Hitting my stride in the Journey

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It has been a bit since I’ve updated you on my Diabetes Journey. School has been busy. Lots to do. You know, all the excuses for not writing.

Way back when I started teaching in 2003, I had an “emergency weight.” You know that weight that when you hit it, the clothes stop fitting right, and it’s either go into the high gear diet or buy new clothes. Over the years, I’ve blazed past my “emergency” weight and set one 20 pounds higher. Once I hit that “emergency” weight, I pretty much faced the fact that I was 50ish and losing weight was going to be really tough and probably not worth it.

All you have to do is look at BMI charts to realize that you’ll never get down to that magic number that takes you from your currently “obese” number, through the “overweight” numbers to the holy grail “normal” numbers. I’m 6’0″. I have to get down to 184 to be “normal” BMI. When I shared that number, Amy asked, “Don’t I get a say in this? 184 is way too skinny.” I tend to agree. In all of the reading I’ve been doing, another measure of health is for your waist doubled to be less than your height. I need work on that one too.

But, I dug into this change of lifestyle. And, I’ll tell you this, I’m thankful for my diagnosis. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve never met a cookie, donut, or other baked item I couldn’t call a friend. I’ve never been on a diet where I couldn’t find an excuse to go ahead and have just one, even if that meant just one in the morning, one at lunch, and one after school. Besides, when you’re on a diet, you can just get back to it tomorrow. I call it the “Scarlett O’Hara Diet” because, after all, tomorrow is another day. Diabetes has completely changed all of that.
It just isn’t tempting to cheat on my lifestyle change. It has become very easy to turn down carb-laden food. For whatever reason, my glucose meter numbers motivated me light years beyond my scale’s numbers.

The funny thing about that is that once the glucose numbers were motivating me, the scale’s numbers started dropping. Since January 4th, DD Day (Diabetes Diagnosis Day), I’ve lost over 30 pounds and I’m currently under my original “emergency” weight. I’ve left Obese BMI behind and am seriously considering going for “normal”, not that Amy will love that. My morning fasting BS is consistently around 90-100. I’m very much looking forward to my follow-up appointment with my doctor to get patted on the back for finally heeding her warnings.

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Ignore the Warnings

Here I am on the second snow day in a row. Are they really “snow” days if we are off because of sub-zero temps? Hmmm, anyway, lots of time to think. Still in the early days of this diagnosis + Nehemiah study + time to think = what follows.

In the Old Testament, you see over and over where the Jews are close to God, get comfortable, get warned, get punished. That’s pretty much how my diabetes went. Originally healthy. Ate what I wanted. Exercised if I felt like it. Easier to buy bigger clothes than diet and exercise. Several A1C readings that screamed “PRE”-diabetic warnings. Lots of family history. Eat whatever I want because I’m only “PRE”, ie. ignore the warnings. Go back one more time and lose the “PRE” and get punished.

So, why am I mixing all of my diabetes stuff and the Bible together? Because the world is currently ignoring the warnings. We are in “PRE-Second Coming.” We are being warned constantly. We’re comfortable so we ignore the evidence. Ignore the warnings. Politicians making abhorrent behavior the law. People living as if there will be no judgment. Scoffing at events in the Middle East that fulfill Bible prophecy.

Probably sooner than later, “PRE”-Second Coming is going to turn into Second Coming. Here’s where the split happens in the analogy. When “pre” left for me, I am able to combat it with a new way of eating and exercise. When the more important “PRE” changes, it will simply be too late.

The First Few Steps

Last time we caught up, I told you that I had started the journey of being diabetic. Yippee. I’m a couple of weeks in now and wanted to write some things down.

As I said, there is a lot of conflicting information out there. I’ve been trying to go on strictly watching the carbs to begin with. I’ve also made sure I’m regularly at the gym on the treadmill for now. Once I hit a weight that I have in mind, I’ll work in some lifting. Someone associated with my doctor finally called to set up an appointment to talk to me about managing this and nutrition, etc. Of course, they are only open M-F 9-4. Convenient for retired people.

In just these couple of weeks, I feel so much better. I’ve cut out processed sugar, as far as I know. I’m sure there is some sneaking in from somewhere. Diet Mountain Dew and other “low-calorie”, fake sugar are gone. I’m down around 11 pounds and I’m sleeping great. This is the best I’ve felt regarding my energy for a very long time.

Amy, along with others I spend time with, are saying I’m being a little to militant about it. My A1C just inched up enough to be considered diabetic and no longer “pre-diabetic.” But, I don’t really see any other option for me. I have to go full force at something and really turn it into a habit, almost second nature, before I’m going to stick to it. If I slide one thing in here and there but feel like my sugar is ok and the weight is still dropping, I’m just going to sneak more stuff in till I’m back to where I was.

I’m fortunate that I love green vegetables. Broccoli, spinach, kale, yum. Salmon and tuna, oh yeah, baby. Love them. So, this should be easier for me than some. In fact, I’ve been using Myfitnesspal app to log all of my food, and by the end of the day, I’m usually at a deficit of 700 or more calories because I just don’t want any more food. On one hand that’s great, but in the long run, I’m not so sure.

Did I mention that I love candy/donuts/bread/pretzels/potatoes, you know, CARBS!! So, yeah, it’s a battle.

Also, believe all that stuff they say about being thirsty. Crazy how dry my mouth gets.

Many of the changes I’ve made have been bad habits. Food is social for me. It’s also ritual for me. Sometimes it’s a reward for a long day. Going somewhere that’s going to be an hour, stop and grab a Little Debbie Fudge Round for the drive. Anywhere near German village? Stop and grab a few Buckeye Donuts. Empty nesting dinner? Absolutely, let’s just run somewhere and get something. It’s so much simpler than cooking. Those are the kinds of things I have to break, habits, rituals, social eating

So…so far, so good. Feel better. More energy. Losing weight. Now, I just need to make it through the first plateau.

New Journey

My doctor has been telling me for a very long time. My family history: brothers, mother, grandmother, has been telling me too. I don’t know why I didn’t heed those warnings. I think every time my blood was checked and the doctor added “pre” to the diagnosis, I thought, “See, no big deal.”

And then, my A1C climbed just high enough to drop the “pre.” I am now considered diabetic. Of course, with that also came the “control it with diet and exercise and you won’t need medicine” speech. OK, I guess it’s time to get serious about this. This is no longer a diet to lose a few pounds before vacation. This is now time to turn my diet into something that will prolong my life and increase the quality of my life.

Delicious, salted caramel Fantasy cupcake

Bread. Donuts. Fantasy cupcakes, homemade goodies from my students. I love them. Pretty sure, other than family history, that’s why I’m in this mess. This is not going to be an easy transition.

Supposedly, I’m going to be contacted by somebody associated with the doctor who can walk me through this and give me some guidance. In the meantime, I’ve been researching it online. And then it gets really confusing. If I’m on a journey, then, the Internet is not a very good GPS. Really, what I want is a list. Just a simple list that says to eat this, don’t eat that, and eat that sometimes. I found one. Then I found one that contradicted that one. Then I found another one that said they were both wrong because some carbs are different than other carbs.

Forget staying away from carbs said another. Glycemic Index is the key. OK, so give me a list with the best foods to eat and avoid. Well, we would, but the REAL key is glycemic load. Watermelon, for instance, is high on the index, but low on the load. Wheat bread, aka The Devil, is actually low on the load list too, so ignore what that other site said about all the carbs in bread. One site says never eat another apple, but another says they are perfectly fine to eat. Don’t ever eat beans except for green beans or snow peas. Then that other site raves about them being a great option. Oh, and did I mention that none of what the site says might matter? Because on another site, it says everyone is different, and I need to take elaborate blood readings and document the foods I eat and what impact it has on my blood sugar two hours later. Then, and only then, will I get a good idea of what I should and shouldn’t eat.

In other words, make your own stupid list.

What did people do in the old days? You know, before the Internet. Before the entire world of information, good and bad, could be found at your fingertips.

“But can you live with her?”

That was the answer my dad gave me over 30 years ago after I answered, “I can’t live without her” to his, “Why do you want to marry her?” I remember right where we were, standing on Putnam Street in Marietta outside a small jewelry store.  Even as the young, foolish kid I was, I knew at that moment I had had a brush with wisdom.

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One of my favorite photos of Amy. From the year I met her at MVNC.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if the answer was “yes”.  We were both young, sub 20.  We occasionally fought like cats and dogs, fitting because she loved cats and I loved dogs.  We had broken up more times than I had fingers on one hand.  But, oh, I absolutely ached in my heart when she was in Canal Winchester and I was in Marietta in those pre-cellphone/facetime-REAL-long-distance dating days. (Kids today have no idea).

So, ignoring the wisdom of his question, I, of course, answered, “I think so.”  I know. Ringing endorsement filled with confidence.

Jump forward several months to May 16, 1987, 30 years ago today…we were married. We should have known that first year was going to be a rocky journey after that wedding.  We got maybe two things right; my brother Karl performed the ceremony and she liked her veil. hated the headpiece, but liked the veil. The rest of it? We

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Amy and her sister, Meghan

look back on and shake our heads. If we were to do it again, we would have taken her dad’s cash offer to just elope.  It would have been an Elvis wedding chapel in Vegas. We would have loved it.

When we moved into our first apartment in Bowling Green, everything we owned, except the Ford Escort, fit into a nice pile in the tiny living room. Kids were moving out of dorms and apartments for the summer, so we scavenged couches and other furniture from the trash.

By Christmas, we were making plans to just get through the holidays and then tell our families we were done and ending it in January.  However, there was some kind of magic that Christmas.  We were reminded of what made us love each other in the first place.  So instead of ending it in January, we were fixing it.

Since this is a blog and not a book, I’ll skip to the important part.

I’d love to say that we have had 30 wonderful years together.  That would be a total lie.

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You’ve already captioned this in your mind, so I’ll just leave it right here.

Some of those early years were miserable. It seemed that maybe we couldn’t live together after all. But, we fought through them together, and we came out the other side best friends, united, and committed. I give her and God all the credit.  I’m difficult at best to deal with.  Her Grandma Ogier knew that the first time she met me; “that Kyle sure is a smart alec.”

I am blessed with a woman who knows that Christ is her Savior and when we were at our worst, she turned to God to get us through it. She is the voice of reason to my impulsivity. She is the calm to my storm. I can’t imagine my life with anyone else.  EVERY day, I look forward to getting home to see what we’re up to that evening.  And it doesn’t really matter what it is as long as it is together.

So, Dad, I’d like to change my answer to, “Yes, I most certainly can live with her.”

Happy anniversary, Amy! Here’s to 30 more.

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My best friend

Why I’m not excited about the Walking Dead return

I want to be excited.  I want to look forward to The Walking Dead returning February 14.  I’m just not.  My wife and I enjoy watching it together, and when I told her of my malaise at its return, she was disappointed.  I tried to explain.  I’m a language arts teacher with a previous communications degree for crying out loud.  I ought to be able to figure out why.  So I tried to verbalize the issue.

It came down to this; there is no hope for the characters.   There was hope when Eugene was on the way to Washington with the cure.  There was some hope when they were safe at the farm or the prison or Alexandria. The cycle of finding sanctuary and losing it is getting monotonous. Right now there is just no hope that this will ever end. Not even a glimmer.

And now we are introduced to yet another vile, perfectly evil character, Negan.  If this follows the comic storyline, we should all be prepared for senseless mayhem, torture, and death to come to many of our beloved survivors.  I hear people say that certain characters are “untouchable”.  “If (insert character) dies, I’m never watching it again.”  I was like that for awhile.  Now, Negan can end any of them.  I don’t care. It just doesn’t matter which one because there is no hope for any of them.  Nobody is growing old here.

I’ve recently enjoyed exploring a few British series, Luther, Life on Mars, The Fall, and River.  There’s a certain brilliance to the concept of a series lasting one to three seasons, on purpose.  There’s hope, maybe not for the best outcome for each character, but at least there is hope for a resolution.  They had a vision for where the series was headed and stayed the course, and brought us to a resolution.  They are like long movies with weeklong intermissions.  Beautiful.

On the bright side, I am looking forward to Fear The Walking Dead returning. They still have hope. Of course, if Madison is Rick’s sister and they eventually find Rick’s group.  Then the Fear gang is hopeless too.

Please, Walking Dead VIPs, give us some kind of hope if you want us to keep watching and caring about the characters.

 

Vanessa

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This is Vanessa.  She committed suicide last week.  Following are her Facebook posts from that day.  I don’t understand how someone didn’t step in.  Some of these posts even have “likes”.

Likes?

What is wrong with people?

As a teacher we’re turning everything and everyone into data.  I didn’t know her, but plenty of people did.  Plenty of teachers did.  Vanessa is my wake up call.

Click her name below to read the posts.  The language isn’t pretty and this is very heavy, but we need to wake up.

Vanessa