Two years ago, out of the blue, I was diagnosed as having Diabetes Type 2. Whilst not anywhere near as serious as Type 1, it was, nevertheless, a bit of a shock. But then I had got used to shock during my life. The death of my father when I was 13. My brother dying within 11 weeks of being diagnosed with cancer. And, when I was 21, being diagnosed with Hepatitis B. Then, and maybe still, the third most deadly disease in the world.
That came out of the blue too. No one knew how I got it. The doctor asked me “Are you a drug abuser? Do you inject?” No. “Are you gay?” Again, the answer was a resounding 'no'. Apparently, those are the two most likely causes of Hep B, but at the time they simply seemed outrageous assumptions to me. So, in the end, the doctor suggested that, in the absence of any other obvious reason, that maybe I had possibly contracted the disease by eating some infected food. Either way, I had Hepatitis B and it knocked me for six for nearly a year. But, at the same time, it also gave me a certain willpower; a determination; a discipline. You see, I was told that if I didn’t give up drinking alcohol and change my diet substantially, there was a fair chance that I’d die.
With that information firmly ingrained upon my mind, I promptly gave up alcohol and set about having a balanced, but rather limited, diet. I was washed out for a few months. Not bed ridden, but hardly energetic enough to get out of my pit every morning. There were endless blood tests too, but it was all in the name of beating the illness, so that didn’t both me. I wanted that day to come when I got the all clear, which I did, finally, after what seemed an eternity, but was in fact roughly a year later.
Anyway, I digress. I was talking about this latest bombshell, Diabetes.
As soon as I was diagnosed I started to examine my lifestyle. My overall diet wasn’t bad, mainly because my wife is a stickler when it comes to nutrition. But, I realised that, working from home, the temptation to sometimes snack on stuff like biscuits and boiled sweets, was always there, and I had succumbed. Indeed, I had developed quite a taste for Fox’s Dark Liquorice & Aniseed sweets, maybe getting through a bag of them over the course of a few days whilst I worked. As a result, my blood sugar level had risen to around 7.5. Not desperately high, but 6 and below is normal, so there was a problem. Also, my total cholesterol level was on the wrong side of good and my blood pressure was a bit high. In short, I was diabetic and technically in more danger of all kinds of stuff like heart attacks, strokes etc. than the average person.
Straight away, the doctor wrote out prescriptions for drugs to control both the diabetes and the blood pressure. But, I never cashed them in. You see I’m a great believer in only taking drugs when it is absolutely essential. I didn’t want to go down the path of becoming dependant on pills just to get me through each day. Instead, what I did was to get strict with myself. I stopped snacking on sweet stuff. In fact, I cut sugar completely out of my diet. Well, almost completely. The odd biscuit or piece of chocolate here and there was OK, but they became the exception rather than the rule.
I carried on with this regime for two years. Then, yesterday, I went for a diabetic check up. And, guess what? I've lost 10 pounds in weight. My blood sugar is now down to 6.5. My total cholesterol level is at the normal level of 4.9 and my blood pressure is way down from what it was, coming in at a very average rate for my age, rather than the high enough for concern level it was at before. And all because I made some simple every day changes to my life.
So what’s the moral of the story? Simply this. Do not accept your fate. If someone tells you there’s something wrong with you, don’t go into denial or just take the prescription drugs. First, try and assess the situation and see if there’s not something you can do yourself that might improve the situation. It may not be possible to rely on self-help. But then again, there are instances where it may be. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I have managed to combat this latest burden that life has thrown at me. Almost as happy as when I beat one of the most deadly illnesses in the world all those years ago. It took sacrifices, but they weren’t really sacrifices, they were merely sensible precautions to hopefully ensure a healthier future.