In retrospect, no one really knew that Agent Orange might contribute to the cause of type 2 diabetes. I knew before Vietnam that I didn’t want to go there. Now, 40 years later, I have learned some of the fallout.
Exposure in Vietnam might have been how it started, but until February of 2004, when I stopped drinking water (to keep me from having to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes), and I later developed a kidney stone (dehydration will cause that, you know), no one knew my BG was at 350. After I passed the kidney stone, I had a follow up visit to the doctor, and he confirmed what I did not want to hear: I have diabetes. This was not good news to me, since my dad had it for about 30 years, before he died at age 90. I knew he couldn’t eat sweets and cake and bread. And I liked that stuff.
So I was depressed with this news for a few weeks; sort of like being a failure in life. Oh, I took my Avandia and began to exercise, but slowly began to accept my condition. A couple of months later, I had lunch with a friend, and learned that he had type 2 diabetes. He controlled his BG (blood glucose) readings with Metformin, and he suggested I make a claim at the VA. I followed that suggestion, got a new doctor (and a more effective medication, too), and am now at about the same level I was 5 years ago. My A1C has been a fairly consistent 6.0. I test my BG levels once a day, and have learned what to eat and not to eat. I take 1500 mg of Metformin a day, and that’s it for the diabetes. I augment my diet with vitamins, minerals, and green powder (helps on the pH balance), but do not take any other diabetic pills.
Back to the story. For the next few years I took every miracle cure available, studied physiology, read dozens of books on health, worked on my pH balance, and exercised a lot (I now use an elliptical machine and a Bowflex). None of that stuff worked, except diet and exercise.
So the trade off is this: I weigh what I did in high school (but this time have a 67-year-old Bowflex physique), I have the best cholesterol readings on the block, and look and feel better than I have in the past 30 years. In exchange for a “better me”, I have given up most breads (sour dough is permitted), stay away from cookies and cakes and pies, and don’t have a pot belly (as if that were ever a benefit).
No one wants this condition for their friends and family, but they don’t seem interested in learning about diet and exercise, and changing their lifestyles. So perhaps, over time, the 6% diagnosed cases of diabetes will increase, and the President will declare a national health crisis, and McDonalds, Applebees, and other restaurants will have a healthier choice for those of us who eat out occasionally.
But for those of us who have been diagnosed with type 2, there is no reason to fear if we are willing to change how we live. Sure, we give up 30-45 minutes in time each day as we exercise. But we look and feel better than our friends and relatives, so we can gloat a little bit.