Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Read, Set...

So here I sit getting ready to write my first post this year, and in fact, my first post in a long time. When I told Iris that I wanted to write about my diabetes and what I'm doing about it every week, I was immediately impressed with the enormity of the commitment. This is the point where I would normally stop myself and say, "Oh come on! You're never going to do this. Why are you committing to something that you know you won't deliver?”

Then I would back off the commitment.

But this time it was different! Spurred on by many a post that I've already read and the realization that I sit comfortably on my title as the dumbest smart-guy Mark (Teflon) knows, what have I got to lose by doing something else dumb. (In effect that would only further secure my title.) So, I decided to jump in.

Hey, let me be honest, I have some self-interest in this. If I have to report every week on my progress, I will be much more likely to stay with the program.

So gang here goes.
On September 25th I came down with a high fever and felt like crap. I found out that I had cellulitis, an infection of the tissue just under the skin on my right shin. When my doctor tested my white cell count, she got back results that showed my blood glucose level was over 350. (A normal person's blood sugar is under 100 and anything over 140 is officially diabetic.)

Now, not to be overly dramatic, a serious infection like I had makes your blood glucose shoot up, but over 350 is still a huge number. When the doctor told me I was diabetic, I was shocked. For the last 5 years I have been seeing a diet doctor who periodically takes blood from me for analysis. It turns out that my blood Glucose Level (BCL) has been over 140 for the better part of 18 months, but this guy never thought to inform me that I was diabetic.

Thank God for the GP who diagnosed my infection. I was hospitalized and put on IV antibiotics to treat the infection since, due to the diabetes, the circulation in my legs isn't good enough to deliver oral antibiotics there. While there I got a little education on diabetes management and was kept on a low-carbohydrate diet. To date, the magic formula for managing my diabetes is to have no more than 45 grams of carbohydrates per meal. Sugar is a type of carb. However, all other carbs eventually get turned into glucose as a part of the metabolic process. So, I need to manage all carbs.

After the few weeks it took for my infection to go away, my blood-sugar level came back to what's "normal" for me. Ever since then, I have had the job of managing my food intake so that I don't cause wide fluctuations in my blood sugar level and don't let it get too high.

However, to be clear, my real goal here is not simply to manage my diabetes; I am going to get rid of it altogether!

Therefore, the most important thing for me to do is to lose the extra 160-pounds that I carry everywhere I go. All that fat gets in the way of my body successfully metabolizing sugar. As a result, the leftover (unprocessed) sugar collects in my blood.

Further, by making my body work extra hard to assimilate sugars, my pancreas (the organ that produces the insulin that breaks down the sugars) is constantly stressed. Eventually it will give out and stop producing insulin. So, I am going to dodge that bullet by eating a diet that supports my health and losing the excess weight that is interfering with my body's metabolic process.

This says nothing of the physical stress all that blubber puts on me, but as Mark T has mentioned before, "One thing at a time."

For those that like charts, the one above shows what my blood sugar level has been ever since I was diagnosed. Starting next week, I will publish my BCL readings for the past week so that everyone can see how I've done. I will also share how I feel and what's come up for me along my journey.

Thank for being there to listen and for helping to hold me accountable.


  1. Hee Mark, You took the first step and wrote a blog about your dieting. Awesome! When you came by at Christmas, you looked healthier then in a while, and we were very pleased about that!
    How often do you measure your BCL? One a day? Three times a day? Do you do that by shooting a tiny hole in your finger and then dripping blood on glucose meter?
    I just bought myself a "air flow meter" so I can get a better understanding of how my allergies influence my breathing. I hope this will help me figure out which foods to avoid. Your graph does inspire me to do something with that.
    Anyway, don't stop sharing or doing your low carbohydrate diet. I'm cheering you on from the sideline...

  2. Mark,
    You did it! Congratulations! It's a new year's miracle!

    Thank you for stepping up to this and for sharing so openly. I join you on your weight-loss goals, but that would require me to go negative. Nonetheless, I'm with you on cutting the carbs and simple sugars. We'll join you in solidarity.

    Please don't feel the need to wait until Tuesdays to post. If you find inspiration or something you really want to share, post it!

    Looking forward to your great success and providing Harwood a chance to retake the title.


  3. Hi Mark,
    I don't know you, but I am eager to follow your journey and I will also be cheering you on from the virtual sidelines!

    My Dad was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago, and since then he has lost a lot of weight and kept his blood glucose level in the range of normal through diet and exercise alone. It CAN be done! And YOU can do it!

  4. Thanks for taking us along on your journey to better health, Mark. I know a couple other people who worked on their diabetes issues, and each had their own methods - combinations of managing and overcoming, and would love to see how you do it, and to cheer you on along the way.

    (And on a personal note, I've decided to raise my intake of salads. Moo!)


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