It’s Men’s Health Week and Diabetes Awareness Week so let’s hear from our Director, Roy Langmaid, on how diabetes affected him not only physically, but emotionally…
In Men’s Health week, I want to tell you about my Diabetes. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes about six years ago and have lived with this illness ever since.
The diagnosis itself was a lifeshock. I had no idea that I had a chronic condition and it hit me like an express train. I had seen myself as invulnerable, a marathon runner, non-smoker, non-drinker. An Urban Superman.
My first thoughts were: “this isn’t fair! What did I do to deserve this? It must be a mistake” accompanied by a sense of injustice and outrage. For a while I was in denial, determined to prove the doctors wrong. My emotions went from outrage to shame, from rejection to resentful acceptance, over the course of the first year.
If you think about the bereavement cycle, I went through all these stages. OK, I hadn’t actually lost somebody, but I had lost a sustaining conviction of my own vulnerability and I didn’t like it.
In a way my life experience saved me. I am a researcher and so immediately put myself into learning all I could about the illness – not knowing consciously that the first strategies for moving through the cycle were Information & Communication.
I was lucky in another respect too: it became apparent through my researches that much of the dietary advice given to diabetics was insufficiently stringent. Through testing my blood I found that even small amounts of rice, bread, pasta or potatoes sent my sugars sky-high and I would have to cut carbs from my daily meals pretty much absolutely. This Low Carb advice is now becoming the norm for Diabetes and I was lucky to stumble upon it early.
Emotional support came from my wife who quietly adapted to my condition and changed our shopping and eating habits over the next six months. I am sure she gave up or put aside many foods that she loved in order to support me. Thanks to her!
I did get pretty low in that first year and bargained with myself, the Gods, the world and experts in my mind. I struck bargains like: “if I don’t eat any carbs this morning then I can have some later” or “fruit sugars are not as dangerous as refined starches or manufactured sugars, so I can eat fruit.”
I made these maxims up; today my biggest problem in managing my diabetes is allowing myself too much fruit, and I have had to once again take up my blood sugar meter and monitoring myself more regularly (2 or 3 times daily) in order to inform myself (remember step 1 above?) accurately about my condition.
Diabetes is a trial and an ongoing one. I have at last accepted that I can’t get rid of it and have become suspicious of all the claims to ‘reverse’ it based upon No/Low Carb diets. My own experience is that such diets alleviate it for just short periods while you adhere to them.
It is a test of character, commitment, determination and persistence. I have good days and bad. What do I miss most? Fresh baked bread! From crusty baguettes to heavier rich loaves… yum, yum. But, not for me…