for me, “just this one last time”.

So, there I was with an essentially pure diet. And at the same time, I’m mainlining sugar.

Some time over the years, I began to lose feeling in my feet. Maybe about 10- 15 years ago. It’s been gradual- it kind of snuck up on me. But that’s ok, cause it doesn’t get in my way. I can walk and hike and all that. So I’ll just ignore it, I said. It will go away like everything else has.

Fast forward (or maybe it’s sideways- depends on where you’re standing, I suppose.) until July 2015.  I started noticing my #2 toe in my right foot had, almost overnight, swelled up a lot. And gotten quite red. This too shall pass, of course.

But then, my whole foot and ankle swelled up. OK, maybe something’s going on that I should take care of.

Ah- but I hadn’t been able to afford even the meagre payments that I owed to Heath Net (Covered California was subsidizing almost all of my insurance). I called CoveredCa and told them of my plight- that my income had taken a significant hit, and could I qualify for MediCal? Yup! They converted me right over and I went the next day to an Emergency Room. It wasn’t very good there- kind of skanky and inefficient. But they did do the normal testing and got me started in the process of getting myself back to good health.

My blood pressure was way high. Something around 180 / 120.

They told me I was most likely diabetic (surprise?). I’d need lab tests to determine this. And my toe was severely infected. It had grown a callous, under which the infection started. You need to see a “real” doctor, they said. (Not just the rotating doctor for the E.R.)

I found my way to Olive View in Sylmar. I went into their E.R. on a Friday and they did all of the tests. Great place. Everything was clean, professional, informative, friendly and competent. Yes, I have diabetes. My blood glucose was well above 200. But my blood pressure was very close to normal and has stayed that way since. approximately 125 /85. False positive.

I went back in the next day into the hospital and stayed through to Monday. While I was there, I had a lot of time to research everything they told me. Good ol’ smart phone and tablet (and wifi). After a while, the doctor would come in and say, “hey- look this up”.

I learned a lot about the art and science of ‘disappearing’ diabetes. With diet and exercise and attitude. I’ve discovered a wealth of resources about the impact of all sorts of foods and herbs that are directly related to a diabetes-free body. It’s mostly a matter of avoiding those things that we all know we should avoid. And then specializing a little- the addition or increase of certain foods and the reduction of otherwise very good foods. Sort of leaning towards a certain set of foods rather than others. For now, it’s butternut squash-yes and yams-no.

Then there’s the exercise. Everyone knows exactly how much exercise would be best for them, or if not, it’s easy to find out.

Fairly simple. There is concurrence across the board- the Internet, direct experience with people I know, and even, reluctantly, some of the doctors at Olive View. So I have no reason to doubt the possibility. Type II diabetes is reversible.

I could conceivably doubt my own ability to pull it off.

But I don’t doubt it. While I was sitting in the hospital, I took on several things. One was that taking care of me and serving me at the hospital would be a complete pleasure for the staff. The second was to begin, as best as I could in the hospital, the process of restoring my health. And thirdly, I took on rebuilding from the inside too. Who am I and what am I up to?

Success on all three fronts. Of course, things 2 and 3 are always on-going and progressive.

Everyone always left my room laughing and smiling at my good cheer, even the nurse who woke me up at 4am every morning to take my blood and poke me with things.

Even with that, I “gave ’em hell” (nicely) for the food they were feeding me. The culture of a hospital is typically one of maintenance. The general operation is just to keep things under control. It was kind of cute- they said that they could go ahead and amputate my toe, just to save me any possible complications. Totally serious. But I didn’t take it seriously and I said that I’d rather keep my toe for now.

Anyway, the food they brought wasn’t high glycemic, but it wasn’t low either. Fortunately I had brought some almonds and fresh veggies with me and was able to hold out for the few meals it took for them to come up with things that were appropriate. By the middle of the second day, they got into the swing of things and I got a much better combination of foods.

And, for thing #3, what occurred to me right off the bat, is that:

What I’m up to in life is way too interesting for me to allow myself to get taken down by this.

No more bullshit. I’ve got people to meet and places to go, you know!

Six weeks later, I’m done with the intravenous antibiotics (yes, I killed off most of my inner bugs. It was a trade-off, and I’ve been piling on the pre- and probiotics, which helps a lot. I think my inner ecosystem has normalized now.).

Oh- yeah. The I.V. antibiotics…. they installed a jack in my arm, called a PICC line. I would plug in a tube attached to an IV bag and sit there while it dripped into me for 1/2 an hour. I don’t know- the idea of an input into my body (other than the standard set) seemed, well, kind of surreal. They wouldn’t install a USB port in me when I asked for it though.

I get to keep the IV pole. It’s PERFECT for hanging my headphones and other wires on in my studio.

EVERYTHING is covered by MediCal. I haven’t had to pay a penny for anything- the supplies, the glucose meter, the prescription, the hospital stuff, follow up appointments. I’ve been looking for loopholes, asking every time I do any transaction regarding this, and nope- no cost. No deductible, no co-pay. Thank You President Obama!!

Six weeks later… My toe is almost entirely healed over. I still have to wear this funky hospital shoe that protects the toes. And it’s still swollen- they said that would be the last thing to go. I can’t exercise much yet, so I’m getting by with the little bits of yoga and tai chi that I remember. But I can shower! And it really is almost healed up.

I got the blood sugar meter and… I’m down to between 125 and 175, depending on when I do the test. Sometimes I’m in the normal range. And don’t tell anyone, but I’m only taking 1/2 the dosage of my Metformin. I feel a little funny when I take it- unsettled like I’m a bit hungry, but I’m not.

By the way, those bikini-clad girls on the roofs of the donut shops seem to have gone. I no longer am tempted by sweets. I haven’t had anything with refined sugar in it since the first day at the E.R., I am only eating foods that come in under a Glycemic Load (not index) of 10, and mostly under 5.

So what’s so all important that I should disrupt my comfortable, somewhat sedentary, two donuts a day, lifestyle?

There are a lot of things that aren’t pertinent to this topic- support of candidates and get-out-the-vote stuff, as well as my own personal projects. However…

Just the fact of accomplishing this particular project- disappearing my own diabetes- can be an inspiration to others. Provided I don’t keep it a secret. I’ll certainly be writing about this, putting myself out as an example. An example of what’s possible, and also an example of what there is to confront in taking on one’s health in a profound and thorough way. This is where we start.

And then it occurred to me…

I saw  a guy there who’s entire legs and feet looked like the infected tip of my toe. He was huge, and being pushed around in a wheel chair. On the way out, I saw him in the hallway drinking a sugared energy drink. I know the staff gave him a hand-out with the proper diet and habits. I’m sure he’s been told many times. But I know how difficult it can be to even want to change things, let alone do it. Some follow-up and support would help people like that. If they want. It would be great if the hospital, or the insurance, provided in-home coaching, like they do physical therapy for disabled people.

A little inspiration would go a long way as well. The knowledge that there is some possibility of getting back to optimum is a lot more inspiring than knowing at best, it won’t get any worse.

What if Olive View would give a course that focused on the healing and prevention of diabetes, not just management … What could I do to have that come true?

To Be Continued…

Here are some books that I found on the topic. References, recipes, charts. Remember that I’m not endorsing these books in particular, but they are great starting points for your own research.

Posted in A World That Works For Everyone, Diabetes, Environment, Food, Health, Pharmaceutical, Power to the People, Recipes, Sugar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mitt Romney and the Republican Party do not want to disclose basic truths for fear that someone will use these facts against them some day. – Slate Magazine

This isn’t really a surprise, is it? How ’bout them tax records?

Here’s from Slate Magazine.

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Money in politics

We’re all concerned about the vast amounts of money being spent to get your vote. It’s getting crazy, especially since the Citizens United court ruling.

But the problem isn’t the money, and it isn’t the advertising that the money buys. The problem is that the advertising works! The advertising works because people aren’t responsible for their own thinking.

A great example is the recent California Initiative for a cigarette tax.

Facts get smoked on cigarette tax initiative

Without debating the merits of the specific initiative, it’s interesting that the advertising against was sponsored by out-of-state tobacco companies. It’s stated so at the beginning of the ads.

Here are some other “red flags” that people seemed to miss:

1) The ad copy complains about the tax, stating it as if it were a tax on everyone, not just on cigarettes.

2) The statement that no money from the tax will go to “Cancer Treatment” obfuscates the fact that it will be going to “Cancer Research”

3) All the “hot” words peppered throughout- “bureaucracy,” “fine print” and the like. We hate bureaucracy and fine print- we don’t want to vote for that…

It’s not only conservatives though- this is what advertising is all about- “Hey! Look Over Here!! (and don’t look over there).” Most people know that they’re not going to get, or be, the hot female model if they buy that car- but they don’t seem to know that they’re being plugged in by certain hot words (fnord) in political discourse. And they don’t seem to know that they’re being sweet-talked, sometimes by entities that couldn’t possibly have their best interests in mind (tobacco companies? oil companies?)

So our job could be to shake people awake- do what we can to help people to think critically about what they’re hearing. And that starts at home, with ourselves.

Question Authority!!

Who Says?

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Social Media Activism, or, Power To The People

Social Media Activism…

I think this is the forgotten essence of the “free market”. Unfortunately, what usually passes for the “free market” is really the “corporate market”. Here we have the “people’s market”. We all contacted these companies and told them that we would shop elsewhere if they continued to advertise with Rush Limbaugh. Key words… $hop elsewhere. Due to the new powers of social media, it’s working, and it’s working fast.

EXCLUSIVE: 140 Companies Drop Advertising From Rush Limbaugh [Update: 142]

I find it interesting that some of the reactionary (regressive, Republican) commentary on the news sites lately has been things like, “Well, I guess I’ll just cancel my order for my new Honda (one of the many companies withholding their advertising). So there!”

As if that were some sort of payback. No- that’s doing the right thing. If you don’t like what Honda does or doesn’t do, don’t buy their product. Of course…. that’s the whole point. There’s no “payback” involved, no “so there”. This is Democracy at it’s finest, and it’s ironic that some of the players don’t see that.

If enough people don’t buy Honda’s because they’re withholding their advertising from Limbaugh’s show, well, then, Honda might need to reconsider…. however, I have a strong feeling that WAY more people were offended by Rush than support him in this.

Some of the other recent victories for Social Media Activism… Susan G. Komen’s dissing and withholding of funds for Planned Parenthood and subsequent retraction, stopping the SOPA. And now, the travesty and tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s murder- it’s gone international in a very short time, and I would be very surprised if there isn’t a reconsideration of those sick Shoot First and Ask Questions Later laws. We’re just not standing for the bullshit any more, and now we have the means to do the right thing.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE is beginning to have real meaning.

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The Neighborhood…

Going for a walk in my neighborhood, as is my wont… One of the things that makes a walk in the neighborhood nice is connecting with the people walking by. A quick smile, “have a nice afternoon”, even a nod and a “hey” or “howsitgoin”.

It all involves eye contact, or at least the attempt (I know, we’re all walking so fast that sometimes aiming for the other pair of eyes can be difficult- but we try).

Or- I try. I’m amazed at how many people pretend they don’t care, pretend they’re busy (busy walking, that is…). The put on the angry face, the sad face, the “I don’t even see you” face.

I live in a very mixed neighborhood. There are BMW’s and old beaten up pickup trucks on blocks. Nice houses with native plant gardens in their front yards, and other houses with the perpetual broken couch on the curb in front. Broken glass and dog shit, and manicured front lawns. I haven’t seen any pattern regarding which ethnicity lives which way, and I don’t think I would find anything if I looked.

But the resignation in some people’s demeanor! Again, there seems to be no correlation with the quality of their clothes, their age or the color of their skin. A well-dressed older man with his head down so far he can hardly see where he’s walking. A young girl with her headphones on who can’t be bothered to glance to the side to see the person walking past. Then there’s the couple walking by looking perpetually like they’ve just had an argument.

It makes me sad at first, but in the long run, I’m encouraged. Because…

… When I do catch their eyes, they’re grateful, they become happy. They remember that they’re part of a community of other humans. Sometimes the old lady who’s trying as hard as she can to avoid eye contact, looking sad and beaten by life… when I say “hi”, she brightens up, comes to life, stands taller and walks on happy. And the kids under their ipods pretending they don’t care are relieved they don’t have to pretend anymore.

I’m incorrigible. I say hello to everyone, smile at everyone. People in elevators probably hate me… for a second. Then we talk and are friends for a moment.

In the bookstore the other day, an elderly lady thanked me for “waking her up.” What was so special about what I did? I asked for some book recommendations…

Homeless people- wow, all of a sudden they want to talk. I rarely have any money to give, but I have my willingness to connect, and for some people that’s worth everything. In fact, when I do have money to contribute, while I’m sure it’s appreciated, it’s really just an excuse to engage and offer a smile and kind word. Sometimes we have great conversations, and that person becomes energized and ready to take on the world again.

IMPORTANT! This isn’t me. This is can be all of us.

You can engage! Look at people. Talk to people. Those of you that know me know that I’m “shy”, but so what! That should stop me? Who cares if you’re shy or embarrassed! You are a gift and you make a difference. Give a word, a smile, a nod even. Most of all make eye contact. People are dying to make eye contact and sometimes they are too frightened to do so. You don’t have to be.

Be a hero for a moment. One smile or kind word begets another. Maybe two or three.

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Proof of Intelligent Design

I have decided that there must be an Intelligent Designer for the Universe. Things just work out too perfectly.

Case in point… Hard boiled eggs. They take exactly 3 minutes. How could that have happened by accident? Pure luck that here and now, after billions of years, all of these factors converge? I don’t think so. The average chicken egg, the boiling point of water, how long a minute is…

And rice- it cooks best when you use precisely twice as much water as rice. Any more or less, and it’s too wet or dry. How is this possible?

I tell you, it’s the hand of God.

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BBC News – Eating canned soup ‘poses a chemical risk’

It’s nice to see this finally hit the mainstream!

People who eat canned soup should be aware that a chemical used to line the tin can leach into the food and end up in the body, say scientists.

via BBC News – Eating canned soup ‘poses a chemical risk’.

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Fox News viewers less informed about current events, poll shows

We all knew this anyway, right? But it’s fun to see it in print.

“The results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all,” said Dan Cassino, a political science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson.

via Fox News viewers less informed about current events, poll shows – latimes.com.

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Calamities of Nature – Occupy California Universities

Calamities of Nature – Occupy California Universities.

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United We Stand.. – A colorful garden of words..

United We Stand.. – A colorful garden of words...

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