What I Don’t Know About Diabetes Could Fill an Encyclopedia

Diabetes

May 12

We’ve been writing about diabetes and metabolic illness for some time now. Many of the recipes are hypoglycemic, especially our vinaigrettes, and our recipes use alternative sweeteners. We’ve even invented a Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin (A Texas Sized Muffin) that raises blood glucose levels less than 15 points. And we wrote a very important article about AGE’s or Advanced Glycation End-Products and the gunk they produce in your body, while covering diet and supplementation needed to fight AGE’s as well as how to fight the damage done by the MG metabolite that comes into play with type two diabetes.

All this while I had convinced myself that I was maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. I’ve supplemented with anti-inflammatories that are also hypoglycemic. Before a meal, I’d eat a sour pickle made with herbs that were both hypoglycemic and anti-inflammatory. I’ve stayed active, playing tennis, rebounding, lifting weights. I thought I was in good health because I supplement and I try to keep a low-ish carb diet, while experimenting with hypoglycemic recipes. I’ve had guests who are diabetic and they always tell me that when they stay with me they use about 40% of the insulin they would have normally used, so I thought I must be doing well.

Oh, and those A1c commercials on TV? I ignored them for years because when I researched the drugs they were recommending, I found out that the drugs WERE KILLING THE PATIENTS!!! So I never learned what A1c was because the cure for it had the minor side effect of death.

That is until recently. I’ve since learned about Metformin (its history actually goes back to 1918), which isn’t killing people. But I’d already lost interest in this A1c stuff . . . and that was a huge mistake.

My overall health has not been all that good lately. The pandemic put weight on me. I hated the term “morbidly obese” so I asked my doctor to note: pandemically plump.

Then my PTSD began acting up. When people around you are dying due to stupidity and incompetence, it’s just like war again. The VA put me on some great drugs, which helped, but put me in a weird position with one doctor telling me to lose weight and the other giving me drugs that put it on.  So again, I just gave up.

There is no way to diagnose long-haul COVID, but I might have it. Some of you who know I’ve been working with a solution that cures COVID (though I do not publish this because the FDA would shut me down, AND there are way too many whackos out there touting the craziest cures you’ll ever hear. . . (please, when you’re in a pandemic, trust the authorities) and you are probably wondering how I got long-haul COVID. Well, not everyone is on the internet.  We should all know this. And people older than me are not smartphone savvy. So, yours truly visited well over fifty homes with the “solution” and gave them instructions (order a nebulizer, do it all day long!) and support, and sometimes I went out of my way to order the nebulizers from Amazon because in Minnesota buying one requires a prescription. Long story short, I caught “the bug” 5 or 6 times. Sure, I used the solution in a nebulizer to get over it, but all those times I’d had it, it did its damage. My lung capacity/efficiency has shrunk. Any heavy walking requires oxygen. Sucks, surely, but I helped save a few lives.

Our page on Chronic Inflammation has grown over the years into a Russian novel, as my proofreaders tell me. And I’ve had some trouble keeping my inflammation index down. Yes, I have obesity related inflammation, but on my last visit to my doctor, he reminded me that I also have stress related inflammation. And, I guess he’s right. My PTSD never really goes away. And it was intensified by the pandemic. So there’s that to work with.

Add to all this that I’d recently been admitted to the hospital with a PTSD emergency and my blood pressure was 211/111, so I’m quite lucky to still be here.

No, I do not want to live forever. But I know that most writers do their most brilliant work in their seventies. So, sure, let’s make it to eighty . . . but that ain’t gonna be easy.

Now get this:

With all the things I’ve been doing to keep my blood sugar levels low, at my checkups, all I’d hear is: Your blood sugar is a bit high today.

So I kept up my regimen; made sure I had enough pickles in the house and supplements to keep my blood sugar from spiking. Big deal: blood sugar a bit high. I incorporated 500 mg of L-Carnosine and added a carb blocker. No big deal, right. For the past 10  years, I’ve heard, “Your blood sugar is a bit high.” So I just kept up my regimen.

This time, however, the VA had a captive audience. I was in lock-down. They took blood samples daily, and I met with my team daily. They didn’t like my lipid levels and I told them that I’d read Ancel Keys’ study, read the Congressional hearings, and that the science was horrible, the lipid hypothesis was worthless, and I’ve got statistics that show people with lower cholesterol levels are more likely to have a heart attack than people with high cholesterol levels (really  depends on who’s putting out the statistics too). Then they hit me with my glucose levels, and I told them how I eat and how my recipes are hypoglycemic and perhaps my numbers will go down when I get home again.

Saying that opened the clouds and the sun broke in.

“These results are not from a single day, but a three month period.”

Could’a knocked me over with a pickle. I told them I’d never heard of that. And if it’s the case, put me on whatever drug you want.

I learned later that the drug was Metformin. I knew the name from the A1c commercials. But I still did not know what A1c was.

Additionally, my blood pressure was not coming down, and I agreed to go on BP meds, but that I would get home and find the nutritional cost of the drugs so I could supplement. The pharmacist was walking away from our meeting when I tapped him on the shoulder with a couple of questions.

I started out: “I realize that when I’m suddenly hit with three prescription medicines (this would be four now) that all the double blind studies go out the window.”

He stopped me there saying, “Yeah, they do, don’t they.” It wasn’t a question.

“So,” I continued on, “in your experience, how do the drugs I’m about to take work together? Any complications?” He looked at his paperwork, and told me that this combination is very common, at the VA, he added. Especially the anxiety meds for veterans. He said told me most tolerate the combination well, but should something happen, I’d be advised to call in.

It was a rough time being locked up. My PTSD hit big. I’ve told this story way too many times, but . . . here’s the long story short:

I hired a housekeeper who was basically homeless. I allowed her to sleep here on my beanbag pillows. Because of her back and the metal and screws in it, it was a perfect setup. She told me that she was able to get a full night’s sleep and wake up without pain sleeping that way. But after a while I began to realize she was severely mentally ill. She’d left an abusive situation, and I felt very protective of her. I didn’t like her driving back into that environment, and she was constantly late.

I’m a combat vet. When someone says they’ll be here at such and such time, and they’re not there, the only reason they were not there is that they were dead. What’s learned in combat is never forgotten. Every combat vet I know suffers from this. We do not understand being late and not at least giving a call. EVERYONE HAS A CELL PHONE. I even bought her one just for that reason. It came to a head one day and we had a blow out, and I finally settled down saying, “And the only reason I’m angry as hell is that when you are late, because of all the assholes in your life, I worry. I worry about you.”

It was an under exaggeration. The reality? I get panic attacks.

So she said she’d call.

Then fifteen minutes away, okay, thirty the way she drives, she called me one night saying she was leaving. She got home three and a half hours later. I spent a couple of weeks rigid from panic attacks, mostly in bed, taking sleep aids. My brother called and said that he’d been to my website and he’d seen that my business address was in Grandy, Minnesota. “Where’s that?” he asked.

“It’s two miles from here by car, three hours by housekeeper.”

On top of her driving me nuts by never being where she was expected to be at the time she was expected, things in the house started doing the same thing. I’m a chef. I need my tools. They kept disappearing. She would find them and I’d tell her to please keep them where I put them. But everything began going missing and this all culminated with an errand I had to run. I got to my destination and my hearing aid batteries needed changing. I looked all over the car for the blue soap dish I kept my tiny kit in, consisting of batteries, and supplies, cleaning tools, etc. Nowhere to be found. And then, since there still was this pandemic running loose, I looked for my mask and found only one that was broken, and fit over one ear. I looked in the glove box, but nothing.

Yes, as a person with PTSD, I have anger issues. I’ve taken anger management courses. Not sure what good it does you when your anxiety levels are up and everything you need is missing . . .  and then this. I drove home angry. There was ice and snow in my driveway. I didn’t drive fast, I drove angry. Coming around a corner, I hit a patch of snow and ice and totaled my car on a tree. I refused to blame her. I blamed my anger and I sat down and found a site on the web and went over the steps of how to handle anger and for the next two weeks . . . where are my kitchen scissors? doesn’t matter, I’ll use a knife. Where are my Tupperware tops? No matter, I’ll use aluminum foil. “My large spoon? no matter, I’ll use this. Everything was fine. (Found my Tupperware tops in the linen closet.)

And then things started breaking. My phone holder in the car, smashed to bits. (She didn’t know how that had happened.) I’d just installed a $30K bathroom, with Alexa lights and music, a super walk in tub with bubbles and heat and light. In the corner, over the tub was a plastic shelf to hold soap. Cracked in half. Toilet seat, broken. Sink broken. Toilet leaking. Eight thousand dollar tub, leaking.

Panic attacks are increasing. She’s off on a half hour errand, arrives 3 to 4 hours late. I’m sleeping. I’m out of the meds they’d given me earlier. I come out for meals and I go back in. I heard about the damage in the new bathroom, took a look, and told her she needs to shower upstairs. Meanwhile, the house is going to hell. She was hired to do housekeeping, but the kitchen is a mess, with great piles. She like piles. So, she piled things. The carpet needed vacuuming, but the last time I saw her vacuum it was the same spot, over and over for an hour. And I did video her outside one day, whacking at things with a stick for two hours, afterwards, I caught bits of her, between outbuildings, sweeping the leaves. She wasn’t moving them anywhere, she just swept the tops, over and over. Oh, and she destroyed the old-wood patina over my fireplace. She rubbed and rubbed for hours to get out the little black specks . . . that were getting in her feces.

She had wanted to get together with friends on a Friday night. Around ten, she told me. She was in the shower around 12:30 (she has no sense of timing) and she made the loudest racket I’ve ever heard in a shower and I watched her through the security cameras loading the car and getting even more prepared, which took another 45 minutes, and then I watched her drive off.

In the morning I awoke and went in to shower only to find she’d ripped the shower head off the wall. 

Now, my blood pressure had gotten dangerously high the previous week. My anxiety was out of sight and I had no more drugs, so I really wanted to see a doctor, and soon.

I didn’t have a car. She had it. I had no way to get to see a doctor. But I quickly found out that if you call the sheriff up and tell him: “I’ma kill myself and take that bitch with,” they move you to the head of the line.

I found myself in the hospital emergency room, albeit locked in, within a very short time. The nurse taking my blood pressure took a look at the numbers, and then did a double take. It was 211/110. I looked up at her, “Crash cart?” She laughed.

I have some pretty good friends. Two of them were there at the hospital within an hour of my arrival. One was driving up from Texas. They were all going to make sure this gal packed her stuff and was out of there.

But back at the ranch, she wouldn’t let anyone touch “her stuff” and threatened to call the sheriff if they did. She put it all in my barn and fastened a lock on the door.

My buddy who had arrived from Texas called and said he needed money to put her up in a hotel room for one night. I sent it to him. After that she quickly found out she was on her own, though she seemed to expect my friends to pick her up and ferry her somewhere. Instead, he went through her stuff finding my stuff. Approximately $2,000 worth of my property was found stashed away in “her stuff.”

I’m not a materialist. I could give a crap about “things,” but I am a utilitarian. Things have their use. She’s the second housekeeper to walk off with my Canon Stabilizing Binoculars. But this time, we found them in her “stuff.”

Part of her mental illness, obviously, is kleptomania. Eighty percent of what she took I would have gladly given her had she asked.

I was transferred to the VA once they got my blood pressure under control. It was so high they didn’t want to risk me coding in the ambulance on the way over. I should tell you that I really did not need to be there because losing it, and screaming at the sheriff and the world was very therapeutic. It was like electroshock therapy. It calmed me down and my sense of humor started coming back. But, I’d exhibited psychotic behavior and they wanted to make sure I would be safe to both myself and others before being released.  

At my daily meetings with my team, my nurse would ask, “Any thoughts of suicide?” and I’d answer, “Only when the food arrives.”

At our last meeting, she leaned over to me and asked, “Any thoughts of harming someone else?” I leaned back whispering, “Who’d you have in mind?”

I was finally let loose and told that they’d set an appointment to see my regular physician within a few days, and I love this guy (my regular physician). I’ve talked about him before. He went to a university that focused on nutrition. And he’s not just a physician, he’s a teacher. He’ll always put aside time to teach and I was dying to know about this “three month image of my blood glucose levels.”

When the day finally arrived, they found my blood pressure slightly raised. Keep in mind that nearly 10 years ago, they raised the bar on blood pressure for people my age, okay, “seniors.” 150/80 is the new normal, at my age. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1511939

When Dr Johnathan Van Arsdale walked in, we shook hands like we were old friends. I asked if he knew about my current situation, he smiled and said, “A bit of excitement.”

Now I can’t remember where we went first, but I told him I’m tired of everyone trying to put me on cholesterol lowering drugs. I told him statistically those with lower cholesterol have heart attacks at a rate greater then people with high.

That raised his eyebrows. He had different statistics, and I told him I got mine from Scandahoovian countries (we call them that here) and that I did not trust the stats from anyplace that kisses the asses of the pharm industry. And again I said the lipid hypothesis is just bad science. And then I added that cholesterol is actually an anti-inflammatory lipid. That perked him up. He said that medicine is now looking at cholesterol as lifesaving, to a degree. Inflammation is what damages the arteries and cholesterol comes along to patch the area. The problems is oxidized cholesterol hardening and forming plaque.

I replied, “Well that’s fantastic,” but left out the “because I wrote about that in my book Bypassing Bypass in 2004.” I don’t like to brag. So I asked him about this blood sugar thing. How can they get a reading over the past three months.

And he explained it perfectly. “You see, blood carries glucose throughout your body, and insulin helps the glucose get into cells that need it. Your red blood cells have glucose receptors. Blood cells require glucose for energy. But when the system gets fouled up, insulin resistance will keep that glucose in your blood vessels too long and it will bond with red blood cells. And since red blood cells have a three months lifespan, what they’re measuring is the percentage of red blood cells that have bonded with glucose and yours in 9.5%.”

“And what is a healthy level?”

“We want to see it get to 6.5%.”

“How come I’ve never been told this before?”

“We screwed up. Every person who is prediabetic should have been told this at one time or another. This percentage is called A1c. Yours is 9.5.”

“So that’s what A1c is!” and I immediately went off on why it never interested me but holy shit am I interested now, and I went home kicking myself in the arse at regular intervals, and then went online only to discover that my research into AGE’s, Advanced Glycation Endproducts, was just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the process of glucose bonding with red blood cells.

Here is what I found at the NIH:

Glycosylated Hemoglobin Test (Hemoglobin A1c)

Hemoglobin is the substance inside red blood cells that carries oxygen to the cells of the body. Glucose (a type of sugar) molecules in the blood normally become stuck to hemoglobin molecules – this means the hemoglobin has become glycosylated (also referred to as hemoglobin A1c, or HbA1c). As a person’s blood sugar becomes higher, more of the person’s hemoglobin becomes glycosylated. The glucose remains attached to the hemoglobin for the life of the red blood cell, or about 2 to 3 months.

A blood test can measure the amount of glycosylated hemoglobin in the blood. The glycosylated hemoglobin test shows what a person’s average blood glucose level was for the 2 to 3 months before the test. This can help determine how well a person’s diabetes is being controlled over time.

So, to put it in layman’s terms, blood carries the glucose from your meal after it’s been broken down, and your gut releases a hormone (Glucagon-like peptide 1, or GLP-1) that triggers the pancreas to release insulin, but if you’ve had high blood sugar for a while, everything is clogged up, your body is resistant to insulin and resistant to leptin. Leptin helps you burn up the energy you’ve eaten and tells you when you’re full, but if resistant, you’re always hungry. And when you’re insulin resistant, the glucose stays in your blood longer (aging and less activity help mess things up) the sugar will attach permanently to your red blood cells and they become, as stated above, glycosylated. When we wrote about AGE’s I had no idea that this same process could happen to our hemoglobin and now, this process  has occurred in my body and I am officially diabetic.

I’m currently performing one hell of a lot of research because I have to beat this if I want to make it to eighty years old. Dammit…there’s got to be at least one more short story in me and who knows? it could take 8 years to come out.

When I started this research, I ordered a blood glucose meter and to tell you the absolute truth, the readings have scared the hell out of me. I don’t allow sugar in my home, my foods are anti-inflammatory and hypoglycemic. Who knew that it was my PTSD, the PTSD meds, mixed with aging and less activity and I’m overweight, hyperglycemic, and about ready to code?

So for now, I’m following doctors’ orders, I’m adding supplements to my routine (more supplements) and I’m taking my blood sugar readings about six times a day. I don’t expect any overnight successes. Let’s face it, this didn’t happen overnight and it ain’t going away overnight. I’m in it for the long haul and I’ll be writing an article later on what worked, what didn’t, and hopefully I’ll stick around long enough to treat you all to some great stories.

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