Su Lum: Back to the old drawing board
November 20, 2002
I’ve always had blood sugar problems ? too high, too low, trembling protein-lack attacks ? “Did you EAT?” friends and family ask before embarking on a trip, and “When did you last EAT?” if I start acting squirrely.
It was almost four years ago ? though it doesn’t seem possible ? that I was put on steroids (prednisone, a very nasty lifesaver) for a year and a half, during which time I had to cut out processed sugars, and had a little finger-pricking kit to check my glucose levels ? at first four times a day, then tapering as the steroids tapered.
I never needed insulin shots, but over the years my blood levels were still “iffy,” and I was advised by my doctor, sweet David Borchers, to keep checking it every week or so, which I more or less did, mainly less.
The situation turned serious a month ago, when I fainted on the plane en route to Florida, saw five moons instead of one and couldn’t read during my four days there, and when I finally (DUH) checked my fasting glucose after I got home it was 394!
Up to the hospital for rehydration, IV insulin and two new meds. Into my files for the diabetes books I’d been given when I was at St. Mary’s in Grand Junction. This was beyond cutting out sugar, it was time for another Change of Lifestyle.
How many times can you change your lifestyle? First I cut out sugar, but still porked up to 150 pounds on the steroids, which probably caused the little heart attack. That put me in the Cardiac Rehab exercise class thrice a week, which I’m still in and love ? that was a big lifestyle change ? where I was inundated with heart-healthy diet information: eat lots of fruit, veggies and grains, stay away from meat and fats.
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The diabetes diet, on the other hand, severely limits carbohydrate intake, and guess where the carbohydrates are: in fruit, grains, breads, milk, yogurt, high-starch veggies such as corn, peas, beans, potatoes and winter squashes. There are no carbs in meat (red or otherwise), bacon (!), fish or fowl, butter, eggs or cheese.
I did well on this diet ? felt good, my blood levels were stabilizing on hamburgers (without the bun) and salads, bacon and brie, and I lost five pounds.
A couple of weeks ago I was visiting my mother in New Jersey, where I woke up thinking I had broken my right ankle. Gads ? NOW what? I figured I had twisted it, but after two weeks icing it and wearing an elastic ankle brace, it didn’t improve, so I had a blood test and it turns out to be GOUT!
I’ve had past bouts with gout, mainly caused by medications, and guess what exacerbates gout? Meat, fat and booze, plus various vegetables including green beans, asparagus and Brussels sprouts, which I’ve been eating a lot of lately. You can probably figure out where I’m going with this. My diabetic diet has brought on Gout, and now what?
Lean chicken and spinach? Hell, we’re more afraid of chicken than we are of our air bags, and even spinach has recently come under fire. Maybe rabbit, though I doubt that local zoning or historic preservation would allow me to set up a rabbit hutch in one of my sheds ? I could probably get away with raising them in my spare bedroom. That would cut down on my City Market costs: fresh organic rabbit (no fat), those live bibb lettuces, and an apple a day (15 carbs) to keep the doctor away.
The good news is that, as far as I can tell, I can eat all the mustard and horseradish I want.
[Su Lum is a longtime local who is tired of researching all this crap. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
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