Sunday, October 28, 2012

Diabetes. Damn.

Three weeks ago, I had some vacation stored up at work, so I took the week off, hoping to dive headfirst into a few of my writing projects. I even posted about my plans.

Interestingly, I did get some work done in the beginning of the week. And, of course, as with any time off from work, I found myself also chipping away at the chores—close the pool (a task that was woefully overdue), get the yard ready for the coming winter, some upkeep on the vehicles.

But then Thursday hit and my week sort of went to complete hell.

I got a phone call from my doctor.

Monday, (October 8th), I'd had some blood drawn and tests were done. Thursday afternoon, my doctor called to give me the results. Interestingly, it's my doctor's policy to NOT give you a call unless there's something “abnormal” in your test results. So, I should've known something was up.

“I have some bad news,” she started out. “You have Diabetes.”

I didn't quite know what to make of it. She started to rattle off some numbers at me that thoroughly confused me. Sugars were 259. Triglycerides were 1800. These meant nothing to me. Not a damned thing. Hell, 259 sounded pretty low to me. I mean, for what I drank and ate, it should been in the thousands. Right? Wrong. I knew nothing about the numbers she was telling me and I knew even less about what I was supposed to do about it. She said I should come in to the office after her last patient and she would go over my glucometer (which still sounds like a piece of brewing equipment to me, rather than an instrument of medicine) and how to test my blood.

We talked a bit about my numbers. I begged her for another round of testing to be sure because what I hadn't told her was that I spent the entirety of the previous Sunday (the day before they drew the blood) drinking pitchers of a bizarre concoction called “Shark Attack” and popping bleu-cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon like they were going out of style. My numbers couldn't possibly be good after a day like that. She agreed and wrote me a script for another round of tests. We agreed that I'd go take the test in a week.

Now, there are a few people in my life that understand that I lead a double life. By day, I'm expert in Information Security (hacking, etc.) and I do this writer thing in my free time (which is minimal). So, I went home and (after letting my wife know that something was wrong) decided to approach my new disease with the same kind of logic that I approach a computer when looking to break into it.

The first thing any good hacker does is something called “information gathering”. We learn as much as possible about a system before we even touch it, so that we can know all the different ways it can be manipulated. We learn its strengths and its weaknesses to figure out all the ways it works and all the ways it breaks.

Thursday night, I learned anything I could about what Diabetes was. I learned that your blood sugars should be between 60-110 mg/dL. When you want to be in a fat burning zone, you ideally want your blood glucose to be between 60 and 90 mg/dL. So, 259 was just this side of frickin' ridiculous. Those numbers weren't right. They were astronomical.

That got me to thinking about how the body works and I started to research how the body processes sugar. I found an interesting video regarding the “fat burning” zone and how when your pancreas is busy getting rid of chemicals like High Fructose Corn Syrup, it can't properly balance things out that it was built to balance. Now, I'd heard the arguments either way “for” or “against” HFCS. I never really cared. But I thought about the fact that I drank at least 3 tall Arizona Green Iced Tea (with Ginseng & Honey) a day (some days more) and thought there must be absolutely no way that my pancreas could be doing it's regular job with me pouring all that sweetened tea down my throat.

So, I decided to remove that from my diet. I mean, it's not like I couldn't drink water or unsweetened tea. I love either. Which got me thinking: there must be other ways to regulate my sugar, as well.

I then learned about the Glycemic Index and the fact that many people have learned to regulate their blood glucose by adhering to a low glycemic diet. I even read there was a 70-something man who had adopted a low GI diet, added in a little fiber supplement and had reversed his doctor's diagnosis in just a few months.

Adopting a low glycemic diet didn't look like it was going to be too bad, either. I mean, I like to eat. But adopting an “eat something every few hours” diet wasn't so bad. I also started to devour recipes where low glycemic foods were introduced. They were great!

I started making my coffee without sugar and something miraculous happened: I realized that my sugar-loaded chain store coffee didn't taste very good with just milk. I sped on over to a small place near me that sells some gourmet beans and found a great tasting coffee that didn't need sugar. I also found that my ability to differentiate various types of coffee improved and I started to really dig on the beans I'd picked.

I drank a lot more water during the day. I changed my morning routine so I had a bowl of some interesting Kashi cereal first thing. Then later in the morning, I'd have a piece of fruit to follow it up. But not just any fruit: something low on the glycemic index. I'd have a yogurt or some cottage cheese for lunch with some nuts, maybe a fruit. Around 3pm, I'd get hungry and want something so I'd eat red peppers and carrots dipped in hummus. Sticking to the low glycemic index means that I've upped my fiber intake a bunch and due to that, I've been staying fuller longer and losing weight, too.

My first week, I found I'd lost six pounds and had gotten my blood glucose down to the 140's.

I've been sticking with this plan for three weeks now and had gotten my blood glucose down to 113 yesterday. I'm not out of the woods, heck I can't even see the light through the trees yet. But I wanted to write this up and share this story with everyone so that if they find themselves in a similar situation, they might find some guidance here. You don't have to just live with this. You can fix it yourself.

Now, as a matter of full disclosure, I've started a Metformin regimen two days ago and I'm doing that because the doctor has prescribed it and I figure it can only help. It has so far. This morning I reached a 107 with my blood glucose. And, on top of that, I've slimmed down from 193 lbs about 3 weeks ago to 183 this morning. Is that a lot? No. But it's a start. This isn't a sprint, it's a marathon.

Oh! And since I found some really startling foods are low glycemic index fodos, I really thought I was going to have a bad number when measuring my blood glucose this morning (you know, the 107?) but I didn't. Did you know Spaghetti was a GI of 27 for 2 cups of it? I ordered Shrimp Marinara last night at one of my favorite Italian places. I ate the shrimp (which have a GI of 0), the marinara sauce which is low, too, since it's tomatoes and other good stuff and only about ¼ to 1/3 of the spaghetti. And I still came in at a 107.

I'm not saying that I have a solution for you, if you are diagnosed with adult type 2 Diabetes. I'm not saying that my way will work for everyone, but if you find yourself in a similar place as me, you might also be able to hack your eating habits and begin to regulate your blood sugars naturally, too.

I wish you the best of luck.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I took this week off from my day job. After spending Columbus Day with the rugrats (we saw Hotel Transylvania and it was very, very cute) and spending yesterday doing chores (that I've been ignoring for far too long) around the house, I sat down this morning and cranked out about 10 pages of manuscript on THE SOUND.

I'm spending the remainder of today, Thursday and Friday writing while the kids are at school and hoping to get the last few remaining chores done around that. But I've got to say, I'm quite happy with my pace when I've got my earphones cranking John Coltrane and no distractions around. 10 pages in 3 hours is pretty darned good for someone who's stalled out so much lately. :)

See you again in a few. Keep watching that progress bar!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

An Explanation ... of sorts ...

I owe you some explanation. At least, I feel I do.
In previous posts (now very close to a year old), I made some commitments I thought I could meet. Life, as it always does, had other plans.

I won’t bore you with the details but I switched jobs and, in doing so, what free time I was counting on having last fall ended up shrinking as the past twelve months trudged by. In addition, I had to do some re-evaluating of my goals, when it came to my writing.

One night, I was sitting down with a good friend of mine, enjoying some early spring warmth and the conversation turned to my fiction writing. It often does with my friends. They know I’m passionate about fiction in an almost disproportionate measure when weighed against my blasé attitude towards the topics of Information Technology (which my day job revolves around). In other words, if someone gets me talking about a certain author or genre of fiction, my eyes tend to grow a bit wider, I speak more (and with greater fervor) than usual and I become giddy as a school boy.

My friend asked what I’d been working on. And I told him all about the projects I outlined last August: THE BOG, COMMUNITY, THE COMPLEX.

Knowing I’m rather lazy, he pointedly asked me about THE BOG. I explained to him I’d found nearly 60 pages of manuscript that I’d drafted in 2002 and wanted to polish up and finish. I thought it was great that I’d gotten a 60 page head start. Who wouldn’t want to hit the ground running and be ahead of the game, when it comes to writing a 300-400 page manuscript?

What my friend said next both irked the hell out of me and relieved me of a weight I’d been carrying for quite some time.

He turned to me, draining the beer in his hand and said, “Don’t do that. You’re not that guy anymore.”

And damned if he wasn’t right.

I’d been picking at THE BOG for a long time; every six to eight months, I’d pick up that manuscript and try to fidget with it some more. What I never realized is, I wasn’t trying to tell that story for a reason. I wasn’t that guy anymore. I wasn’t trying to tell that tale, I’d worked my way through whatever I was trying to do with it and it was now stale.

The same thing goes for THE COMPLEX.

I wrote THE TAKEOVER back in 2001. When I’d completed it, I had some issues with an apartment complex and wanted to work my way through venting about that situation. Again, I had a considerable bit of a manuscript (nearly 40 pages) and thought it would be awesome to take that work and finish it.

But again … I wasn’t that guy anymore.

So, my friends, I looked at my various files and pieces of started novels and began to re-evaluate who I was and what I was attempting to do with my writing.

And I thought long and hard on the subject.

The honest answer was: I didn’t really have too much to say anymore. I used to use my writing to vent about things I was going through and turn that anger on its ear and use it productively. That was ten years ago.

Now, I’ve got a wife and two kids and precious little free time to work on anything but homework with my children. On top of that, I’ve taken a teaching gig in my free time to augment our incomes. Sure, it’s fun and it’s fairly exciting to get in front of a roomful of students and discuss Information Technology and its security. But putting together a curriculum eats into my free time an awful lot.

So, my friends, I am sorry to say that I’m scrapping my previous commitments and have decided that restarting those old projects is not for me.

However, I’ve got two other new projects and I’m restricting myself to two so that I don’t start to overload myself. This means they will be attainable goals.

One novel is called THE SOUND and it’s a novel that I have a lot invested. It involves one of my favorite settings for a novel and the twists in the plot still get me excited.

The other novel I’ve just started and have completed an outline for is called A WHISPER IN DARKEST NIGHT. It’s a more personal story and deals with loss (a certain fan of mine will get a kick out of that) and life in a small town where everyone knows your business (but you).

Over to the right, you’ll notice a new feature of this site: I’ve added two word meters to show what progress I’ve made and I’ll be keeping them up to date while I work on both THE SOUND and A WHISPER IN DARKEST NIGHT.

I know that I’m disappointing some of you by not delivering on what I'd discussed earlier but I promise that what will come will most certainly be worth the wait.