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.