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Saturday, September 23, 2017

48 going on 79

When I started apheresis therapy a few years ago, after having a heart attack at 32 and requiring a double bypass a mere eleven years later, they scanned my carotid arteries. The doc told me I had the arteries of an 80 year old. I'm not going to claim to have led life as a health food nut or gym rat, but when genetics dealt the cards in the big Texas Hold'em game of longevity, my hole cards say 'just fold.'

So anyway, I've continued to let them filter my blood fortnightly, it takes half a day out of my life twice a month and even though I have what passes for good insurance in America these days, I have a team of lawyers faunching at the bit to burn my life to the ground over my medical bills. It's putting a serious crimp in my ability to ever, even theoretically, retire, but then if I don't live to be a senior citizen the question of retirement is moot. But that's not what I came here to talk to you about.

This past June, the doc at the apheresis clinic asked me casually who I saw about my diabetes. He'd just drawn labs, and I was like, I didn't know I was diabetic.

Your liver enzymes aren't fabulous either, how much alcohol do you drink? was his response.

So I've been trying to cut back on the booze but even more than that, I've been watching carbs, sugars, all that jazz. And taking the Metformin he wrote for. I lost about 25 pounds in a couple of months, then plateaued. And overall I feel better for the changes, though (and I would have thought this impossible) I've had some withdrawals that feel a lot like when I quit smoking around giving up those carbs. I love good beer, and what makes good beer good is, aside from hops, mostly carbs. I've tested my blood sugar before and after a variety of inputs, and good beer is a problem. So is the off-dry mead I made most recently. Dry red wines seem to be fine, and the hard stuff, Scotch, rum, tequila, that sort of thing, if anything that drops my blood sugar. My most recent mead, which finished slightly sweeter than I usually get, is a problem. It's only about 2% sugar according to the hydrometer, but a five ounce glass was enough to send my blood sugar out of range and I'm typically someone who drinks more like a liter of that stuff at a go.

And I had no idea how much I fucking love bread.

So my family got together the other day on account of my 48th birthday. A follow up scan showed some improvement on my arteries, but I figure being diabetic to boot erases that on the longevity game. But while the doc only wrote a script for Metformin and told me I didn't need to monitor my blood sugar numbers, I'm like fuck that, I am taking an active interest in this. I'm probably not willing to swear off beer judging and mead making but I'm also not willing to give up a foot over those things. So I've been checking a few times a day.

And while the birthday dinner was relatively friendly as far as low-glycemic foods: I had burnt ends from Jack's Stack (probably rubbed with a sugary rub and definitely sauced with a sugary sauce) and an enormous salad. And then pie. I've never been a big birthday cake fan, I think I was maybe nine when I thought to ask my Mom if I could have lemon meringue pie instead of Duncan Hines cake. I had a sliver of lemon meringue and a sliver of pecan for my 48th and a half hour later my blood glucose was 250, the highest number I've seen since I started testing.

But then, when I look at what I routinely ate before being diagnosed, I'm sure I tripped numbers like that almost daily before finding out about the problem.

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