Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Retrospective #178: “Diabetes Rocks!”

The late David Mendoza wrote a nice article for Health Central in 2014 titled “Grateful for Diabetes.” Another one that month was titled “Diabetes without Drugs.” Both were excellent and short, and I recommend you search for and read them. But my favorite line from both was the last words of the “Grateful” piece: “Diabetes rocks!”
Mendoza explains “grateful” this way: “Knowing that we have diabetes can be good for us. You may think I’m crazy,” he says, “but some of us are thankful that we have diabetes. I wish all of us could share this feeling.” Note: it is actually the feeling that he is grateful for, not the diabetes. It is his reaction to the knowledge that he is a diabetic. But, having that knowledge, what action was taken? Mendoza explains it with a story:
“Mary Ann wrote me a few months ago that when a doctor told her she had diabetes, she didn’t know anything about it. At first, she felt shock, fear, anger, and grief. Then, she realized that she ‘had to be the one to take control of it’ and went on a low-carb diet, which helped her both to lose weight and to reduce her blood sugar. ‘I’m actually grateful for the diabetes diagnosis,’ she told me [Mendoza]. It inspired me to take control of my health’’’ (emphasis mine).
Mendoza then goes on to describe how, “Mary Ann’s journey from a diabetes diagnosis to good health parallels his own journey” (and mine). At the time he was diagnosed, he says, “I had an A1c of 14.4, weighed more than 300 pounds, and lacked energy.” “Today,” he says, “I tested my A1c…and found it is 5.4. I weighed myself, as I do every morning, and found that I now weigh 155.6 pounds. I have more energy than I had 20, 30 or even 40 years ago.”
Isn’t that inspirational? Do you understand now why David Mendoza, and I, say, “Diabetes rocks!”?
In “Diabetes without Drugs,” Mendoza tells more of his personal story. The lede of this piece in Health Central, and on his own website, says flat out, “If you have Type 2 diabetes, you can manage it without any drugs.” Mendoza doesn’t pull his punches. This is an unqualified statement, and he is an exemplar, to be sure. I wish I did as well.
David Mendoza was diagnosed a Type 2 diabetic in 1993. He was treated by his doctor in the orthodox way for 14 years, with “experience taking a wide range of diabetes drugs, including two different sulfonylureas, Glucophage (Metformin), and Byeta” (a GLP-1 injectable incretin mimetic). Then in 2007, with encouragement from a friend who is a Certified Diabetes Educator, he joined “a group,” “and for the past six years I haven’t taken any diabetes drugs, and yet I keep my diabetes in control with an A1c level usually about 5.4. When you manage your diabetes well, it [your A1c] is well controlled. It is normal. We know that the normal A1c is 6.0 or below.”
“An A1c level of 6.0 or below means that your diabetes is in remission,” Mendoza says. “It does not mean that you have cured it. If you relax your vigilance, your A1c level will go above 6.0 again, and you will again put yourself at risk of the terrible complications of uncontrolled diabetes.”
Mendoza doesn’t explain in this piece what “the group” he refers to was, but I’ll venture a guess it was a group of people who were motivated to be educated and seek mutual support to, among other things, undertake a Very Low Carb Way of Eating. “Any lifestyle change this fundamental is difficult,” Mendoza admits. “I had to make three big changes in my life when I went off the diabetes drugs, and they are hard at first. But now they are a routine part of my life, and I would never go back to my old ways.
The changes that I had to make are those that almost everyone who has diabetes has to make. In order of importance, I had 1) to lose weight, 2) eat fewer carbohydrates, and 3) exercise more.”
As my readers know, my story is similar to Mendoza’s. I was diagnosed in 1986 and treated in the orthodox way with oral meds (3 classes, maxed out on 2)) for 16 years until my doctor suggested I try Very Low Carb (20 net carb grams a day) to lose weight. I had to drop the meds immediately and lost (at one point) over 180 pounds. My latest A1c was 5.6, but it has been as low as 5.0%. But I don’t do regular exercise. It makes me sweaty and hungry. LOL

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