Sunday, June 9, 2019

Retrospective #114: My Insulin-dependent Type 2 Pharmacist

When I was first diagnosed a Type 2 diabetic in 1986, my doctor gave me two prescriptions, one for an oral anti-diabetic drug (Micronase, a sulfonylurea), and another for a meter and test strips. Our local pharmacist was a friend, so I asked him for advice on which meter to buy. As we were looking at my choices, to my utter amazement he mentioned to me in passing that he was also a Type 2 diabetic – in fact, an insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetic.
Dick wasn’t especially fat. He was overweight but not more than “normal” for someone of our age. We were both in our mid-40s. Maybe what shocked me was that his disease had already “progressed” as far as it had. Maybe I was scared of becoming insulin-dependent too. Maybe that was Dick’s message. If so, it was a friendly “heads up,” and it worked. I never forgot it.
After buying my meter and start-up supplies from Dick, I went into a mail order program for ongoing drugs and supplies and never had occasion to discuss the disease we shared again. Twenty years later, Dick retired and moved to Florida. Seven year after that, in 2010, I read in the local paper that, “after a long illness,” my former pharmacist had died at age 72. His obituary didn’t say it, but in all likelihood, Dick died of heart disease, a common Macrovascular “complication” of the disease we shared. But it could also have been end-stage kidney disease.
I am telling this story because that is how I began writing about type 2 diabetes. I remember being surprised that he had allowed his disease to advance to the point where, in his mid-forties, he was already insulin-dependent. That was how his doctor “controlled” his Type 2 diabetes. I think Dick should have known better. The causes of morbidity and all-cause mortality that are associated with his “controlled” diabetes, as defined by the medical establishment as have an A1c of 7.0%, is a death sentence. His death was such a waste. It haunted me.
A few weeks after learning of Dick’s death, I was talking informally with the publisher of a local weekly newspaper who knew me (and I him) by reputation only. From many letters-to-the-editor (him) that I had written, he knew that I knew how to write, and he needed “content.” So, he invited me to write for him “on any subject.” Thinking of my friend Dick, the insulin-dependent type 2 diabetic pharmacist who never should have become insulin-dependent, I said that I wanted to write about Type 2 diabetes. I wanted to educate people so that they did not have to blindly follow the prescription for “control” that leads to more and more patients becoming maxed-out on oral medications – and then becoming insulin-dependentand then “progress” to the inexorable complications.
There is an alternative. Today, many practitioners and patients know that “progression” is not the natural or necessary or inevitable course of Type 2 diabetes, IF YOU TAKE CORRECTIVE ACTION. If you decide to take charge of your own health, you can beat this thing. You can avoid the complications of a “long illness.” And along the way, you will lose a lot of weight easily and greatly improve other health markers such as blood lipids (cholesterol) and high blood pressure, as you lose weight. And you’ll feel great. I am healthier today at 78 than I was when I retired 16 years ago. THE SIMPLE REASON: I changed from eating a “balanced diet” to a “Very Low Carb” diet.
The key to a healthy body is what you put into it. Whole foods are good. Avoid processed foods. Saturated and monounsaturated fats are good. Avoid industrial seed (vegetable) oils. If you are a little overweight, with marginal cholesterol, or mildly elevated blood pressure (symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome), you may well be Pre-diabetic, or even an undiagnosed Type 2. Ignore carbohydrate intolerance at your peril. You have a choice to make: if you continue to eat a “balanced” diet, die prematurely of a diabetes-related death, or wake up now and do something about it. I did. Dick died 7 years into his retirement, “after a long illness.” I was diagnosed a Type 2 thirty-three years ago and have been retired for 16 years, so far. I feel great, and clinically speaking, my diabetes is in remission. I did not become insulin-dependent, because I changed the way I eat and got my diabetes in control by diet alone.

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