Sunday, January 13, 2019

It Counts

I scrolled across this gem on Instagram today and it really spoke to me. I stopped and pondered it for a few minutes this afternoon, letting it wash over me and really trying to nail down a number: how many hours do I spend on self maintenance?  Not mindlessly watching television, or treating myself to some decadent dessert. I mean real self maintenance. The kind that matters. The kind that changes your life (not that a good dessert isn't capable of such a feat, who are we kidding?).

In addition to my list of dreams for 2019, I have a carry-over goal from 2018 that I haven't talked about with many people. Only a handful of my nearest and dearest really know.  Back in October, I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. October 31 to be exact. The day of candy. Super.

I am quite ashamed of my condition, I confess. I feel like a lifetime of bad choices prompted my body to betray me. But really, wasn't I betraying my body first? Carbs, sugar, crap. All crap. And I think back to the times when I invited it into my life with wild abandon. Pints of ice cream, cheeseburgers, french fries, pizza. For my lifetime of dieting ups and downs, this is how I repay my body.

My doctor broke the news in a very roundabout way, after measuring my blood sugar for two solid weeks. We did this at my urging because I just felt like something was off. Something was not right.

"Diagnostically, this graph shows your blood sugar highs and lows. You can see the spikes here (points to ridiculously high number) after you've eaten a meal... and blah, blah, blah, more big medical words..."

And because I am someone who needs you to just spell it out for me...

"So... do I have Diabetes?"
"Yes," she answered.
"And I will always have Diabetes?"
"Yes."

I did not take it well. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, weak and defeated. I asked questions about my condition. Had I been making terrible choices my entire life? I have always struggled with my weight. I have always struggled with my willpower. I have always struggled with motivation.

I play chicken with deadlines in my life every day and win, but this time, all those subconscious dismissals of my health caught up to me. No more I'll do better tomorrow. My number was up.

"Is there a chance I've had Diabetes for years?" I asked, suddenly acutely aware of every single malady I've endured since high school.
"Yes, but there's really no way to know." she said.

In that one hour visit to my doctor, I felt my life become redefined by Diabetes. Over the past few months, I've dedicated hours of my life to Google. Most of my searches include specific foods followed by the words "glycemic index." The number of things I love that I should not have is sort of heartbreaking.



I've learned that yes, I have been making bad choices. Even the ones I thought were okay. I've learned how to test my blood sugar at home which does involve that most painful of all medical procedures: a needle stick to the finger (paper cuts coming in a close second). I've learned that the neuropathy in my feet is incurable, but manageable.

And I've learned that I can turn things around.

This is where that carry-over 2018 goal comes in.

Back in October I vowed to be off medication by October 31, 2019.  One year after my diagnosis. I can do it, and it involves a lot of self maintenance and self discipline, a character trait that doesn't come to the party very often.

My method to conquer this condition is not even a little bit groundbreaking. Doctors have been begging us to do it for years. I make it a point to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Some days I don't do much more than bang out 30 minutes on the treadmill. Other days I demand more of myself.

Just like with my new year's resolutions, there are plenty of opportunities to succeed, and just as many to fail.

Either way, I'm doing it. I'm doing something that matters. It counts.