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I’d already been feeling some strange fluttering sensations in my chest, you should know. My doctor had referred me to a cardiologist, and I’d gone through a couple of non-intrusive tests. Some of these revealed some “abnormalities,” which my panic-prone mind had translated to “deadly dangerous flaws.” I was feeling pretty tense overall, and on top of that, my blood sugar wasn’t doing very well. Despite my relatively positive review of my condition at this time list year, I had backslid pretty severely, and my daily glucose readings were quite a bit higher than they should have been.
All of that is why I found myself in a hospital bed late last year, undergoing all sorts of tests to determine if I had, in fact, suffered a heart attack while cooking chicken on the grill. The short answer is, no, I did not. But the full explanation was much more complicated. A combination of my elevated blood sugar and my tendency to suffer acid reflux when I let my weight get out of control had led to what they described as a GERD attack, which on the surface looks very similar to a heart attack. And there was still the matter of my abnormal heart tests that we had to resolve. The day after Thanksgiving, I had what they call a heart catheterization procedure, which is a kind of scary-sounding surgery where they sedate you and poke a hole in your wrist, then they thread a little wire thingie up through your arm to your heart. They can then figure out if you have any blockages in there and even install stents to help keep things open and flowing, if necessary.
Turns out my heart was A-OK, which is a huge relief. With a detailed view of the interior of my heart in hand, my cardiologist assured me it’s actually in great shape, especially for a diabetic. But my blood sugar readings in the weeks after that were still way, way, WAY too high. You’re supposed to have a glucose measurement of 130 or less in the morning when you wake up. In the early part of 2019, I was consistently seeing readings in the 200 range first thing in the morning. Not good. Carolyn suggested I go to the doctor to see if my medicines needed to be updated. That was a very good idea because it’s not uncommon to require different medicine as you get older due to the progressive nature of the disease. Diabetes management is kind of a moving target as you age. The exact same treatment one year may not work as well the next.
But, like the stubborn fool that I am sometimes, I thought I could fix things by simply working harder. More exercise? Onward, to the treadmill! Less eating? Onward, to smaller portions and less sweets! Yes, I had let myself slide in those areas during this time (It’s always embarrassing to admit how frequently I sabotage myself in that way). So I thought just fixing those things would be enough.
Ultimately, I did schedule that appointment with my doctor to review my medications, but I will freely concede that I should have listened to my wife MUCH earlier. The upshot of the doctor’s visit was exactly what she had predicted: I received a pretty significant revision to my prescriptions. And the results have been terrific.
When I went to the doctor in March, they took an A1C reading to see how I’d been doing. The A1C, you may recall, is the three-month snapshot of the glucose in your blood. A normal value for a non-diabetic is between 4 and 5.6. Anything over 6.5 means you have diabetes. Well, my reading in March was an eye-poppingly bad 8.9. That’s almost as high as it was when I was first diagnosed with diabetes in 2012. Absolutely terrible. After two months of my new medication, though, coupled with my continued efforts in diet and exercise, it was back down to 6.7 in May. Still not as good as I’ve had it in the past, but much, much better. And to see a drop of 2.2 in just two months was pretty incredible. My doctor was thrilled.
Since that time, I’ve continued to work hard on my treatment, and I am happy to say that I am as healthy as I’ve been in a long, long time. Just prior to my heart catheterization, I weighed between 215 and 220. On May 22nd, I clocked in under 200 pounds (199.4) for the first time in well over a decade! Since then, I’ve been kind of skipping along the 200 barrier like a flat rock on water. Sometimes a little bit over, sometimes a little bit under. But right around 200, which is so much better than it’s been in years. And my blood sugar and even my blood pressure have been greatly improved during that time, as well. In November of last year, I was consistently seeing blood pressure readings like 148/90. In the past couple months, my lower number has been consistently under 80, and the upper has been in the 120s or low 130s. Amazingly, a week before writing this update, I even saw a 115/73 measurement! Time to become a pro athlete, I guess!
Or, failing that possibility, maybe I’ll just do the Tour de Cure instead! The annual fundraising event is scheduled for Saturday, September 7th, this year, and Carolyn and I will once again be there to make the 5K jaunt. I’ll also be working to raise as much money as I can to assist the American Diabetes Association. Last year, I was the #8 fundraiser in the state of Colorado for the Tour de Cure event. I had set an aggressive goal of raising $6000, and through the incredible generosity of family and friends, my final total was an impressive and satisfying $6540! That’s the most money I’ve ever raised for a single event. Since my initial diagnosis in 2012, I have participated in this fundraiser every year, and in that time, I have helped to generate $26,519 for the ADA, which is an achievement that makes me very proud.
I have a couple key motivations that move me to try to raise money for this organization. One is to assist in educating the roughly 1.5 million Americans who are newly diagnosed with diabetes each year. I well remember the shock and confusion I felt when I was first informed that I had the disease, and the ADA-sponsored programs that helped me get a handle on my new situation were invaluable. Second, I want to help fund research that might prevent the people I care about from ever having this disease. My wife, my kids, and my brother all have parents with Type 2 diabetes, and there is a hereditary component along with an environmental one. If there’s a way to stop this disease before my loved ones can contract it, I want to do everything I can to help make that happen.
For the 2019 Tour de Cure, I’m setting my fundraising goal at $6500, just a tiny bit higher than last year’s target. Please consider making a donation to help me achieve my goal for this year. Even a small donation will help the ADA with their mission of helping those who have the disease now and those who are at risk for a future diagnosis. I sincerely appreciate the fact that you’ve read all the way to this point and are up-to-speed with my annual report on how I’m handling my battle with this disease. I am very pleased that you took the time to catch up with me on this front. I completely understand if you don’t want to make a monetary contribution to my fundraising effort, but for those of you who do wish to make a donation, thank you so much for your generosity! And, as always, you will receive a shiny new personalized thank you photo from the event. I’ll bet you can’t wait!
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