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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Interesting, right? Not unlike the one I recently ordered:
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:
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.
Today I turned 40, which is no bad thing if you consider what my life was like at 20, which we’ll get to in a bit. Before you start reading, take a look at the photo above. You’ll find out why shortly. Nice hat though, right? Found that jaunty little head-piece on Cambridge market today.
I was planning to visit the London Science Museum today but a grotty head cold placed that pan of sciency soup goodness on the back burner until next weekend. Instead we took a stroll around Cambridge and drank in the eclectic cosmopolitan atmosphere in glorious May sunshine.
Forty at 40?
I had thought of making some kind of list, a 40 Something Something type of deal, but after mulling it over I figured that was a tad clichéd so I’ve decided to go with a comparison between me at 20 and now at 40.
I could wax lyrical about how I don’t feel any different now than any other birthday, but that would be bullshit. Okay, sure, I’m a year older, and you could say I’m half way through my life (if I make it to 80 that is) but that’s somewhat negative. It’s hard to imagine I might only have 40 summers left!
It could be argued that middle age of 40 (viewed by those in their 80’s) or old age (to those in their teens) is the part of life where Old Man Age starts knocking on the door to hand out wrinkles and grey hairs. Personally I think I look pretty good, and perhaps a little younger if I shaved the grey stubble off my face once in a while. I hate shaving so that won’t happen any time soon.
I do feel different. I’m better.
Bold statement, right dear blog reader?
Ah, but not if we take a look at my life when I was 20. Remember I said to take a look at my mug? Okay, then get ready for a shocking and embarrassing photo from when I was 20.
Yeah. That was me. Head like an inflatable ball. If I was any fatter I’d be blind due to my eyelids and cheeks trying to merge together. That’s one yucky photo. Feel free to scroll up and check the difference.
But it’s not just physical differences that have changed.
Let’s do a comparison.
Life at 20.
At 20 I was an idiot. A complete waste of space. I was unemployed for long stretches. I treated my body like shit. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life (to some degree I still don’t) other than writing. It’s taken 20 years to learn that craft and I’m still learning now.
Between 18 and around 24 my weight ballooned to over 26 stone, that’s 364lbs, which is just insane. And it stayed that way until a few years ago when all of a sudden it just dropped off fast, really fast. I had a nasty hernia caused from being a huge fat turd, and being a moron it didn’t stop me shovelling crap in my mouth and not exercising.
There was no direction in life. I drifted and did nothing, or as close to nothing as possible. I sucked at managing money, being sociable, keeping a job or even finding one. In an alternate sc-fi-esque reality I would have been euthanized for being a drain on society.
If I had a time machine and went back to my 20 year-old self, I’d look me up and down, shake my head in pity and check the following off a list:
I can recognise now why I was like that. Weight played a big part in my lack of self-confidence. I was very aware of people looking at me and judging everything I did. I was never sure if I was doing or saying the right thing and more often than not I’d keep my mouth shut in case I was ridiculed, and then abused for being a tubby lard butt.
Memories of people laughing at me for my size and shape are still there, not that I care these days, but that sort of thing caused a blight of introvertism at 20, made me shun what I could have been. Life sure is cruel, but only after you’ve walked a dark path can you can enjoy that which is filled with illumination and happiness.
Life at 40.
I’m glad to say I’m no longer an idiot. I’ve shed 11 stone in weight, 154lbs, and though there’s a little to go, damn, do I feel good! There’s the hip issue that I’ve blogged about before, What A Pain In The Hip, and though it still hurts like a bitch now and then it’s much better these days.
I’ve gained plenty of confidence, and that isn’t only due to weight loss. I believe that has also come from life experience. I’m more pragmatic in my thinking, and though I’ve always been laid back I now lean toward thinking way before acting.
I have a good day job, one that I truly love and take great pride and satisfaction in. That alone is a blessing and often on the drive home after a long day I wonder how many people are doing the same thing, but are also very happy with their day’s work.
I know where I’m going. I have purpose. I have an aim to reach for. My day job boils down to a simple sign.
I think on Monday I’ll print one of those out and put it on my desk at work.
Just a reminder that even when things get busy and the to-do list seems never-ending, I do indeed love every minute.
In November last year I published my first novel on Amazon called The Range – give this a click to take a look – which I had worked on for way too long, and am now working on the second in the trilogy called The Holt. That’s taking longer than I planned due to my day job, but hey, I’m really enjoying writing it when I can! My previous estimate of finishing in May 2015 has been binned in favour of November time, maybe. Fingers crossed.
I’m just better!
The fact is that at 40 my life is so much better than at 20.
Health – I’m no longer a fatty, though admittedly there’s still a bit to shift before I’m where I want to be.
Wealth – meh, not wealthy by any stretch, but I’m not in debt, so all smiles there.
Happiness – plenty of that, thanks. Hips aside, I smile a lot. I laugh and enjoy every moment.
Personality – I believe I still have the same ideals, only now I favour pragmatism, empathy, charity, reflection and positivity over inner rage, anger, self-confidence and self-loathing.
Just a number, right?
You must have heard some say that your age is just a number. Yeah, it is sort of, as the mind doesn’t seem to age as fast as they body. In truth I’ve not given the actual reaching of 40 years of age much thought. It’s not a big deal to me.
Some folk worry and stress out about this number. They make bucket lists and complain or moan. Not me. So what if I get grey hair? It’s just hair. Wrinkles, meh. It’s skin. It will get wrinkly. Failing eye sight? Yeah, already wearing glasses at times, no big deal.
Life isn’t too bad at all. I have my health, a good job and I’m happy.
Rather than run through a deep and thoughtful summary, I’ll leave you with some nice photos because life is indeed rich with colour in all aspects.
That is a dish of Spicy Squid Tempura I enjoyed today at YO! Sushi in Cambridge, along with extremely tasty Japanese Seabass.
Here’s a lovely photo of the punts on the River Cam, always a good spectator sport.
And finally, a funny pub sign in Cambridge that agrees with my sense of humour!
In my recent post, My Zombie Christmas, I whined about how the flu virus made me feel like a zombie. There was some dark humour in there, but essentially it was a complaint about how much I detested feeling like crap.
Boo-hoo, right? Poor Dave, feeling sorry for himself. Get over it man, it’s just a virus.
After reading Sarah Potters January Guest Storyteller post featuring David Milligan-Croft, I visited his blog and was astounded at David’s dedication to writing 365 posts in 2014 about what he was thankful for.
And that got me thinking.
I’m not the most dedicated blogger around, and often leave it weeks before I remember to post anything new. Sure, my posts tend to be quite long, but they’re not frequent. Whereas David showed he could write one every day, often short but rich in quality and worthy of time spent absorbing his message.
Now, there’s no way I could hope to write one every day in 2015, it’s not in my nature to be so dedicated. But I felt inspired more by David giving thanks than his actual posts.
Plus, I wasn’t entirely happy at how I started the new year with a massive moan. So why not turn that around and strive to be more positive this year? I feel I’m a pretty positive chap, yet I am drawn to the dark side of life, in a twisty and broken kind of way.
I can be positive, I’m sure of it.
So why not offer up some thanks to things that make my life what it is? I’m not saying I’ve turned over some wretched new leaf and have decided to fill my cup with icky positive vibes, posting colourful memes with disposable messages.
You see that? Yuk.
The interweb is riddled with that kind of filth. Does that really make people happy? Does that image inspire you? Or does it make you feel a little bit sick because yet another unnaturally happy person is trying to ram hot throbbing positivity down your throat?
That sort of message makes me angry.
I’ll be positive in my own time, thanks very much Mr Pointless Meme Creator.
If you like that shit, go Google “positive” and stare at the image results. I’m all for spreading good vibes, smiling and the paying-it-forward malarkey, but these days I’m more of a pragmatist and prefer to accept the world in a more balanced way.
Too much of one thing and you become a bit weird.
The Glass – half empty, or half full?
Everyone has an answer to that question, and everyone knows how to argue the toss over whether their answer is the right one.
Some might argue that the way I wrote the heading above is very telling as to my state of mind.
I could have written it as:
The Glass – half full, or half empty?
And you may have had a different reaction to the question.
It doesn’t matter which side you take, you’re wrong in someone’s eyes. As for me, I prefer to consider the glass as none of these things. The glass will always be in a different state, ranging from empty, a drop in the bottom, a quarter full, half full, almost full, to full.
And if you can accept that idea, I think you’re more likely to be a better person for it. Life will often hurl a shit sandwich at you and drain your glass, though I’m not saying life jams a shit sandwich in your glass and replaces the water. That would be weird.
At the other end of the spectrum, life hands you golden moments and your glass is overflowing. The water of life ebbs and flows because there has to be a balance.
Okay, Dave, about these genes, yeah?
Right, back to my point. I like looking at the dark side of life, and indeed explored it in my novel, The Range, yet despite my characters chowing on some serious shit sandwiches, they were touched by positivity. The themes of chaos, rage and violence were balanced by love, loyalty, friendship and courage.
I like that about life. The fact there’s always a balance between things.
So, just because I like the dark and twisty, doesn’t mean I live there all the time. And giving thanks to stuff is my way to actively remember how much good there is all around me.
I’m not promising a vast post once a week on the reasons why I’m giving thanks to stuff. I am indeed grateful for so much in my life, so why not share that with others?
Just like how I shared my ice-cream with lovely Ben here.
Giving Thanks to my genes.
I’m grateful to my parents for combining their genes to create me. I am here because of their DNA and I wouldn’t want to be any different.
Some people say they’d like a nicer nose, smaller belly/bottom/ears/boobs, longer legs, less/more hair in certain places, and a million other combinations that make me think: “Really? Can’t you just be happy with who you are?”
Okay, there are plenty of people in the world who aren’t lucky, who have very good reasons for wanting to be different. And I sympathise and agree with them.
However, when normal people bitch and moan about their lives, it makes me think how ungrateful they are. My life isn’t perfect, but I don’t wish I could go back and change any of it because everything that has happened to me, from conception to the nasty zombie virus over Christmas, has helped shape me into the good person I am today.
One tiny adjustment to my genes and I’d be a different person.
I don’t want that.
I like me. I’m comfortable with my physical oddities – weight issues, eczema on my fingers in hot weather and too much hair in places. In my youth I was overweight, lazy and raged against nothing. But right now I’m happy where I am.
I guess there is a good argument for nature versus nurture, but I like to think that without my genes, without that inherited set of instructions, I’d be a wholly different person. Sure, experiences shape who we are and guide us on the path of life, but it’s the building blocks we’re given that make us who we are.
It’s funny because right now I want to argue against myself, and insist that every tiny experience shapes our moral and ethical compass. And that can lead down the path of arguing about causality, a topic I love to debate.
Nevertheless, my genes are who I am, first and foremost.
And I’m grateful for being coded just the way I am.