Monday, July 18, 2011

Take the time to read this. It may open your eyes or even save your life.

Let me start this off by saying, this is not a lecture.  This is me begging you to take a good hard look at how you are treating your body.  Do you know what you are eating?  Do you know what you are doing to yourself?  Maybe if I tell you my story, it will help you take better care of your body.

I am not the poster child for health.  In fact for about half my life I have been considered overweight, just like lots of us Americans.  So, yes this is partially my fault.  I have abused my body and let it happen.  I didn't think or care what I was putting into my body.  Mostly it was what I could afford at the time.  I didn't think I could afford the fresh veggies and fruits.  I didn't want to cook my meals, I wanted to go out and have a good time.

I got pregnant with my first baby at the age of 20 and had him at 21.  I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.  That was the first time I had even heard of what diabetes even was.  I didn't really care.  I was a young kid who was having a baby.  I did manage to have a healthy baby, but my body was a whole different story.  I had not really taken any of the nutrionists advice, blaming it on cravings and so forth.  I have to admit, being put on a diet when you're pregnant is a really hard thing to do.  I was very heavy by the time after I had Caleb, nearly 300 lbs.  I don't have a lot of pictures of that time, nor will I ever show people what I looked like.  To me that was the dark days.  I was fat and ashamed of it. 

I yoyo dieted for the next several years and then had another healthy baby, Christian, and I was lucky not to have gestational diabetes.  This time I was very very careful about my diet when I was pregnant.  My doctor tested me 7, yes I said 7, times for gestational diabetes.  But I was able to be careful and not have it this time.

A few years went by and I stopped caring and honestly, I let myself go.  Things with my oldest son were getting hard to handle and I didn't put my health where it should be.  I got pregnant again.  I was tested again for gestational diabetes at the beginning of my first trimester and was already positive for it.  That was not a good sign for me.  Again, I was extremely careful with my diet.  But this time, my body didn't seem to care.  I was put on Glyburide for a month, which made me crazy, and then moved to insulin.  Now, that's a fun time right there.  Who wants to stick a needle in their stomach when their pregnant four times a day?  NOT ME!  But I had to do it.  And not only was I taking all the medication, following the diet, but I was constantly being hospitalized of high blood sugar, low blood sugar, etc.  I was a nightmare.  I can't tell you how glad I was when my youngest son was born.  It meant no more needles, no more insulin, and no more diabetes....or so I thought.

When you have gestational diabetes once, you are at risk for developing it down the road in the future.  Many people can hold off for many years.  Well, not this girl!!!  

After my youngest son Cole was born, I continued to follow the diabetic diet, with a bit of a more carefree attitute.  I thought, this might be something I might get in the future, so I need to prevent it now.  I started eating better.  We all have our bad days and I had a few.  I exercised a bit more, but my weight was still significantly higher and not where it needed to be.  I had a BMI classified as obese.

When my husband deployed in July 2010, I decided to use that opportunity to get healthy while he was gone, as a sort of surprise for him.  I took a before picture and then looked at it.  I can honestly say, that had some major shock factor for me.  I didn't really think I was that heavy.  But now that I knew, it was time to get to work.  I started walking with a friend when I could and when I couldn't, would load up my youngest two children and drag them up the hardest walking path I could find.

The weight slowly started trickling off.  I started at 234 when my husband left.  When you are on a 'diet' one of the hardest things is watching the weight fall off.  To me, it doesn't fall off fast enough.  I'm impatient, I like to see results of my hard work.  Because I was under the watchful eye of a doctor to see if I was starting to head into the diabetic stage, I was going in every two to three months to get weighed and get an A1C done.  My doctor was determined to make sure I wasn't going to cross into the lines of the diabetic stage. 

In May 2010, I had a warning flag.  My A1C was 6.0  That is considered pre-diabetic.  The problem is, nothing else was pointing in that directions.  Usually with diabetes, you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol.  My cholesterol was 91.  My triglycerides were 31.  That's WAY low for someone with that high of an A1C.  So, I was sent to the military diabetic clinic aka disease management.  They said I was doing all the right things and to come back when I had numbers that pointed at pre-diabetes or diabetes.  Way to be helpful right?

A year passes, I've dropped down to 184 and haven't felt this healthy in a long time.  I am still considered 'over-weight,' but my doctor is convinced that I am no longer in the pre-diabetes range or even close to it.  So, he runs a bunch of tests.  Then a few hours later I get a phone call, and that's pretty insane when a military doctor calls you.  They usually have you make an appointment and talk about what they're going to do.  Mine called me and wanted to talk about it.  I was a little shocked and angry and pissed off.  I had literally worked by butt off and if felt like for nothing. 

My numbers this time were not good.  In the span of a year, my cholesterol had nearly doubled going from 91 to 178.  My triglycerides had tripled, even though its still low, going from 31 to 103.  and my A1C was back up to 6.0.  I officially can be called pre-diabetic.  What's the icing on the cake?  Well let me tell you, I am only 0.5 away from Type 2 diabetes. 

My reaction was rage, anger, sadness and wanting to scream at someone.  All at the same time.  Yet I stayed silent.  What good was that going to do me?  So I vowed to be even more vigilant.  We cut out even more of the canned stuff and switched to 90% fresh stuff.  If we can't get it fresh, we do frozen.  I was bound and determined to get my numbers back down to the 'normal' zone.

So today I had to go into the diabetes class.  I have been to these classes before.  When you have gestational diabetes, they send you to several classes to teach you how to eat, the bad fats, etc.  This was no different.  I felt like I was listening to a recording that I had already heard and yep I was bored. 

The one thing that I didn't know that I found out today was that I'll never be able to beat this.  I went to the diabetes counselor after the class was over.  She and I had met several times before, and she knows I know this stuff like the back of my hand.  I told her what I was doing, diet and exercise-wise so I can get out of the pre-diabetes range and go back to the normal area.  She looked at me very strangely and that's where my final shock of the day came.  "You can't ever go back.  Your pancreas is like a machine.  It can only do so much.  When you are pre-diabetic, you've essentially burned it down to a 50% range.  Once you're pre-diabetic, you will always be pre-diabetic.  This is for life.  Our goal now is to keep you from going to diabetes as long as possible"  Didn't expect that.  I tried to argue my way out of it, saying that I've done all this and that...but she continued to say the same thing. 

It finally settled in when I was walking to the car.  I will always have this.  I will always have to constantly monitor every single bite of food that I put into my mouth.  And you know what?  I'm ok with it.  This is motivation for me to stay healthier and do better for myself.  This is my body's way of saying, "HELLO???  TAKE CARE OF ME!!!" 

I implore you to take care of your body.  Please don't abuse what you put into it.  This is not a joke, the complications from diabetes is death.  Do it for yourself, do it for your family!!