Friday, September 18, 2020

Being Diagnosed with Diabetes

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I was diagnosed with diabetes 2 weeks after my husband and I were married. They didn’t think I was going to make it. There were many times in the past 5 years, I wished I hadn’t made it. I won’t go through the entire five years. I will say they were horrible. I tried everything, every diet, every suggestion, every pill and injection. Some would work better than others, but in the end I was still sick, still battling high sugar, still adjusting meds, diets and work out plans. I deprived, stayed away from , and ate small portions. I worked out, had personal trainers, and nutritionists.

Along the way a few people would tell me about a plant based diet – which I laughed at, I thought they were absurd, and that they were clearly nut jobs with no real information.

Every thing changed 2 summers ago. I had a pretty bad infection on my leg, it wouldn’t go away, and at the same time I had severe pain in my feet – to the point that it was hard to walk.  At the time I was on what my doctor said was a very healthy diet. I ate the following: high protein whey smoothie for breakfast, 2 egg whites, glass of milk grilled chicken salad with dressing for lunch, and for dinner some kind of animal protein – no more than a serving, sometimes some cheese (low fat), I would have this with some kind of veggie usually.

But my blood sugar numbers were still high. I was on a lot of insulin, and 9 other drugs. My cholesterol was really high still, and I was losing 2 pounds per month.

They blamed me for a lot – I must be lying about the working out – which was 3 hours a day. I must be eating snickers all the time – which was certainly not the case.

My leg infection was hurting so badly that I finally went to the dr. she looked at it and a moment later I heard the words ‘partial amputation’. I don’t know what was said before that or after that, just that I was 30 years old and if things did not turn around fast I would start losing my leg. In the meantime, I went to another dr. about the severe pain in my feet. Same problem, different area – the nerve damage had caused major problems in the bones of my feet, causing early arthritis among other problems. It hurt so bad that I would cry trying to finish a 1/2 mile on the treadmill.

The doctor put me on a drug to help with the nerve pain – a pretty harsh one. I went on it, because I didn’t have much choice, it was that or pain, right?

Soon, I started to become more depressed. With T2 diabetes – depression and sadness go hand in hand, but this depression was even worse. I sat at home alone for hours crying, I sobbed uncontrollably, contemplating over and over if it was worth it. My husband was afraid to leave me alone in the house. I could not bring myself to do anything, I became someone I hated. There I was, 30 years old, with out of control blood sugar pretty much all the time, trying every thing, eating ‘right’ and I could hardly walk and if this infection did not clear up – I would start losing my leg. Life really did not seem worth living. This was it for me, it was the best it was going to get. Doctor after doctor lied to me, telling me that diabetes could not be reversed, that it was ‘progressive’. That heart disease and other problems would just follow – more drugs – more money – more pain. And I really did not want any of it.

I was 30 and reached the best it was going to get. My eye sight would start to go, other parts of my body would fall to the effects of diabetes, and why would anyone want to live through that every single day?

I remember just getting to my end. Staring at my husband thinking that he didn’t deserve what this disease was doing to him. He had to put up with me – he had to watch me go through this, he was going to have a wife that couldn’t walk before he was 40. We were not every going to have the chance to have children. To me, all I was – was pain for him.

A good friend of mine got me to get out of the house one day. I decided to go to a water aerobics class, where another friend was teaching. I told her briefly about how I was feeling like crap, how I just wanted the diabetes to go away. She looked at me with so much care and compassion. And then said “Nat, you have to look at your food as medicine”.

I was angry at her – in a way at first. How dare she? I had tried everything. She went on to tell me about plant based nutrition and I thought she could not be right. How could NO ONE have told me this? I thought she had to be wrong, and I convinced myself that she was wrong. I was eating healthy, every so often I would have something that was a little less than healthy – but that was just living life. Plant based nutrition sounded like a punishment, it sounded like the worst possible way to live to me.

I found myself in a book store that same day. I came across one book that boasted a cure for diabetes – in 30 days. BULL SHIT. Is exact what I thought. I started to read, to prove how stupid these people were, and soon was reading the entire book, in the store. I then started to research, it turned out there were tons of books about reversing diabetes. I started to read every thing I could, talk to doctors who had reversed diabetes, and they all said the same exact thing: plant based nutrition was the ONLY way to reverse diabetes.

It pissed me off.

I did not want to stop eating the occasional piece of cheese – I wanted to keep eating the way I was. I wanted it to not be so easy – go plant based, cure diabetes? I had suffered for years, I was at the point of wanting to take my life, and someone was telling me – eliminate 3 foods? I didn’t want that to be the truth. I didn’t want any of it to be true. I don’t know what I wanted – I didn’t want diabetes, but I also didn’t want to know that the answer was so simple.

I decided that I had to try it – mostly because I had read so much that I would be a fool not to.

Let me tell you – the first three weeks was HELL. Mostly because I did not know what I was doing. I didn’t know how to make tasty foods, and I didn’t know how addicted I was to SO much. I cried in a parking lot of quiznos because I wanted tuna and cheese.

But I kept going – and 3 weeks later, I was off insulin, and that infection? It went away. I went off the meds for the nerves – my feet started to heal. And it turned out those meds? Caused major depression. Go figure.

There were slip ups – and every time there was a slip up – even if it was tiny – even if it was just a ‘little’ animal product? My blood sugar went up – every single time, and stayed up. I didn’t want it to be true – I wanted to keep eating the way I had. But the more I ate a plant based diet – the better I felt, the better my blood sugar got. And guess what? The BETTER the food became. After a while I didn’t even want the other stuff I was so devastated to give up. In fact, I started to crave the better stuff. And now? I can’t even imagine wanting the crap I was eating, it has absolutely no appeal to me – in anyway. It’s seriously has the same temptation of drinking liquid plumber.

People tell me they can’t give up things, but I would say not to give up on your life. Giving up animal products is not depriving you of something enjoyable – it’s giving you a different life, one that does not end up with you in a doctors office being told that they might have to take out a part of your leg. Is there any food that is worth that day? Any food worth being so depressed you don’t know if it’s worth it anymore?

We are so attached to the way we eat, we let it kill us day in and day out. Stop the cycle. Today is Christmas Eve. Growing up I loved this day, I spent it cooking with my Granny in the kitchen. We made crafts, we went to candle light service, we opened presents. My Granny was someone that loved me in a way only a Granny can. She held my hand late on Christmas Eve, we would sit at her glass kitchen table drinking hot tea, we would turn off all the lights, and just leave the Christmas lights on. It was our thing. My Granny also suffered from type 2 diabetes. She lost the battle before she turned 60. She decided to give up on any treatment, because it was too much for her. She was told she was going to lose her leg because of an infection, and that was it for her. She did not want to go through life anymore.

Almost 10 years after that – I found myself in the same situation, and I was only 30. I lost my Granny to T2 diabetes, and Christmas will never be the same with out her. But I have a chance to change the future of my family. I have a chance to make sure that that what happened to my Granny won’t happen to me, and hopefully to many others. Give yourself a Christmas present this year that is priceless, and that will keep on giving. Give your kids the gift of you being there for them, with out illness every Christmas. Give your Grandchildren something that they won’t look back on with great sadness, because you were taken to early from this Earth, but instead, that you will have many more Christmas Eve nights, staying up late, drinking hot tea with your Granddaughter, with the Christmas tree lights sparking.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Nat

    For those of you who don’t know, for the past month I have been running an online community called “Vegan For Life”. It is a group of people who are either wanting to learn about a vegan diet/lifestyle or vegans who want to be healthier. The group has been awesome this month. I have done this a couple of times, and each time I learn a little more, mostly about the power people have when they decided to make better choices.

    This month (health wise) our group lost 198 pounds, 2 people went of cholesterol meds and 2 people are now off diabetes meds! We had people completely give up: sugar, salt, processed oil and caffeine. There were 5 people who were not vegan at the start but now are completely vegan (and loving every moment).

    I am so proud of this group and what they have been able to accomplish.

    I won’t be running another Hopefuls group for a little while, as I start classes at Cornell next week to get my certificate in plant based nutrition.

    In the mean time, know that a month is long enough to change your life, change the way you think, and change the way your body feels. Every day make choices that mean compassion and health.

    Thank you to all of you who participated in Hopefuls this month! You have all taught me a great deal, and I wish you so much more awesomeness in the future!

  2. cate

    thank you so much for sharing this. I have struggled with bulimia, binge eating and depression for years and it’s only now the food as medicine idea is starting to click for me after years of being told proteins would fix my crappy brain chemistry . I’ve switched to vegan and am keen to try raw food

  3. Cristy

    Every time I read a post from you, I feel a little more hope. You not only turned your life around (a life your own DOCTORS told you that you wouldn’t have) but have kept going down the path that has healed you. Is healing you. It is astounding to think you were the person in this post, when I’ve only seen the person who obviously loves life. If you can make these changes, I know that I can too. And it isn’t just about the eating, but your attitude and joy that is so clearly in your life. Your compassion for people and understanding of having “been there” is amazing. I want to say thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Merry Christmas!

  4. Sinara

    Thanks for sharing this with us. U r a winner, and it is so good to know that u r fine now and giving ur depoiments in order to help other pople who have the same problem. I have a sister who has diabetis too, I am going to tell her about u.
    Thank u. I hope everything is all right 4 u and ur family.

  5. Kc

    Thank you so much for sharing. All of your posts are so inspirational.

    I want to chime in and tell people who are considering a vegan diet that it truly does become what you crave.

    I grew up in a household which centered all meals around meat, dairy and eggs. There were no meals that did not include those things. We were poor and all fat and very unhealthy.

    I’ve been vegetarian since 1993 and vegan since Aug 09. For me, eating a piece of chicken would be no more disgusting than eating a piece of rat or human. There just isn’t any difference.

    So, if you have been considering a vegan diet……please, just give it 30 days. Get a great vegan cookbook and start cooking. It is much easier than you would ever believe once you get into it.

  6. crystal

    That’s such an inspiring story. Many people in my extended family have diabetes. I’m not particularly close to any of them, but I’ve heard a lot about their struggle. They’re all southerners who look at me funny for being a vegetarian much less a vegan, so I can’t see any of them ever going plant based.

    I remember the first month I went vegetarian all I could think about was meat and how much I wanted to have some but couldn’t. But after the first month I didn’t crave it at all, and a few months later the smell was off putting. At this point almost anything that isn’t vegan grosses me out. It’s amazing how unwilling people are to go through that difficult period of adjustment. After that it’s so easy!

  7. Beth

    I also reversed my diabetes and lost lots of weight. It’s the only way to go baby! You are such a great person for writing so openly about this. Diabetes SUCKS.

  8. Mike

    Nat, you are something else! As you know I was told I would need heart surgery to get my heart working again. I told the doctor no – went plant based, and no surgery and now, no heart disease. You are right NOTHING is worth that conversation in the doctors office being told that you might die. I would have left my wife and 2 boys behind, because I was a stubborn ass who wanted my burgers. Was it worth it? No. Is going vegan easy? A hell of a lot easier than my wife having to tell my boys that they don’t have a dad.

  9. Sue

    I know that same feeling. When I was told I was losing vision because of nerve damage, due to diabetes. Before that I had just survived with diabetes, kept it in check with insulin and medication. It just kept getting worse, more medications caused more problems. When they told me I was starting to get nerve damage I just about lost it. My sister picked up “Dr. Neal Barnards Program for Reversing Diabetes” in 6 weeks I was off all my medication. I go for yearly visits now and my sugar is still in check. I can’t imagine eating animal products now, at all. I got my life back, I don’t have to constantly worry about blood sugar, or what a medicine is doing to me!

    It’s true, diabetes is horrible, but not doing anything about it because you just don’t want to give up a food? That’s even worse.

  10. Kathy

    Tal, every time I read one of your stories, I am reinspired by you. I’ve read everything you’ve written for about a year now, (and followed you on DGMS as well), you are funny, honest, and so inspiring. Last year on this date I quit smoking, after smoking for more than 30 years, I think, with your help, 2010 might be the year I stop poisoning myself with food. Sending you and Matt so much light, and love, and wishes for a beautiful new year – YOU inspire me. Thank you.

  11. Deana

    Add me to the list of life changes. It was the one of those decisions that was hard to make, but so freaking easy that I could just smack myself for not doing it earlier.

    That and I don’t want the govt. to pay for my food or tell me how to eat. No thank you! They already mess up so much that I don’t trust them to tell me how I should be eating!

    People need to take charge of their health and stop being so easy to fall for marketing.

  12. Anke

    I know your story sounds too good to be true but I believe every word of it because I can actually tell a similar story. My father is T2 diabetic. Three years back I went vegan. My mother opposed it from the first day, claiming meat was absolutely essential for staying healthy.

    One day my father came to visit me (I was living abroad), and for two weeks ate a vegan diet with me. Healthy vegan, lots of veggies, whole grans, leafy greens… After two weeks he had lost several pounds even though we regularly gorged on yummy meals. After a couple of days he would even have to snack on raisins or chocolate in between meals to keep his blood sugar up which had dropped drastically due to the vegan diet plus the insulin he was injecting. After a little more than a week he COMPLETELY STOPPED INJECTING INSULIN. He just ate healthy vegan meals with me and continued to monitor his blood sugar and IT WAS PERFECTLY NORMAL!!!

    Sadly after he returned home my mom still refused to adopt vegan cooking, not even vegetarian. So my dad is back to high levels of insulin and high blood sugar.

    As you said the cure or at least relieve for diabetes is too easy and it sounds to good to be true. Only in this case it isn’t.

  13. Manuela

    If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is…

    I am looking into ways to halt the progress of T2 diabetes. By chance I came across your blog. I also took a look at the website of the “30 days diabetes miracle”, but I fail to see how a plant based diet heals diabetes in nothing more than three weeks. A “healthy” breakfast like oatmeal or a slice of whole wheat toast and a smoothie, a dish of chickpeas and rice sends my blood sugar through the roof. So, if it really works that well for you: Congratulations! I wish you all the best for the New Year.
    Manuela

  14. K

    I am one of the people who changed my diet and lifestyle before I got into pre-diabetic and diabetic stages. While I still am obese, I did manage to go “mostly vegan” with the exception of wild salmon, and my cholesterol, gluclose levels, and many other medical tests came out much better than expected.

    It is empowering to find that you can change that situation, even when medical opinion is against you on that. For me, I went vegan before seeking doctor advice. I knew that many doctors are still skeptical. They might agree to vegetarian, but vegan? I think medical professionals who saw my before and after test results have many good things to say about a vegan diet now.

    Only recently I learned that diabetes runs in my family, mostly on my mother’s side. I have seen first-hand my father’s suffering as someone very morbidly obese, diabetic, in pain from gout, congestive heart failure, severe skin infections, and more.

    Like the author of the blog, I also battled some time of infection, and I knew I had to change my life. I was very obese, and my body was telling me clearly that it couldn’t take any more of this. I took off 50 pounds, starting off with the South Beach Diet and getting rid of the sugar monster. The eggs drove up my cholesterol and worsened the eczema. I found I couldn’t stick to the diet very well over time, especially as I became interested in being vegan.

    I have been what I refer to as mostly vegan since April. I had severe asthma and felt so ill. I began to drop away what made me sick every week. I started off with chicken, coffee, dairy, and eventually discovered I actually was very allergic to shellfish. I also changed shampoos and conditioners, becoming more aware of my reaction to sulfites.

    It is so important to love our bodies and ourselves. It is crucial to realize that we can make changes that change our lives.

Nat
I went on a plant based diet after diabetes almost took my life. Now, almost 2 years later not only have I reduced my type 2 diabetes symptoms, I have lost close to 200 pounds (and still losing). This is a place where I write about my journey as I continue the quest for health, and living a good life for today, and long into the future. Get hold of me on nat@cleanseplan.com

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