My New Doctor is F-ing Useless to Me – Here’s Why

TW/CW: As you could probably guess from the title, there will be much profanity in this post. This is therapeutic for me. If it’s offensive to you, then close this window now. That’s all I can say. You’ve been warned. Also, I will post the usual disclaimer at the end, but please be advised that this is not medical advice or suggestions. This is me, talking about my own personal experiences with doctors and the medical field in general.

I just turned 58 years old. In all of my years, I’ve only had one good general practitioner MD. ONE. I’d still be with her if I hadn’t moved out of state. She’s the only one I’ve ever trusted or respected at all. She’s the only one who’s ever truly listened to me – and respected my own choices about my own body.

I was assigned a new doctor with my new HMO I just got when I moved to Arizona. I tried to keep an open mind. I thought I was maybe going to like him when we got through almost my entire first meeting with him without his bringing up my weight. My optimism soon came crashing down … he’d just been saving it for his big speech at the end. <eye roll>

It would be easy to get lost in the details here, but I’ll just say that I told him I had a long history with dieting. I didn’t need to hear anything about weight loss. I had been controlling my blood sugar just fine until the pandemic and some life crises – and had every intention of getting back on track. I told him it was actually mentally and emotionally damaging to me for him to lecture me on my weight. He said he’d look at some books I’d recommended. I left cautiously hopeful.

Today I had a follow up appointment with him, which I was looking forward to -because almost the entire month of April, I spent in serious pain, deliberating whether I should go to the ER or Urgent Care – or just try to wait it out. To give some context – in 2006, I waited out pain like this – and when I finally went to the ER, my liver enzymes were off the charts (literally) and they told me that if I’d waited another day, I’d have probably gone into a coma and likely died. So, I’m fairly tolerant of pain, but waiting it out … now feels kind of scary. Am I risking my life? There’s also the financial aspect to consider. I only have a part-time job and fairly crappy insurance. I can’t afford the deductibles, so that’s another reason to avoid things like ER or Urgent Care visits.

I was so relieved for today to get here so that I could talk to my doctor about my symptoms and see what he thought. The reality is that the only real uses I have for a doctor is to reassure me that I’m not dying – and maybe some diagnostic tests if necessary.

He insisted on plugging my numbers into this calculator from the American Heart Association to show me my risk of heart attack/stroke if I didn’t take statins. If he’d been worth the effort, I would have shown him the long list of side effects from statins – and how they don’t actually improve health outcomes for most people. Again, this isn’t medical advice: do your own research. My body is not going to be polluted with fucking statin drugs!

Apparently, my irritation showed even with my mask on as he lectured me about stupid bullshit. He asked, “Am I boring you?” I responded, “Yes.” He sighed and typed some stuff in the computer, then asked, “So would it be fair to say that no matter what I say or do, you will not be willing to ever take this drug?” “Yes.” Types some more – now I’m probably in the stupid fucking system as “non-compliant.”

This is not health care! THIS IS NOT FUCKING HEALTH CARE!!!

But here is the worst part: I told him how I’d been in pain the entire month of April. I pointed to where it hurt, told him my symptoms, which included an enormous amount of belching and gas pain for no discernible reason, and terrible, stabbing/twisting pain in my back and rib area. Told him that my friend who is a physical therapist said that my ribs were out – and put them back in, but they kept pulling out. He gave me these meaningless statements about how everything is connected. I know that, motherfucker! I’ve been a myofascial release specialist for over 20 years! I don’t need you to explain basic shit to me. What I need to know is what could be causing these symptoms. Why do my ribs keep pulling out? Hint: it is NOT a fucking muscle pull! Something internal is fucking causing this! Is my pancreas in distress? Do I have a blocked bile duct? A kidney stone? What the fuck is causing these symptoms? And do I need life-saving medical care – or will this pass in time?

But he dismissed it all, saying that I’d probably bent funny and strained the muscles. NO! That absolutely wasn’t it! Strained muscles don’t make you unable to eat for three weeks! Strained muscles don’t make you unable to have a normal bowel movement for almost an entire month! I won’t go into all the gory details here – but there was something internally wrong with me. I KNOW it! I remembered when I had a similar experience for 6-7 weeks in 2019. A retired nurse friend told me to drink a beer and see if that helped. It did! So I tried it again. It helped! I’m down to just a residual pain in my right side under my ribs rather than the crippling pain I had for a month.

This stupid idiot said that it’s probably just a coincidence – that the beer just relaxed the muscles. NO! That is NOT fucking it! So fucking USELESS! He completely ignored the only health concerns that I was actually having in order to keep lecturing me about fucking medications that I will NEVER take!!! God damn it! This fucking medical system and fucking doctors and fucking Big Pharma – and worst of all, fucking insurance! It is ALL fucking useless! Well, mostly. There are some good doctors out there … and to be fair, I’ve had doctors save my life on more than one occasion. But this new doctor … NO!

Do you know what he actually said to me? When I agreed he was boring me? He said that he needed to tell me all of these things so he’d know I knew what I was choosing – so he could sleep at night. Motherfucker! I am NOT here to help you sleep at night! I am here for ME! I am here for my own health concerns and well-being. I don’t need your bullshit lectures and scare tactics – which, by the way, could cause the nocebo effect! He’s doing more harm than good! GTFOH with that shit!

So, here I am. Feeling massively frustrated and a little bit scared. There’s something wrong. I can feel it, but I don’t know what it is. The last time a doctor ignored my concern about symptoms, I had stage 3 uterine cancer that they caught just in time. I’d likely be dead by now if I hadn’t gone back to Michigan and consulted with doctors I trusted. I don’t have the money at this point to go back. So, what do I do?

My friend suggested a PA that she sees. I’m going to give her a call tomorrow and see if I can do a consultation with her – even if she doesn’t accept my insurance. I can’t just ignore this alarming pain. It may be nothing serious … but it’s not nothing. I need to know what’s happening. The useless fucking doctor today was not interested in helping me or addressing my concerns whatsoever. He had a pre-programmed script he was running. Who I am, what I’ve studied, what my history is, what my symptoms that I’m actively having NOW are – none of that was taken into account. Stupid ass was talking about what my percentage chance of having a heart attack was in 10 years, 20 years. What the FUCK?!? How is anybody that tone deaf, clueless, and completely incompetent?

Disclaimer: Please be advised that I am not a medical professional nor a dietician. This site is not in any way, shape, or form providing any sort of diagnosis, advice, cures, or recommendations for medical or dietary treatments. I am simply sharing my own journey and experiences. Nothing I say is intended to replace proper medical care.

Here’s the poem I mentioned about the doctor in Florida whose negligence could have killed me:

Doctor Weight-Bias

I don’t go to the doctor
unless it’s an emergency.
I hate doctors.
I wish I never had to go.
I can’t stand the arrogance,
the ignorance, 
the condescension
from someone who doesn’t even understand
that the correlation between weight and health
is greatly, phenomenally overstated.

But then I worry,
what if something went wrong?
I’d want someone I trust
to turn to for medical advice, 
to at least make sure I’m not dying.
I go, but refuse to be weighed.
The nurse sniffs, 
affronted.
I’m in the wrong place.
Can I leave now?

The doctor comes in and tells me
how essential it is to know my weight
how it impacts everything regarding my health and well-being
I try to tell her about Health At Every Size ™
She scoffs.
My anger rises dragging my blood pressure along with it.
She tells me fatness contributes to high blood pressure.
I seethe.
My blood pressure has always been low
I know something is wrong in my body!

Help me! I want to scream.
But I know she can’t.
She can’t hear me.
She can’t see me.
She can’t advise me.
Because she is brainwashed.
And the only input her brain allows when she sees me
is that I am fat.
I leave her office and go out for some pizza and beer.
I’ll look for another doctor another day.

It was cancer, by the way.
Cancer that was raising my blood pressure.
My gynecologist caught it just in time
Stage 3,
they got it all with surgery.
Doctors saved my life. 
Can’t hate them all.
But I still need to find a primary care doctor.
Haven’t seen anyone in over two years.
I just dread trying again.
I’d almost rather die.

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Can You Be Too Careful With Food Choices?

Listen, I always offer a disclaimer at the end of every post. I am not a doctor. I am not a nutritionist. And I am not making any suggestions or giving any advice. I’m simply exploring, talking about my own journey with diabetes, making observations about what is happening in my body/mind/spirit as I go along. Like the old bumper sticker says, “Don’t follow me. I’m lost too.” (Full disclaimer at the end of this post).

January was a rough month for me. For one thing, in spite of all of my precautions and my best efforts to avoid it, I got Covid. I’ve been dealing with the effects of that for about 3 weeks now. During that time, obviously, I’ve been in quarantine. I haven’t been going out for walks. I haven’t had the energy to exercise at all inside (on my rebounder) either. I have also not been super careful about what I’ve been eating. I haven’t been totally careless, but I have eaten significantly more carbs than usual. I’ve relied on what’s convenient, even frozen meals when microwaving something was all I could manage (if you haven’t had Covid, you can’t imagine how exhausting it can be). I ate Saltine crackers for the first time in years because I was craving them so bad (something about feeling sick and childhood memories). Even so, my blood sugar has been doing about the same as (or better than) when I was exercising regularly and being more careful about what I was eating. Explain that!

Let me tell you something: after about 3 years of not eating cereal at all because I was afraid it would raise my blood sugar too much, I’ve had cereal with half a banana for breakfast the last 4 days in a row. The first day, my blood sugar went up to 250 at one hour post prandial (I think that’s how you say it – one hour after eating). It was 181 at 2 hours. The next day, it only went to 235. I didn’t measure it the past two days. The interesting thing, though, is my morning sugar readings.

The first day after eating cereal, my morning reading was 132. Not great, but I’d also had a little ice cream the night before too. The next morning, it was 122. This morning, it was 113. I had a little ice cream last night too. When I say “a little” – I mean that – just a few spoonfuls of Haagen Daas. Not even half a cup. Still, I also had some little cinnamon rice cakes and a square of dark chocolate last night before bed. In addition to the Mexican chicken casserole my friend made, with some blue corn chips and salsa for dinner. And yet, my sugar went down! What?!?

It’s got me thinking. When I went about 18 months being “perfect” on my program – not eating basically anything off program (other than a little dark chocolate), no breads or potatoes or anything with carbs – one day I ate a bag of microwave popcorn and I felt like I was going to faint. My blood sugar skyrocketed and then plummeted. My body was so unused to handling that kind of food that it freaked out. It makes me wonder if I wasn’t being too careful – and setting up a situation where my body couldn’t handle “normal” eating (i.e. including some grains and other carbs in my diet).

I’d already been considering the effect of those restrictions on me mentally/emotionally. I’ve talked about that quite a bit before on this blog. But what about the physical effects? I remember my chiropractor decades ago talking about the dangers of antibacterial soaps – how the body needed some germs to fight against sometimes to keep up the immune system. It makes me wonder if my body doesn’t need a variety of foods to keep up the ability to handle, process, and assimilate different types of foods. Is that possible? I don’t know.

What I do know is that now that I’ve been less careful for over a year, I can eat a bag of microwave popcorn with no ill effects. I find that interesting. I’ve noticed that even though I’ve eaten basically the same things the past four days for all of my meals and snacks, my blood sugar has gotten better each day. I’m not sure why. Is it because my body actually got better at processing those foods each day? Is that possible? That fast? And the real kicker is that I haven’t exercised at all for three weeks – and at 113, that’s a pretty good reading for me – even for when I’m exercising regularly and being more careful about what I eat.

I’m not planning to be careless. I’m aware of quantities and combinations of food that present an issue for me. I’m also quite happy to be able to have cereal with banana slices on occasion. I’m looking forward to trying some other “healthy” (what I used to think of as healthy) favorites, like sweet potatoes, cream of buckwheat, and oatmeal in moderation. I’m monitoring how I feel and checking my blood sugar levels when I eat things that are out of the (new) ordinary. Definitely watching what’s happening with my morning fasting blood sugar levels. I’m finding some relief and pleasure that I don’t think I have to be quite so careful as I’ve been.

I wonder if anyone else has experienced this – that your body handles everything better if you aren’t too careful about what you eat and about avoiding carbs? So many people are so worried about “eating clean” – and I wonder if that doesn’t just make your system more sensitive and less able to handle variations in diet. I’ve noticed people who start cutting things out of their diet due to “sensitivities” – and then it just seems to keep escalating until there’s practically nothing left that they can eat. Maybe the “worried well” system isn’t the best way to go? I don’t know.

One other thing that may be impacting my morning blood sugar readings, is that I’ve been doing Reiki self-treatments each morning for the past 23 days (and counting), holding the intention that I return to perfect health and blood sugar balance, no matter what I eat. Maybe that’s working? I don’t know. I’m planning to keep going with that and see what happens. I’ll let you know.

Disclaimer: Please be advised that I am not a medical professional nor a dietician. This site is not in any way, shape, or form providing any sort of diagnosis, advice, cures, or recommendations for medical or dietary treatments. I am simply sharing my own journey and experiences. Nothing I say is intended to replace proper medical care.

If you find this blog helpful and would like to help me keep it going – you can go here. Anything helps – and I really appreciate it!

I also do individual coaching on self-love and body image if you feel that would be helpful to you. Go here to learn more. Best wishes on your path!

A Little Update

Hi Everyone!

I’m currently battling covid (sucks! – and I was so careful! I’m grateful that I’ve been vaccinated and boosted, wouldn’t want to suffer worse than it’s been!).

Anyway, this post won’t be long. My renewal to pay for this blog is coming up – and I’m not going to renew. I’m going to revert back to the free site, which I’m not entirely sure what that will mean for all of my posts or my url or anything. So … for anyone who finds this blog interesting or beneficial, I want to let you know about my business site that I will continue paying for. You can find me there – and once I have my new url for here, I’ll share that there too.

I do plan to keep sharing my journey with diabetes. I have some posts that have been percolating, but it’s been a season of illness and busyness that have prevented me from moving forward – they will be coming soon!

In the meantime, hope you all are staying well! I’m going to go rest and continue with necessary self-care.

When “Healthy” Foods Are No Longer Healthy Because of Diabetes

I opened a health food store in my 20’s, partly because I was a vegetarian at the time – and back then grocery stores didn’t have a lot to offer.

What I considered to be my very healthy diet back then consisted primarily of fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, and legumes. Having a bowl of brown rice with steamed veggies was perfect. I lived on sweet potatoes, what I understood to be one of the most nutritious, health-promoting foods available. I also had white potatoes, steamed or baked, served with big sides of salad or veggies. I had a banana virtually every single day, often frozen in a fruit smoothie, which generally also consisted of pineapple juice and frozen berries. That picture above? Something like that represented healthful eating to me a few years ago – and I loved fruit salads and such! I ate fruit without a second thought whenever I was hungry. I believed it was always a healthy choice.

For breakfast, I often ate whole grain cereals, always with fruit, and sometimes with whole grain toast. I believed oatmeal was one of the best foods to eat, so I enjoyed that frequently – topped with a banana and occasionally raisins, pecans, and honey. I was a healthy and health-minded granola and yogurt munching gal.

Here’s my problem: the joyful abandon with which I ate all of those “healthy” foods has come to a crashing halt due to diabetes. I can’t eat almost any of those foods anymore. Bananas, rice, potatoes (sweet or white), cereal, oats, etc. – all of them are bad for my blood sugar. Even legumes! My body doesn’t process them well anymore, which is really sad for me. I’m not wishing I could eat a donut. I’m wishing I could eat a sweet potato or a banana!

It’s not that I can never have a bite of sweet potato or banana, but that I can’t have them regularly – and I have to be careful and monitor more than usual when I do. And that sucks! I just mostly avoid them now. They may be healthy and nutritious choices for most people, but they are potentially dangerous for me. And that sucks!

Well, I tell myself, life isn’t always fair. I was fortunate to get to enjoy them for over 50 years. And there are still lots of tasty foods that I can enjoy now!

So, while I long for a bowl of fresh fruit-topped oatmeal or cereal and some orange juice … instead, for breakfast every morning I eat 2 eggs, accompanied by 1/2 sprouted grain English muffin with almond butter, and a small orange or 1/2 grapefruit. When I can get them, I also often add 1/2 an avocado. On occasions when my morning blood sugar is higher than I’m happy with, I cut the English muffin and add some veggies, like broccoli. I never drink any juice anymore.

For lunches and dinners, I eat veggies and salads with protein – either chicken, turkey, or beef (cause that’s all I like in the meat category and I don’t like seafood). Sometimes I’ll treat myself to pizza or something like that – but I have to be careful to not do it too frequently or I’ll see it on the blood sugar monitor pretty quickly.

These last three years have been an exploration (that is on-going) of what I can eat and still keep my blood sugar in range. I’m mostly strict, but not always. I find that if I’m too strict, I tend to get depressed or have reactionary swings where I’m like, “screw it” and then eat whatever I want. Like many things in life, it’s all about finding that balance.

In lieu of having the hamburger and fries that I sometimes crave, I’ve started having hamburger salad – which consists of lettuce, tomatoes, celery, red onions, avocado, peppers, mixed shredded cheese, bread and butter pickles, and a cut up burger (I get frozen Simple Truth burgers and cook one in a pan while I’m making the salad). Topped with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and some sea salt. It is delicious! Objectively, it tastes better than any burger and fries I’ve ever had. Subjectively, given a choice, I would choose the burger and fries almost every time. But I don’t. Because I can’t. I mean, I could – but I’m not willing to suffer the health consequences. So, I don’t.

So, this is what it’s like for me, negotiating diabetes. While blood sugar isn’t everything regarding health, it certainly is important. Also important are other factors of social, emotional, and mental health and well-being. All of it is a dance that we learn as we go. How’s it going for you?

Disclaimer: Please be advised that I am not a medical professional nor a dietician. This site is not in any way, shape, or form providing any sort of diagnosis, advice, cures, or recommendations for medical or dietary treatments. I am simply sharing my own journey and experiences. Nothing I say is intended to replace proper medical care.

If you find this blog helpful and would like to help me keep it going – you can go here. Anything helps – and I really appreciate it!

I also do individual coaching on self-love and body image if you feel that would be helpful to you. Go here to learn more. Best wishes on your path!

My Blood Sugar Control Program – It Works When I Do It

I’ve been solidly back on (and staying on) my blood sugar control program for one month today. My morning fasting blood sugar levels have been mostly between 100 and 110, with one slide up to 126. The only time it went above that was when I had snacks (summer sausage, cheese, and multi-grain crackers) at a friend’s house the night before. It went to 139. I didn’t panic or get discouraged. I just ate totally on program the next day and it went right back to normal range.

Because I’ve been doing so good, I’ve started adding back a little bit of food that isn’t on my program on a very occasional basis. I had a bag of microwave popcorn a few days ago. Another day, I had a couple of slices of pepperoni and mushroom pizza. There were no ill effects in either case.

Here’s some of what I’m doing right this time:

  1. I’m limiting the higher carb foods I don’t usually eat to one per day – and most days I don’t have any. In other words, I don’t combine pizza with beer and potato chips – or with carrot and celery sticks with poppyseed or Ranch dressing – all of which becomes too much for my system to process. I had my pizza with a glass of water and nothing else. I froze the leftovers to eat another time.
  2. I’m sticking with olive oil and balsamic vinegar on my salads. All of the creamy salad dressings I used to enjoy are fairly high in sugar.
  3. I’m making sure to eat regularly so that I don’t get too hungry. When I’m over-hungry, my good judgment about what to eat goes out the window.
  4. I’m preparing foods ahead of time so that I don’t run out of energy and then eat something that isn’t as good for me because it’s easier.
  5. I’m keeping up with my Diabetes Management Journal, writing down what I’m eating and my exercise/activity so that I can track the impacts on my blood sugar. It also helps me to keep steady with my program.

I was doing really well with getting out and walking regularly, but this past week, I’ve been taking a break. My knee and lower back have been hurting and I don’t want to make it worse. Over the week, I’ve felt the improvement that resting has brought – and I’m planning to get back to walking when my body feels ready – I’m not going to push it. Fortunately, the lack of exercise doesn’t seem to have negatively impacted my blood sugar.

I’m looking forward to being more active again, though. I like it when my body feels strong and my mobility feels good. I’m going to start back to activity with bouncing on my rebounder, which is something that I’ve found to be so beneficial for me in so many ways over the years. It’s gentle on my knees and a great exercise. I just turn on some music and jump, usually for 20-30 minutes, but when I don’t have the energy for that, I’ll just jump to one song (which sometimes gets my energy up more and ends up being a few more songs!).

I’ve had my rebounder for over 20 years. It has traveled with me from Michigan to Florida to Colorado to Arizona. I love my bike, but I can’t always ride it. I can always jump on my rebounder. I’m grateful to have invested in a high quality one, which is so important because the cheaper ones can break – and I’m not looking to sustain any injuries. If you’re looking for a good rebounder, click here – this is the kind I have. (This is my first ever affiliate link and I receive a 10% commission if you purchase from them. This is a product that I do highly endorse.)

Well, heading into Thanksgiving tomorrow and I’m not worried. One meal isn’t going to make or break me on this program. I’m also not planning to eat carelessly. I’m not going to deny myself anything I really want, but I’ll watch the quantities and the combinations so that I keep my blood sugar fairly balanced. The days of over-eating on Thanksgiving are in the past for me. I’ll enjoy, but be mindful of staying healthy through this holiday season.

Disclaimer: Please be advised that I am not a medical professional nor a dietician. This site is not in any way, shape, or form providing any sort of diagnosis, advice, cures, or recommendations for medical or dietary treatments. I am simply sharing my own journey and experiences. Nothing I say is intended to replace proper medical care.

If you find this blog helpful and would like to help me keep it going – you can go here. Anything helps – and I really appreciate it!

I also do individual coaching on self-love and body image if you feel that would be helpful to you. Go here to learn more. Best wishes on your path!

A Day In The Life of My Dance With Diabetes

Just FYI: I’m leading this dance now. That’s what happens when I stay on track (which is not always, but I’m working on it!). I thought I’d share what a typical day looks like for me in terms of food and activity.

I generally like to start the day with a nice walk for about an hour, time and weather-permitting. The picture above is one of the trails I walk on. Just beautiful! If I can’t do the morning walk, I either go for an afternoon walk or jump on my rebounder for 30 minutes and/or dance. Music helps! I also often listen to podcasts while I walk. It’s not necessary to walk a whole hour – I just like to. Just 30 minutes would be sufficient – and any walking (or movement if walking isn’t available) is better than none. Smaller increments is great! Sometimes I’ll bounce on the rebounder for one song a few times a day. Some days, I opt for yoga instead – and some days, just rest. I try to listen to my body and what it needs.

It helps me a lot to keep track of my morning blood sugar (and sometimes other times of day), what I’m eating, my activity levels, and how I’m feeling. I note if any foods seem to affect me in a certain way (like I get tired right after eating, or conversely, I feel energized). I’m very excited to have just received some of my new diabetes management journals from Amazon today! Keeping track of everything just got easier and more fun!

Here’s what they look like inside:

So, on a typical day, I usually have two eggs for breakfast. If my sugar is higher than my target range, I’ll enjoy them with veggies. If my sugar is doing well, then I’ll often have half a sprouted grain English muffin with almond butter, and half a grapefruit with my eggs. Lately, I’ve been adding half an avocado to breakfast too. Delicious! I sprinkle my eggs liberally with turmeric and cinnamon, as well as the usual Himalayan pink sea salt and Penzey’s black pepper. (I get all of my herbs and spices from Penzey’s – I love them!) If you’re concerned about my cholesterol with all of those eggs, don’t worry! It actually went from 220 all the way down to 159 eating this way!

I usually have a salad with either chicken, turkey, or beef for lunch. I wish I liked seafood, which is a great option, but unfortunately for me, I don’t. A salad for me looks like a greens mix and/or romaine lettuce with tomatoes, red onions, bell peppers, avocado, and whatever protein I choose. I use olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sometimes I add cucumbers or sautéed veggies. I’ve just started exploring with adding some hot veggies and meats to salads, which has turned out really well so far!

For snacks, and sometimes as a side for my meals, I make up a nut mix with walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, and pistachios. Personally, I have to be careful not to eat too much of this mix because I don’t have a gallbladder anymore. When I’m doing really well with my blood sugar, I may have an apple and/or some string cheese for a snack.

For dinners, I usually have either stir-fried veggies and meat or some soup with meat if I don’t feel like a lot of prepping and cooking. I cook a bunch of chicken breasts in a crock pot every couple of weeks, then chop it up and freeze some of it so I always have pre-cooked chicken on hand. It’s always handy to have some food already prepped – veggies for salads and stir fries, etc. – so I can stay on track without too much effort for those times when the days are long and I’m tired.

So, that’s a typical day when I’m leading the dance with diabetes. As you can see, I’m not going hungry at all! I actually do feel a lot better when I eat this way. Sometimes, I get bored with it and want some pizza or something like that. But usually, once I’m in the groove, I mostly stay in the groove. When I’m feeling good and my blood sugar readings are in the normal range, why would I risk that? On the other hand, I do like having some flexibility, so I don’t freak out if the foods I usually choose aren’t available to me. One meal off program isn’t going to do too much damage – it’s what I do consistently that matters. And the dance goes on ….

Disclaimer: Please be advised that I am not a medical professional nor a dietician. This site is not in any way, shape, or form providing any sort of diagnosis, advice, cures, or recommendations for medical or dietary treatments. I am simply sharing my own journey and experiences. Nothing I say is intended to replace proper medical care.

Stop Conflating Weight with Health, Particularly with Diabetes

Trigger/Content Warning: Discussion of harm of weight-loss dieting/focus, mention of calorie deprivation and psychological impacts.

Look, I am not a doctor or nutritionist or in any form of medical care (please see my complete disclaimer at the end) – but as an observant human being with a brain, and a lifetime of my own lived experiences behind me, I’d like to point out some things that seem clear and obvious to me.

First of all, I spent over 20 years of my life as an active, perfectly healthy and health-conscious fat woman. (I was blessed with good health and some people of all sizes and shapes are not – health is not a sign of doing things “right” and it is not a measure of worth – there are too many factors that play into health to go into here – bottom line: health is a gift. Can we do things that enhance health? Sometimes. People who suffer from health conditions deserve support, not judgment.) My health indicator numbers were all consistently good, even though more than one doctor wrote the condemning words “morbidly obese” on my chart. I grew up eating a wide variety of healthy foods – eating my fruits and veggies and balancing my color palate is second nature to me.

Prior to becoming fat, I had spent about two decades trying desperately to become thinner than I naturally was. I’m not going to go deeply into it here, but that weight loss dieting affected my “set-point” weight – and when I stopped dieting and ate normally, my weight rose. I still stayed healthy – and other than needing to get my gallbladder removed (arguably caused by my previous weight-loss attempts), I remained well for many years.

If you are interested in learning more about the science of “set-point” and why weight loss dieting is harmful, I recommend reading Lindo Bacon’s book, Health At Every Size, following Ragen Chastain at her blog, Dances With Fat and her new Weight and Healthcare newsletter, which has excellent information and links to endless resources, and checking out ASDAH (the Association for Size Diversity and Health) – lots of resources by physicians and nutritionists and mental health care professionals.

I had no problems with my blood sugar until May of 2018, following two courses of antibiotics for a tooth infection and root canal. Now, I have no scientific proof of this, but I had to stop the second round of antibiotics because I could literally feel them destroying me inside, like a wrecking ball on all of my systems. The pain was terrifying. A month or two later, I got my diabetes diagnosis. I don’t think they are unrelated, but like I said, no proof. Although, if you Google “getting antibiotics after taking diabetes” you will see right on top “Those that filled 2 to 4 prescriptions of antibiotics of any type had a 53% increased risk of having type 2 diabetes than those who filled 0 to 1 prescriptions of antibiotics.” Then there are a bunch of links that discuss the connection between diabetes and antibiotics. So … maybe proof? Anyway, that’s not the point of this post.

Once I got my diagnosis and went on Dr. Hyman’s plan, within a few weeks, I had my blood sugar back at normal levels. As I’ve talked about previously, I maintained those normal levels for over 18 months, until I started sliding off the program and not being as careful. It’s a delicate balance and dance for me as I cope with some of the mental health damage from trauma I suffered from so many years of weight loss dieting. Don’t believe that weight loss dieting causes trauma? Look up the work of Ancel Keys. The men in that starvation study were on a “starvation diet” of 1570 calories a day – which was a feast compared to the limitations that I used to impose on myself based on recommendations from endless women’s magazines.

When I was growing up, women were constantly encouraged to eat 500 calories a day, or sometimes a more moderate 1200 calories a day. I took that seriously – even when I felt like I was starving and even when I felt despondent about not being able to enjoy foods like everyone else. I once went 10 days without eating anything at all, just drinking water. No wonder my metabolism and my mental health suffered! But again, I digress – that’s not the point.

Here’s my point: less than two weeks ago, my morning blood sugar was quite high. Without medication and without weight loss (full disclosure: I haven’t weighed myself, but certainly I haven’t lost the 10% of my body weight that doctors ridiculously recommend) – my blood sugar is back to normal. Yesterday, it hit 99 – the first time I’ve been under 100 in months. I didn’t starve. I didn’t count calories. I just did the program that I know works for me, avoiding foods that I’ve learned set off my blood sugar and making sure to get some form of exercise/activity most every day.

I’m writing this post because almost everywhere you read about diabetes, the recommendation is to lose weight. Well, it may happen naturally as you avoid inflammation-causing foods (which are the same foods that drive my blood sugar up), but it also may not happen. The body regulates its own weight – and putting a focus on weight-loss detracts from the health-promoting steps one can take to get back in balance. Even suggesting weight loss can create a body-shaming vibe that makes it more challenging to treat one’s body with the love and self-care one deserves.

If people happen to lose weight, fine. If they don’t, fine. It is healthier in every way if the focus is on health and well-being (physical, mental, emotional) rather than on weight. What foods feel good in your body? What foods make you feel tired? Nauseous? Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Check your blood sugar regularly to ascertain for yourself which foods raise your blood sugar levels too much. Keep records and lists for reference. I use my journals. Are you moving enough? Do you need to dance or get outside and walk or go for a bike ride? Ask your doctor to work with you in a weight-neutral way. If they won’t, find a doctor who will. You deserve to have your body and health cared for in a way that is supportive and respectful of the body you have. If you need any help with self-love or body image, check out my website where I offer coaching programs. Best wishes to you on your health journey!

Disclaimer: Please be advised that I am not a medical professional nor a dietician. This site is not in any way, shape, or form providing any sort of diagnosis, advice, cures, or recommendations for medical or dietary treatments. I am simply sharing my own journey and experiences. Nothing I say is intended to replace proper medical care.

Getting and Staying On Track with Diabetes Management

You haven’t heard from me in a while for several reasons – primarily because my dance with diabetes fell out of my awareness as other priorities demanded my attention. I was busy doing the thing I am now forced to realize I cannot do – which is ignore my diabetes. I’d like to pretend that I can eat what I want, what’s convenient and easy in my busy life – and that I can exercise as much or as little as I want, again according to what is convenient. I was only occasionally checking my blood sugar (even though I KNOW better!). I noticed that my morning sugars were sometimes hitting into the 140’s and 150’s. I was a little concerned, but not alarmed. I had days where I was more careful, then days when I slipped back into carelessness.

My big wake up call came one night a little over a week ago when I wasn’t feeling so great, took my blood sugar – and saw a number that was incomprehensible to me: 314. I’d been concerned whenever my sugar had gone over 200. Going over 300 was a five-alarm call that I had to get back on track STAT! So, back to basics for me. I immediately went back on Mark Hymans’ program, which I talked about in my first post. I committed to being active every day – making exercise the priority it absolutely MUST BE in order for me to stay healthy. I cannot afford to keep screwing around, no matter what else is going on in my life!

In one week of consistent effort, I was able to get my morning blood sugar down from between 147-157 to between 110-122, and I’ve kept it under 200 throughout the days. I’m not done! That’s just a start! I know from experience that I can get it down to between 100-110 and keep it there – and that’s my goal! Yesterday I hit 105 and today, 112. I’m not worried about the little fluctuations because I know that the testing strips aren’t always very consistent (as I wrote about previously). What I am focused on is that I’m in the neighborhood of where I want to be on a regular basis. Under 120 feels a whole lot different than over 150, no matter how much the test strips vary.

I am laser-focused now. I know I can do it! I’m a little irritated with myself that I was so careless these past many months, taking my body and my health more or less for granted again (I know better!). It’s easy to do, though – especially when I’m busy and don’t feel like I have time to plan things out like I need to do in order to stay on track. Funny how quickly my priorities can change! Managing my blood sugar just rose to the top of my priority list once again – and this time, it’s going to stay there. No more screwing around!

I’ve started keeping a food and exercise journal again, tracking my blood sugar throughout the day as desired, definitely every morning. I’m also writing how I feel – because that plays a big part in my food choices. What foods do I notice make me feel like I need a nap as soon as I eat them? What foods feel like fuel in my body that keep me going? What emotions come up for me when I’m not eating my “comfort foods” – and how do I deal with them? (This will get its own separate post sometime soon.) Tracking my progress helps me to stay on target for my healthiest self. I’m not tracking my weight, because that is irrelevant. My A1C is my concern. It’ll take another 3 months, but I’m going to rock my A1C then. I’m on track again now – and I intend to stay there!

I’d just been keeping track of everything in regular spiral notebooks, but I decided to make myself a diabetes management journal that would make it easier and more organized for me. They have easy to fill in charts and some encouragement along the way. They will last for six months if you do them daily, which I absolutely will! I like to think I can just manage it in my head, but that truly doesn’t work for me. I’d rather make the little extra effort to keep on keeping track rather than to go through this again. It’s so much easier to stay healthy than to have to try to fight to get back my health and energy!

If anyone is interested, I made a bunch of different covers for my journals and they are now available on Amazon. If that link happens to fail, do a search for “Kat Barron, Diabetes Management Journal” and they should all come up. Below are a few samples. Please share with friends and family who may benefit!

Disclaimer: Please be advised that I am not a medical professional nor a dietician. This site is not in any way, shape, or form providing any sort of diagnosis, advice, cures, or recommendations for medical or dietary treatments. I am simply sharing my own journey and experiences. Nothing I say is intended to replace proper medical care.

I Can’t Go Back, Much As I’d Like To

I’ve mostly adjusted to my new way of eating. I don’t make perfect choices all day long every day by any means, but I’m definitely making better choices most of the time. Every once in a while, I’ll try eating the “old way” – and I’ll quickly be reminded, even in just one meal, that I can’t. There’s no going back, no matter how good I’m feeling.

Breakfast has always been my favorite meal – and going out to breakfast has been one of my favorite things to do. Brunch is absolute heaven. Was absolute heaven. I can’t eat most of my favorites anymore – certainly not all together at once. I can have a little here and there, but the thrill of mixing all of my favorites together and eating until I’m too full to continue … that’s a no go at this point.

This was my heaven on earth in the past. Now, it’s a dangerous temptation.

I went out to breakfast this morning for the first time in over two years. I used to share a veggie omelet and strawberry pancakes with my daughter when she was little. That was my ideal – half of each. We’d also drink hot chocolate and orange juice. Those were the days!

There was nobody who wanted to share like that this morning, so I got the combo meal that had scrambled eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and two big blueberry pancakes. I haven’t had pancakes in years and was also so thrilled to be out – I just wanted to feel that old feeling of enjoying with abandon, you know? I had water to drink – I wasn’t going totally off the rails! LOL

When the food came, I put one of the pancakes on another plate and offered it to the table. I only ate half of my hash browns. I didn’t even eat the whole pancake. I was indulging, but also being a little careful about it. My small efforts in that direction weren’t as effective as I’d hoped they’d be.

I noticed on the drive home that I was starting to feel a buzzing in my body. By the time I got home, I felt high as a kite. I took my blood sugar reading. 258. The highest it’s been in memory. It’s now almost four hours later and I’m still not feeling great. My brain is still foggy. I feel more like sleeping than doing anything else. And I am reminded why I usually choose to be so much more careful about what I eat. None of that food was worth feeling how I’ve felt since eating it.

A number I don’t ever want to see again on my monitor!

It can be hard feeling like I’m leaving behind the fun and festivity associated with food. Many of my happiest memories are intimately tied up with sharing meals and snacks and drinks with people I love. It’s not as fun when I can’t eat all of the foods I enjoy and have to be careful in my food choices. That’s true – but it’s also not fun feeling like I’m feeling now with my blood sugar way up and my body clearly unhappy with me, signaling me with pain and fatigue and disorientation. Not. Cool!

So. What can I do?

Well, I’ve been happy and okay these past couple of years not going out to breakfast (or out to eat at all, really). It’s so much easier to stay on track when I’m eating at home. But if an opportunity like today comes up and I really want to go out – and I do enjoy going out! – then I just have to be mindful and more strategic in my choices. I know that potatoes set off my sugar, so hash browns aren’t a good choice, obviously. If I really want a couple of bites, okay – but half of a large serving is still way too much for me. The pancake was a huge letdown – it didn’t even taste that great. I don’t know why I had more than one bite! If I’m going to eat high carb foods like that, it has to be one at a time – and/or much smaller quantities. And if it’s not truly delicious – dump it!

One thing I’ve also found helpful since my diagnosis is to make sure I have healthy snacks available to me at all times. I’m more inclined to make better choices when I’m not super hungry (like I was this morning). In fact, that idea of eating smaller meals/snacks more regularly really has seemed to work for me when I’ve done it. There’s a sweet spot where I feel satisfied – neither full nor too hungry.

It’s also helpful to have some pre-made salads that I can grab easily, and/or veggies that are ready to throw in a wok or steamer, and chicken that’s already cooked and ready to eat. Making sure I’m well-nourished actually does take away a lot of the cravings for foods that are less than ideal for my blood sugar. I haven’t been as good at pre-planning lately as I was there for a while. I’m going to need to get better organized again – because that really was helpful!

I’m feeling committed again to feeling better and making better choices. I wish it didn’t have to come to this – but sometimes when we’re finding our edges, we do push past them and have to reign it back in a little. That’s life. It’s a delicate dance sometimes, trying to find our balance and our limits.

Disclaimer: Please be advised that I am not a medical professional nor a dietician. This site is not in any way, shape, or form providing any sort of diagnosis, advice, cures, or recommendations for medical or dietary treatments. I am simply sharing my own journey and experiences. Nothing I say is intended to replace proper medical care.

Freaking Out Doesn’t Help

CW/TW: some talk about weight loss dieting negative impacts

The other morning, my fasting blood sugar was 162. I took it again, feeling incredulous. 155. Okay, so unusually high. Some may say, alarmingly high. A year or two ago, a reading like that would have had me freaking out – re-organizing my whole life, panic mode level of “gotta fix this NOW!”

I may have said, “oh, shit” that morning upon seeing that reading – but I wasn’t particularly upset or worried. For one thing, I was aware that I’d eaten dinner much later than usual the night before – and that I’d had higher-carb foods than usual. Okay. A signal to be more mindful – perhaps not choose to eat so late, and, if I’d missed dinner earlier and was super hungry, at least to choose something a little lower carb. My memory isn’t super clear at this point, but I think I may have had chicken nachos and a beer that night prior. Not the best choice in the world. Also, not going to kill me on the spot.

When I was first diagnosed, I was totally freaked out, running around like it was a five-alarm fire that I had to get under control right this minute! For over 18 months, I was ridiculously meticulous about everything – to the extent that it became unsustainable for me. Then I had the (predictable) rebound effect and started being less and less careful until I was basically not careful at all. I had thought that because it was diabetes (a legitimate health issue) that it would feel different for me than my rebellion against weight loss dieting. It really didn’t feel all that different. I understood (and understand) that the stakes are much higher and more important in controlling my blood sugar – but the same psychological processes around deprivation and desire were playing out in my psyche and emotions as had been when I’d dealt with the oppressive scourge of weight loss dieting.

I am continuing to find my way into a balance I can live with. Life circumstances also have a huge impact on how I am able to handle this attempted balance. I haven’t written on this blog in weeks – because, first of all, I did a two week workshop in which I left the house before 9 am and usually returned after 11 pm. I didn’t have the time or energy to write. I also didn’t have the time or energy to plan my meals or to eat “right.” It didn’t help at all that the AirBnB where the workshop was held was a vegetarian space that didn’t allow meat on the property. Fine for people for whom that works, but that’s seriously inconvenient for people with health issues like mine, who require animal protein to stay healthy/balanced.

I suppose I could have taken walks on breaks, but I, a) really didn’t have the energy, and b) fell off a step I didn’t see the first day and ended up jamming both of my knees and my right wrist – which made it really challenging getting up from and down on the floor throughout the workshop. Going for a walk was not an appealing option with the level of pain I was in. Sigh. But I lived. I made it. It was okay.

My point in all of this is that for many people, a lot of the time, it isn’t possible to follow ideal guidelines for controlling blood sugar. Whether it is psychological – or physical constraints regarding time, energy, resources, finances, obligations, etc. – it is a very privileged position to be in that allows one to do all the things that create ideal conditions for the body to maintain balance and health. So, we do what we can, when and how we can – and need to make peace with the rest to the best of our ability.

I want to make this clear: that day that I got the terrible reading – I didn’t go into lockdown. I didn’t have a “perfect” eating day that day in a panicked frenzy to get my blood sugar under control. I was more mindful than I’d been the previous day, yes. I made a point to have my dinner at an earlier time. The next morning, my blood sugar was 131. Not at all in my target range, but much improved from the previous day – and that’s how I’m taking it. Given what is happening in my life, I’m doing the best I can – some days that is better than others.

After the workshop, I was sick for a week or two. Just depleted from too long of days and not enough rest and not ideal food/exercise conditions. (Yes, I did get tested for Covid – it was negative). So, basically a whole month without regular exercise. I’ve walked a couple of times this week. Hopped on the vibration plate machine my housemate has a couple of times. I’m getting my eating routines back into more balance – and by that, I don’t mean being totally “on program.” My blood sugar is coming back more into balance. I’m so glad I’m not freaking out about it anymore.

I don’t want to be stupid about it, obviously – but I also don’t want to be controlled by fear. I remain unwilling to be medicated. I feel mostly well – and that’s my biggest indicator of what’s happening in my body. I continue to monitor my morning sugars and pay attention to my well-being in all areas of my life. My most recent eye exam showed that my eyes are fine (one of my biggest concerns about my diagnosis). At 57, I am so blessed as to not even need reading glasses. I am grateful for my eyesight, and for this body and this life.

I’m going to keep paying attention to what are the best choices for me in my daily life to stay well – physically, emotionally, mentally, psychologically – even spiritually. To me, it’s all tied together. Freaking out throws me off balance. Strict dietary programs and over-emphasis on activity throw me off balance. I’m riding the waves of recovery from decades of weight loss dieting traumas, negotiating new pathways in my relationship to food and health/well-being. I’m also learning on a deeper level what would have been very helpful for me to know when I was first diagnosed: I don’t have to go to extremes or get this under perfect control immediately – it is okay to take my time and find my way into balance.

I’m laughing now at how offended I was at the diabetes class I took, where they suggested a diet that included bread and other carbs. I’d read such strong condemnations of wheat and its impact on blood sugar that I was sure these “professionals” had no idea what they were talking about. Recommending grains and legumes – are you kidding me? Didn’t they know anything? LOL Yeah, in the beginning, I was a whole exercise in extremity – sure because of my own “success” with Dr. Hyman’s program, that the ADA (and their recommended diet) was all misguided nonsense. I still haven’t actually looked back into their recommendations after that cursory dismissal because they weren’t strict enough (in my opinion).

Now, I’m thinking that the ADA’s more balanced program was probably much closer to what I needed long-term – what was sustainable for me. Bread is important to my happiness. And restricting whole food groups is not beneficial to my psyche. Maybe one of these days I’ll look into it again. Until then, I’m finding my own way the best I can each day – and taking it easy on me. Honestly, my joy and pleasure in life feels like the most important factor for me. Everything else flows from that.

Disclaimer: Please be advised that I am not a medical professional nor a dietician. This site is not in any way, shape, or form providing any sort of diagnosis, advice, cures, or recommendations for medical or dietary treatments. I am simply sharing my own journey and experiences. Nothing I say is intended to replace proper medical care.