Team Sugar, Mortality and Everything In Between

teamsugar

About a month ago I was diagnosed with diabetes, which kinda sucks. Through the idiotic method of internet diagnosis I had a pretty good idea this was why my toes had gone numb, not to mention the reason I’d shed 10 stone in weight over the last few years.

So what did I do with this news?

I bought a t-shirt with the TEAM SUGAR slogan on it.

Only jestin’ there, dear blog reader, as I’m trying to keep this as light and cheery as possible. Still, it looks like a cool t-shirt, right?

Since I was expecting to be diagnosed with “the sugars” it didn’t hit me quite so hard. I’d treated my body like shit for way too long, so consequences were bound to happen. But when you’re young, old age, or even middle age, is a million years away so why not cram another doughnut/kebab/milkshake/bottle of vodka/bag of sweeties into my face? At 19 the grinning Mr Reaper is nothing more than a cool album cover.

Before you start thinking “there’s lots of folk worse off than you, Davey boy, so deal with the slice of cake you’ve been served and get on with shit” this ain’t about me moaning that my life sucks and how bad I have it. Nope. That’s not how I roll. My life doesn’t suck. I smile and laugh and roll with the punches.

Cake does sound good though.

No, that’s not good apparently, because…

missingtoe

So now I’m taking Metformin, 3 tablets a day, which I swear I keep forgetting. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking “oh shit, was it tonight I forgot to pop my pill, or last night?” And I worry whether I’m eating the right food – too much sugar, too much fat, or not enough of one and too much of the other, or am I eating just right and it doesn’t matter what I do that last little piggy is going to get chopped off all the same?

I’ve got 2 new apps on my phone, a pedometer to measure my steps and work out how many calories I’ve burned and how many miles I walk each day, and MyFitnessPal that gets angry when I forget to log what I’ve eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On average I do about 4.5 miles walking a day, which isn’t too bad, though I question how accurate that is.

I don’t scoff choccy bars or munch big bags of crisps now. I eat a banana because it has slow release carbs which I’m told is good. I get fibre too because it’s filling or something. I eat breakfast at breakfast (instead of roughly lunchtime or whenever I feel a bit peckish) and I eat lunch at, surprisingly, lunch time (again, instead of snacking on shit throughout the day) and I eat dinner at the right time. Although for me that’s around 9.30 – 10pm when I get home from work.

Dinner needs work because I don’t feel up to eating when I get home and I tend to pick and worry food around my plate until I’m bored and then I go to bed.

Stabby stab-stab.

The doc gave me a little blood testing kit to check my sugars. A little prick (snigger) before brekkie, lunch and din-dins, and I log the number in a diary. That’s more of a ball-ache than taking the tablets because it reminds me my pancreas is a turd and hates sugar. Until now my body hasn’t truly pissed me off, so now it’s like I’m waiting for something to stop working.

piggy

You know what’s weird about sticking a needle in your finger 3 times a day? Well, more than that because for some reason my fingers don’t produce blood at times.

Another jab. And another. Aaaaand…no, wait, okay, that one’s producing blood. Thank fuck.

Anyway, the bad thing is that you’d think I’d be used to it by now. Retract the needle. Hold against finger. Press the button. Stabby. Squeeze. Blood. Put on testing strip.

Easy right?

I wish. No matter how often I do it I always wince before I abuse myself with that damn needle. There’s a weird moment when I think it won’t hurt – it’s okay, I’ve done this loads, I know what it feels like, no big deal.

ARGH! MOTHERFU…..

Ooh, look at the blood 🙂

Yeah, it still hurts. Why did I lie to myself? I have to stop doing that.

Another thing that sucks, as if plenty didn’t already, is that regardless of my healthy diet, those numbers on the gadget never ever say what they’re supposed to. The diabetic nurse said I should aim to get the score, rating, number thing, into single digits, between 4 and 6 is good. Yeah. Right. The lowest I’ve got is an 8. Mostly it’s around 12 or 14. Shit, I even have a 16 some mornings and that’s before I eat or drink anything.

Stupid machine. Stupid sugars.

So now I log everything that goes in my mouth on MyFitnessPal and I never go over my allotted calorie count of 2,200 cals per day.

It’s a routine I can dig.

Sounds great, right?

I can deal with the sugars, the needles, the eating a balanced diet, all that stuff. I know I can make that work and I know it’ll take time to get it right. Baby steps, Dave, little tweaks here and there to get things running right.

But what really grinds my gears is that since I’ve been eating all the right stuff I’ve actually gained about 6 pounds.

That is not acceptable. I spent most of childhood and entirety of my adulthood being overweight and suffering all the social anxieties that come with being self-conscious of my body. Indeed silently hating the fact that I wasn’t normal like my friends.

My reaction to being diagnosed with the sugars was “Okay, so what can I do to sort this out?” You know? Calm, level-headed, planning ahead and thinking of solutions. These days I’m pragmatic, positive and patient. Qualities I pride myself on, but they only stretch so far.

I will not go back to the fat side again.

But when I stood on the scales a week ago and saw the weight gain it was as if someone had punched me hard in the stomach. No jest. I felt sick. It was like it didn’t matter what I did I was going to balloon back up to almost 25 stone again.

In that single moment all I could think about was being the fat turd again – having to buy 5XL shirts, 46inch trousers, feeling slow and sluggish all the time, hot and sweaty even on cold days, feeling self-conscious of my body every second of the day, knowing people are staring at me, not sleeping well because my fat fuck of a body was choking me in my sleep.

Everything I had hated about myself for 30 years rushed right at me.

Shit. That, dear blog reader, was a low, low moment.

Now I’m wondering about my choices. I could stick at it, hope my body levels out, that it’s a blip, nothing more. I could stop taking the Metformin and continue losing weight. I still have about 2 stone to lose to get to my ideal weight. Sure, that’s not a good way to be wondering because I like my toes, well, kind of.

In another idiotic move, I hit the forums the other night, searching for anyone who’d put weight on with taking Metformin. It seems that particular drug is supposed to inhibit hunger.

I’ll have to visit the doc again. Ask questions. Change medication maybe.

I like my life now. I like my work, hell, I love it. And I can’t have fat ruin it.

Like I said earlier, this isn’t about me moaning, not really, I’m just getting it out of my system with words. Yeah, I’ll see the doc and sure it’ll all work itself out in the end and no doubt I’ll be fine and I will hit my target weight. But I can’t stop thinking about that heart stopping moment the scales told me I’d put on weight.

Christ. I hate that memory more than I’ve hated anything in my life.

So, to mortality.

Diabetes isn’t so bad, not compared to the big stuff like cancer or AIDS. It’s manageable. But it got me thinking about my mortality.

Let’s start with toes. I’m not a fan. They don’t look right. They’re not quite fingers, but they look like fingers. You can’t hold much with them either. They’re good for balance I guess and wriggling through sand on the beach. But pretty they ain’t.

foot20faces

About 6 months ago my big toes started to go numb. Weird, I thought. Pins and needles, I said to myself. That came and went for a while. Then the other piggies started numbing up. Well, not numb as such, just weird. Like numb but hyper-sensitive at the same time. The doc and the diabetic nurse did a prick (hehe) test on my feet – little pointy thing they jab the skin with to test nerve reaction. Mine sucked. Big time.

I could feel my heel. A bit of the sole but about halfway there was nothing, or only slight sensation. Yeah, talk about worrying. Gives me the shivers thinking about it. And at night, with the shoes and socks off in bed, I have these weird tingling shooting pains in my feet.

Now the doc and nurse both told me this has something to do with the nerves shooting off signals from brain to foot, some misfire and others don’t which results in a stab of pain. Neuropathy they called it, where there’s damage to the peripheral nervous system.

Oh, and there’s the eye sight. Close up, fine. But some days I see pink blobs on top of people’s shoulders. No faces. No expressions. Just pink. I have glasses now, but when I forget to wear them, woah, that’s freaky.

All this got me thinking about life, the universe and everything.

life the universe and everything

When will I die? How will I die? Will it hurt? Will I be lying in a hospital somewhere filled with regret? Will I die alone? Or will I have a gathering of family around me? What will my legacy be? Have I done enough with my life? Being fat held me back. Yeah, stupid excuse but it’s true. I never put myself out there for fear of being ridiculed about my weight, so I hid away.

The legacy thing was what I’ve focussed on more than anything. Will anyone remember me? And who would that be? I’d like to be a famous author, but if not then would my fictional universes live on? And for how long? What would I be remembered for? I like to think it’s my sense of humour, always smiling, being a nice guy, and giving someone a little bit of escapism through my writing.

Lots of questions, right?

How about these – what is my place in the grand scheme of things? Does the universe care if I’m alive or not? I’m made of matter like everything else. My being here was the result of a star forming, like everything and everyone else.

And no, I don’t believe a higher being created anything. I like the power of nature that binds the universe together. No, not the Force, but physics. That is equally fascinating as a belief in any deity.

star-stuff-copy-2

Since I am made of matter, then even in death that matter still exists, albeit in a different form, but it hasn’t been subtracted from the universe so I won’t have actually gone anywhere. I like that. I take comfort in the fact that death isn’t an end in regard to my matter. I will shift from one form to another, a bit like being recycled.

Since I consider a belief system based around religion to be a source of comfort rather than fact, I think about my place in the universe and whether it matters. I think it does and that everyone and everything matters, though only for a period time. If things didn’t die, the world and the universe wouldn’t function the way it does.

I like causality as it’s the only true constant in the universe – cause and effect. So my interaction with the world around me, my bubble, has an impact on the environment, even imperceptible things like a glance at someone or even just being seen or thought about has an effect somewhere, and that effect also has an effect, and so on, like ripples billowing out until they cross other ripples. Everyone and everything creates ripples, both in time and space.

Isn’t that beautiful?

Causality lifts my mood when I think about mortality because no matter how small and insignificant we may think we are, our actions (and indeed inactions) form ripples of causality that reach far beyond the perception of our own lives, and of what we sense around us.

Think of a simple gesture – dropping a choccy bar wrapper for example – now imagine the infinite outcomes of that. Seriously, think about it. The far-reaching ripples that can spread from that single event are utterly amazing.

As for everything in between…

The mortality issue has prompted to consider other areas of my life – am I doing okay? Am I where I want to be? Where do I want to go? What do I want to achieve? Am I a good person? Do I enjoy my work? (That’s a yes, by the way, but I still think about it.) Am I charitable enough? Am I conscientious enough? Do I give people enough quality time or say the right/wrong things? How am I perceived by others?

Until recently these questions where on my periphery. I didn’t delve too deep into whether they mattered or not.

There’s also the matter of worrying if I’m asking too many questions.

Or not enough.

Or the right ones.

That said, I am indeed a happy person regardless of the answers. I strive to do my best every day and I savour time spent with family, friends and colleagues. And the enjoyment I get from writing continues unabated.

I’ve still got at least 2 books to finish. The Holt and The Retreat. And possibly a third, The Untold. After that I have an outline for another trilogy that’s been brewing at the back of my noggin for some time.

There’s the matter of the next t-shirt to buy. I’m looking at a cool one right now, take a peek.

lizardtshirt

Interesting, right? Not unlike the one I recently ordered:

cheshirecattshirt

And then there’s the jazzy waistcoat I want to buy, not just for the upcoming wedding of a friend, but because I’ve always wanted to own a fabulous waistcoat. The list has been narrowed down to these funky designs:

waistcoats

I’m quite smitten with the jazzy colours one on the left, but they’re all pretty damn good!

And so, to wrap this somewhat deep, yet hopefully whimsical post, I conclude that life isn’t bad at all.

Positivity is the key.

I smile. I laugh. I don’t resist emotion because it shapes who I am, who I will become and my impact on the world. I embrace confrontation as a means to finding a solution to life’s problems. I share my time with those I care about, and indeed those I don’t because I hope to create ripples that are positive rather than negative.

We all have dark moments, but hey, they’re what make the golden ones glow all the brighter.

But don’t forget to enjoy cake, dear blog reader. Cake is good.

Ripples are important too.

 

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7 thoughts on “Team Sugar, Mortality and Everything In Between

  1. Thank your lucky stars, Dave, that you’re not a character in The Range. I think your chances of survival are far greater in and around Cambridge as a real person rather than a fictional one stuck in a plague-ridden city with all its pharmacies looted. You can still get your medicine and, hopefully, hang on to your toes. As for wearing flipflops, remember you hate them!

    But seriously now, I’m really sorry that you’re having to deal with all this health shit. Our bodies are such a miracle — that is, when they’re working. But, on the good side, I know a number of diabetics, one of whom has just had his 90th birthday and many of whom are in their eighties. All of them still have their toes and all of them enjoy cakes, pudding, and wine in moderation. Come to think of it, the 90-year-old doesn’t believe in moderation, but he’s a very happy and positive person who lives each day as if it were his last.

    Do feel free to email me any time, for the online version of a listening ear — a bit of encouragement and extra support when needed. And rant away, if you want.

    Wishing you all the best, and keep writing x

  2. Hey Dave

    Nice blog — good luck — I won’t be surprised if I join you in a year or so —

    …maybe I should do something about it now —

    keep writing – I want to read your next one

    n

    • Yeah, I would Nick. Better to get ahead of it while you still can. I sort of ignored it for a while and wish I’d not put so much stuff in my face when I was younger. But hey. life sure is a rich tapestry of twists and turns, and it’s never easy to spot them all coming. The next one is coming along, slowly but surely, one reason why I’m spending less time writing here, but worth it I hope!

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