Saturday, May 23, 2009

Story

The Diagnosis

Like many of us, through the years I have gained and lost a lot of weight. My weight chart looked like many stock charts (until the recent bear market), higher highs and higher lows. That all changed about four years ago when my weight simply continued upwards until I had reached 232 pounds in December 2008.

I will leave out most of the details except to say that in February 2009, I was hospitalized after what I thought was another bout of bronchitis. It turned out that my blood sugar was over 700 and I was suffering from diabetes. A nurse mentioned that I was close to going into a diabetes induced coma. Three days later I was discharged from the hospital with medications in hand.

The day I discharged I was on blood pressure meds, cholesterol meds, Actos and insulin. By far THE most disheartening prescription was the insulin, I had to measure my blood sugar and administer insulin (give myself shots) four times a day!!! Talk about your life changing events…... I was “scared to tears”, fearful of what lay ahead of me.

Good news, that was Wednesday, 2/18/2009. Today 5/23/09, I am medication free – no insulin, no Actos, no Blood Pressure meds, no cholesterol meds, ….”no nothing”. In the nex section I will discuss the next step…Surviving.

Surviving

I’m sure that first section had you mesmerized, hypnotized and craving more of the story....well, at least it got you this far. Ok, on with the story. After being discharged I went through the whole range of emotions including fear, anger and appreciation.

1) Fear...the hospital did a lousy job of providing me with information about my needs…before I get on my soap box I will stop here and just say that I needed a lot more info than the hospital provided….a lot more.

2) Anger...I had put myself in this situation. In the past, my primary nutritional plan was to skip breakfast and eat as much fatty protein and "bad" carbs as you can the rest of the day. Ok, it wasn't my plan but that is what I did. I knew it was wrong but I did it anyway. My exercise regimen was comprised of six daily trips to and from my car....pretty tough stuff. :)

3) Appreciation....to my stepmother Kathy and my niece Bridget, both are nurses and had they not been there for me, I honestly don't know if I could have survived. I know that sounds over dramatic and cliché' but it's the truth. The first two days after discharging I called them both numerous times with urgent, life challenging questions. As it turned out, they were not life threatening questions but that illustrates my point regarding a lack of information. For all I knew, my questions were life threatening. How many diabetics come home from the hospital (or doctor's office) with a diabetes diagnosis and have two nurses they can call at any hour of the day? …Not many. A home health nurse came out the next day, but I swear, she was no more help than the hospital...they hand you a food chart and think they are helping you.....

Over the next couple of days my sugar came down to the 144-220 range but these were still way too high. I was still taking (4) readings a day (pricking my fingers) and administering (4) shots a day. The pricks and shots were not painful, they weren't fun...the main reason I hated them is ... unless I wanted to go blind and destroy my internal organs, destroy blood cells etc ...I had to prick and poke myself four times a day!!! This aggravation was due to a LACK OF DIETARY AND NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION dispensed by the hospital! Had I been given proper information, it could have been avoided!! TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE PEOPLE!

At this point, I was surviving…but barely. I knew that I should eat from the basic food groups and that was about all I knew. I knew that I needed exercise…but how much? I was craving information and I did not know where to turn. I called my step-mother and niece a couple of times a day…but I hated bothering them with my questions….it wasn’t their job…they weren’t being paid for assisting. I survived for two days until my first doctor’s visit…it seemed like a week.

The Recovery

I visited my doctor two days after my discharge and he was encouraged by my progress and asked to see me again in a week. He suggested that I read a book on the Low Glycemic Diet, hinting at what I would find, he said, “it will provide nutritional information but it’s not really a diet….it’s a lifestyle change”. …was he ever right. Since my discharge, I had read everything I could find on nutrition (still do), so I picked up the book on the way home. I swear to you, as I read the pages it was like a nutritional epiphany…, I know this sounds exaggerated but to me it was a matter of life or death. I won't go over the details of the diet except to say in summary, eat veggies, whole grain foods, legumes (beans), lean meats and fruits....pretty simple right. Avoid non-whole grain breads, potatoes and ANYTHING FRIED!!!! Sigh, yes we must all give up our deep fried twinky pies. LOL!

A week went by and it was time for my next doctor's appointment. This time when I showed up, I had lost a little bit of weight, my blood sugars were consistently in the 90-120 range and I was feeling much better about myself. I attribute it all to the diet/nutritional change and my increased exercising program. At this point, the doctor was VERY ENCOURAGED and told me to keep doing what I'm doing. He added, "there is a chance you could reduce some of your meds/insulin." The doctor asked to see me again in two weeks. I was still required to read my blood sugars and take the shots every day.

During these two weeks, it gets real exciting…at least to me. I was now jogging and walking daily plus I was working out with heavier and heavier weights. Additionally, I was no longer having to take shots on a four times a day basis, just as needed. One night, I forgot to take my Actos and my overnight insulin shot…the next morning my sugar was 91 which was fantastic. Based on this result...the next day, I did not take the shot nor the pill on purpose, with the same result. From that point on, I stopped taking ALL MEDS.

Since day one, I was bound and determined to stop taking all of my medications. I had gotten myself into this mess, I can get myself out. By the time I went back to the doctor I had been off ALL MEDS AND INSULIN FOR SEVERAL DAYS and best of all, my blood sugar and blood pressure was staying within healthy ranges.

My doctor's visit - As you might expect, I was nervous about telling my doctor about my decision to quit taking all meds without consulting him. He came in after my vitals were taken and when I told him about my decision, he was calm but he said sternly, “I would not advise you to quit your medications cold turkey, it not safe…however, I am not going to suggest that you do anything differently BUT I want you to continue to monitor your sugar four times a day”. I was ELATED!

I was eating soooo “CLEAN”, that and the exercise had to be what contributed to my success. Had I been given this information day one in the hospital, I could have avoided many "readings" and many insulin shots....not to mention the mental anguish it would have saved me.

Transformation

My transformation actually began Day 2 in the hospital when I began curling the large Aquafina water bottles and walking around my room. That day I was told that I was diabetic and that I would likely be on insulin for the rest of my life. That day I decided that I would do everything I could to reverse this, that I would not be chained to the readings and the shots. Since that day in the hospital I have worked out and either walked or jogged, at minimum (5) days a week.

Also, I stuck to a strict diet, the first two months, never cheating. Over the last several weeks, I’ve had a hand full of French fries but I have not eaten white bread, cream potatoes nor anything fried. I used to “own” a seat at the local Bojangles and Mexican restaurant…haven’t eaten at either place since 2/15/08. ( I wonder if my absence shut them down????)

What I do eat: veggies, veggies, raw fruit (not canned), lean meat, fish, seafood, legumes etc etc. Additionally I eat whole grain bread a couple of times a week , a couple of eggs a week, whole grain pasta once a week and rice once a week.

Here are my stats:

2/18/09

5/23/2009

Notes

Wt

212

178

LOST 34 lbs

Ht

5' 10"

5' 10"

- no change …darn!

BP

150 / 90

118 / 68

Sugar

700

90-120

*** Running on average 6-8 miles, 5 times a week.

- highest - ran 10.6 miles on 5/15/09!!! (most ever)


Wrap Up

Obviously transformation is a life long process. I will continue to strive to learn as much as I can about nutrition, health and fitness but also I want to do my part to educate others.

Remember when I said that the lack of information was a big problem with my situation. As I speak to others diagnosed with Diabetes, that is a common thread that runs through many of their stories, I was not alone. Many of them had not heard of the Low Glycemic Diet or that there are “good” carbs vs “bad” carbs. This is very unfortunate and has lead to needless suffering, blindness and even early deaths.

I have found a fitness and nutritional program that covers all the basics and is endorsed by the American Diabetes Association if anyone knows someone that could benefit from this, let me know.

Take care and thanks again for reading this blog and allowing me to share with you.

Steve Cooksey
704-408-4773
cooksey.steve@gmail.com

http://www.facebook.com/cooksey.steve

http://twitter.com/stevecooksey

4 comments:

brackleyrn said...

Honestly, you are absolutely correct. I deal with people every single day who are diabetics. Some manage it quite well; others, well...that is another story. I guess until you come face to face with it, and it scares that living daylights out of you, you sort of brush it off. But, the truth is, diabetes is quite manageable with diet and exercise. You are a prime example. Many people fear insulin, but watching your diet and exercising helps to keep insulin far awa. Excellent blog by the way!

brackleyrn said...

Wow, you are a prime example of what I try to get across to my patients. I deal with diabetics every single day. Many are clueless as to what they should do, because they are not educated about it in the hospital. Some really don't think it is a big deal. But, I guess until you have a life-altering experience you don't take a whole heck of lot serious. I do commend you on how well you have done. The amazing thing that people don't realize is is that diabetes is quite easy to manage with diet and exercise. You are a true success story. Oh, and I love the before and after shots!

Anonymous said...

you should mention this is type 2 not type 1, and neither type is curabl, you got lucky

Bet you won't allow this to be posted!

Steve Cooksey said...

Comment on the comment above.

1) When I was discharged from the hospital...no one knew if I was type 1 or 2. Later, after I weaned myself off the drugs and insulin I was told that they "think" that I was a Type 2. Based on my most recent lab work a few days ago... they now "think" that I am a 1.5. My exact classification at this time is not "known".

2) Absolutely correct, neither Type 1 nor Type 2 is curable.

3) I got lucky. Absolutely correct. I was lucky...I was lucky I had the desire and drive to eat healthy seven days a week for seven months now AND I was lucky I had the desire and drive to exercise 6 out of 7 days a week.

Lastly, I was lucky that all the hard work paid off.

** Why would I not post this?????

Call me: 704-408-4773

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