The Incredibly Slowly Shrinking Writer
I’ve never had the kind of body anyone would call heroic. Even back in middle school when I was active (and generally not terribly good) in various sports. Back then I was usually short for my age (other than a brief exception in 7th grade when I shot up to what would turn out to be my full adult height, but within two years all but two of my classmates were taller than me, again), and was usually painfully scrawny. Then, in my twenties, Still the same height I’d been since the age of 14, I started gaining weight and generally started to look like many generations of short, round, bald, hairy men on my Dad’s side of the family. Yes, bald. my hairline starting receding around the age of 15.
Despite having more than a bit of a belly, for most of my thirties and forties I had excellent blood pressure and more than excellent cholesterol numbers. That was probably helped by the fact that for most of my adult life I’ve walked, a lot. I currently live about five miles from the location of my office, and most nights after work I walk home, rather than take the bus. Even when I’m feeling sick, I walk a couple of miles to get to a bus stop along the way.
Every male descendant of my paternal great-grandfather with whom I am in contact developed adult onset diabetes by their mid-forties. A few in their thirties. And some of them didn’t follow doctor’s advice when diagnosed, and suffered various awful complications. So fifteen years ago (at age 41) when I received the official pre-diabetic diagnosis, I vowed to take it seriously. I went to the nutritionist my doctor recommended. I mostly followed the diet—for fourteen years. We got so used to following it, that recently when the new consult changed it, my hubby and I keep forgetting we’re allowed to buy beef, now.
About ten months ago, my blood sugar went really bad, after hanging in the “higher than optimal, but still not diabetic” range, and I finally gave in and let the doctor start me on insulin. At least I made the it into my mid-fifties before it fully hit! The initial treatment is to start at a very low dose and start edging up as you get used to checking your blood sugar regularly and learn how your body reacts. Standard procedure is to see the doctor two weeks after starting to get evaluated.
Now, after only two days on insulin, both I and my husband noticed that I was much more energetic. I hadn’t noticed a long slow drag to my overall energy level and feeling of well-being over the previous few years. The most dramatic discovery though happened at that first follow-up visit. I had lost about 11 pounds in two weeks.
My regular pharmacist had been telling me during the previous couple of years while we tried various non-insulin medications, that in her experience, when the patient found the right treatment, lots of things improved, including the patient’s weight. I hadn’t believed her.
In the months since, I have been steadily having, at odd intervals, to tighten my belt another notch. My work slacks got so baggy I gave in a few months ago and bought a couple pairs of smaller pants. I’ve even had to adjust the wrist band for the iPod Nano that I wear as a watch. I never thought I had fat wrists, but apparently there was some to lose there, too. I had to change which finger I wear my grandfather’s ring on, because it fell off the old finger. My wedding ring, which was a very tight fit for the last few years, isn’t in that danger, yet, but it slides off without much effort now.
Make no mistake, I have a lot of weight still to use. When I look in the mirror, I still look just as fat to my own eyes as ever. But I hit another milestone today: I am on the last notch on this belt. Counting from the dent in the leather from the spot I was at for years, I’ve tightened this belt five times, now. It may be time to buy some smaller pants, again.
My new diet is still low carb, but I’m no longer doing the glycemic load calculation, where I get to have more carbs if I eat high fiber foods. Because doing that doesn’t keep my blood sugar down. The other change is that I’m allowed to eat fat again. I’m eating a much higher fat diet than I did for fourteen years, and only now am I losing weight. Also, my cholesterol never got bad, but it had left the unbelievably good range during that time I was pre-diabetic. But now that I’m on insulin, my cholesterol numbers are back to incredibly good. And remember, I’m eating more fat, now.
I’ve been feeling down a lot for the last two months because of these flu- and cold-like symptoms that would never completely go away. Yesterday, after another ten days on antibiotics (for the opportunistic bacterial ear-nose-throat infection on top of whatever the viral thing is) I finally felt better than “meh” after longer than I care to admit. I’m not feeling great, just okay.
But realizing this morning, when I tried to tighten my belt that I was actually having to pull it slightly past the last notch before it felt tight, that certainly was a great feeling!