Update to the Numbers, Part II

Was a big week here. A HUGE week actually. At least as far as my current state of well being goes.

First up, with hard work, determination and a sprinkle of whatever, I've managed to get myself back to what I will call pre-diabetes. At the same time, I also fired my doctor. Let's start there, but first, some back story.

  1. The doctor's office is about 50 miles away. It was awesome when I was only 4 miles away.
  2. This office let both of my prescriptions lapse. The first time was for Cymbalta. I'm not sure if any of you have had the opportunity to stop taking an antidepressant cold turkey, but it's very much not fun. The 2nd was for the Metformin that took 2 weeks to get refilled.
  3. I called about the Cymbalta script and was, essentially, yelled at for breaking some kind of protocol.
  4. I asked when I was in for my latest blood draw to speak to a doctor about not being on Metformin. Did not get to speak to any doctor.

All of that, plus not getting any solid information from that office made me feel like I was the first person on the planet to be affected by Type 2 diabetes, and that no one really knew what to do about it. They were, essentially, a prescription writing service, with the rest of the work being done by Team Burnside.

Now, about those numbers and what do I mean by pre-diabetic.

The Numbers

The number that we care the most about is the A1C. Remember, that is an average percentage of glucose in the blood for the past 3-4 months. Anything under 5.7 is considered good, with anything over 6.5 considered to be diabetic.

When I started back in July of 2016 I pulled a 12.4%. For the record, that is pretty much the top of the chart and equates to a daily average blood glucose level of over 300.

When I returned in October of 2016, I was at 6.0.

When I returned in February of 2017 (last week), I was at 5.6.

As mentioned above, that number includes 2 weeks of me not taking Metformin, the primary duty of which is lowering blood glucose levels. Now it took at least a week before it stopped being affective, and has taken another month to get completely out of my system. I will continue to monitor my levels at key parts of the day and correct where needed. I do have Metformin, just in case, but my goal is to leave those bottles un-opened for as long as possible.

And, prediabetes is essentially where I am at. It’s pretty long and boring, but if you are curious as to what it means, WebMD.com has a pretty good explination.

Corrections

You guys might have noticed that I have gone back to doing science, especially in the morning. That is part of my correction. If I wake up and I'm over 120 (which I am most mornings), then a brisk 20 minute walk or bike ride takes care of that. At night, if I should spike and not recover (which I have, twice), then I take a shot of tequila and a walk around the block. That has not failed me yet. I mentioned this to my doctor and, as expected, he couldn't recommend it. But, at the same time, he gave me the 'well, if it works for you' talk.

New doctor shopping begins next week. I think I already have one lined up that will also be helping with my neuropathy as well as the diabetes, but I do want to have a Plan B, just in case.

What a Difference a Walk Makes

You might have been seeing that I have been doing ‘science’ with my exercising again. You might have also noticed that I have been exercising more than normal and at odd, or very odd, hours.

When last we met, I had mentioned that one of my goals is to win, or at the very least tie, battle diabetes. Without medication. As it turns out, I believe that to be a goal of my doctor as well, because he has let me run out of Metformin, leaving me to my own devices to manage my blood glucose levels.

Imagine my excitement when I had normal levels after not taking the medication for 2 days. A little bit of research later I discover that Metformin stays active in the body for at least 4 days. In my particular case, it’s actually about 6.5, which I found out after my meter read 206 3 hours after a no-carb meal. A mile walk fixed it, but that is definitely much higher than it should be.

Since then, I’ve managed to keep under 180 by walking, going to the gym and, oddly enough, drinking tequila. Yes, you read that correctly and that’s going to be for another post, but tequila actually lowers my blood glucose by a substantial amount. Of course, I am pretty sure there is not a doctor on the planet that is going to recommend I take a shot of tequila every night for ‘medicinal’ purposes. For now, it’s working.

I’m hoping the pharmacy is able to get ahold of the doc today to get my Rx re-filled so I can back on it. It’s not that I don’t think I can control it without medication, it’s a lot of work that I’m not sure I’m fully prepared to take on at this time. More research needs to be done, an appointment with specialists to help manage my blood glucose with my exercise, and how to best manage my diet. I’m doing pretty good, but I am certain that expert advice will be required to really and truly beat it into submission.

Update to The Numbers

When last we met, we learned our hero, who spent the first part of 2016 behaving quite badly, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Click the link for more info. I have been to the doctor for my first quarterly follow-up.

Updating and Changes

The number we are most concerned with here, at least for now, is the A1C. Again, that is the average over 2-3 months of what my blood glucose levels were. For this second visit, about 3 months after my first, I would have been ecstatic with a single digit number. 9.9 would have been good. For reference, anything below a 5.7 is considered normal,

Mine came back with a 6.0

Since I’m tooting my own, lets look at the cholesterol numbers too. At my first visit I was at a 201. Doc said he wanted to see some improvement there. 200 is considered high.

I brought back a 157.

Doctor tells me this is usually a very disappointing visit for most people that are newly diagnosed, explaining that sometimes folks not see any improvement and sometimes even see increases. He was pleased with my results. I have to admit, so was I.

What changed you might be asking. I dropped pasta from my diet for the most part, and potatoes. I didn’t exercise any more than normal and, if anything, I exercised less. But the kicker? The 1 thing that really, really, REALLY made a difference?

I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said:

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

So, here is the thing about that. As it turns out, beer, consumed at the rate I was drinking it (about 4 pints per weekend), is bad. During the past 3 months, the biggest change in my diet was cutting back on my beer and adult beverage intake. Oh sure, I still enjoy a beer here and there, but not this weekend. Maybe not next weekend either. I keep an eye on the numbers and if I’m doing ok, then a beer or two at lunch on a Saturday is ok by me and I usually recover just like normal people do by dinner.

I’m back once again for a quarterly check in February. If the numbers stay the same (or improve), I’ll get promoted to the bi-annual schedule instead. From what I gathered, that is kind of a big deal, especially with someone that was recently diagnosed with the ‘ol Type 2.

My next goal, if it is even possible, is to manage this without having to take any medication. I’m currently taking 2,000mg of Metformin, which, as best as I can tell, is like an insulin booster, helping my body use the extra glucose my liver keeps making. I’m no doctor, but I still think part of the problem is that my liver didn’t get the “we lost 100lbs” memo, so is still cranking out the glucose, like the boss, for a fat guy. It might stop, it might not. I’m really hoping for the former, but with my family history, I won’t be too disappointed if it is the later.

I’m going to keep on keepin’ on with how I’m doing it. I am still trying to get back on track with my exercise and have been having difficulty meeting my 50 miles per week bicycling goal. I’m on track to hit it this week for the first time in at least a month. I’m going to also make a solid effort to get to the gym at least once per week, twice if possible, to continue my strength training. I still have goals that aren’t medically related that I’m having difficulty attaining. Because I’m still typing, the one goal that has eluded me the longest is weight related. I’ve been at 207 – 209 for the last year and change, seeing 205 for a week once. I really want that range to be 200 – 203.

Thanks for playing!

Who Rides for Science?

If you have been following me on Strava or Facebook recently,you might see something like “Riding for science. -36” on a recent post. While not really science, it is to me, since I’m keeping track of how my cycling affects my blood sugar levels.

Yes. Blood sugar levels.

Why would I need to do that you might ask? I’m pretty fit, exercise regularly, appear to eat well and all that, right? That’s what I thought too.

My year started off badly and included making bad choices. Drinking too much, eating poorly, smoking and not exercising regularly. I was also experiencing more stress at work than usual. So, like I said, year started off badly. I am back on track, but that doesn’t change what has already happened. Add to this the fact that, not terribly long ago, I was not pretty fit, did not exercise regularly and weighed 100-ish pounds more than I do today.

Back in May I started feeling a tingling sensation in my feet and hands, along with numbing. I had a feeling I knew what was going wrong and took way to long to see the doctor about it. When I finally made it to the doctor, a check of my blood sugar without fasting pegged the device at close to 350. For reference, normal is between 90 – 100 (110 – 120 after eating). I was started immediately on 2 medications; 1 to help lower my blood sugar, the other, an anti-depressant, to help with my feet. Continue reading →

The Sunday Post: The White Bike

The bike that reminded me that I like riding bikes back in 2014 and has close to 1,000 miles on it has been slowly getting repaired/upgraded.

The White Bike

It started back in 2014 with a Sunday Funday on bikes. I was on a borrowed bike for the day (since I didn’t have one) and it reminded me how much I liked riding bikes. The next week, I punched up Amazon and ordered this machine, a Critical Cycles Single Speed/Fixed Gear bike.

I started riding around the ‘hood, 2 miles. 5 miles. 7 miles. I keep that going until I started getting brave and pushed it to 10. I remember my first 10 mile ride. Thought I was going to die. I actually had to stop and rest for about 15 minutes when I was less than 1 mile from home. I couldn’t even walk well enough to push it home.

Then I did my first big ride, 20 miles in the shape of a 10 mile to brunch and a 10 mile ride back after. After that I was hooked. Miles started racking up. I even got brave enough to ride it on the street fixed (if the back wheel is moving, the pedals are moving, like a unicycle), managing a 15 mile ride that way once.

So, this is the bike that started it all.

But it is an inexpensive bike, made with cheap parts. It’s a bike made for college kids or hipsters to ride to class or around town. Not so much for clocking big miles. And big miles means parts wear out, and this bike has needed some repairs. Bottom bracket and crank. Tires. A new chain (installed tonight). I also swapped out the handle bars and replaced the seat. Back in fighting shape again.

Now I’m back to riding it.

Sometimes I just want to get out for 20-30 minutes and ride around the ‘hood. With it still getting dark to early and me not liking to ride on the streets with the after-work drivers, getting on the black bike for 15-30 miles just doesn’t work. So I’ll just pull this guy out and go ride bikes.

A few weekends ago, I even used it to do some bar hoping downtown, followed by a very nice bicycle tour. Up until it broke (which is why I replaced the chain). I’ll be using this bike again next weekend for an event ride, because that is what it is good for.

I was thinking about getting rid of it. Selling it and replacing it with a bike that I could use to ride around town for short errands, things like that. Now that I have done all of the repairs, and installed a fresh set of stickers, I’m remembering how good of a riding bike this really is, and why it got me back to riding bikes in the first place. And for that, it stays.