Directional Changes

When I started this new blog, my intent was to document my journey from hobby writer to published author. Well, that journey kind of took a predictable turn considering I’ve been ignoring a certain aspect of my life until it refused to be ignored any longer. Well, until certain people in my life began to nag me mercilessly until I did what I already knew I needed to do. All in love, of course.

I deal with type 2 diabetes. I was diagnosed in 2005 (if I remember correctly), 5 years after having lost my left kidney to kidney cancer in 2000. I did go on the usual treatment: metformin and then glyburide when the metformin didn’t work as well as my doctor had hoped. Truth be told, I had yet to alter my eating habits or begin to exercise, which I’m sure is the main reason why.

When Januvia came out, my doctor put me on that because the metformin was doing its usual thing – causing me digestive issues. If you’ve ever been on metformin, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t – well, let’s just say the bathroom was my best friend for a long time.

For those that don’t know, Januvia is a very expensive diabetic drug for which there is no generic. There won’t be a generic until about 2050/2060. Now that I’m no longer under my former employer’s insurance plan, I can’t afford Januvia any longer. My current plan will cover it but with a 50% copay and they will only pay for 350 pills. Since it costs anywhere from $800 to$1000 for a month’s supply of the drug, I won’t be taking it again until there is a generic.

So for now, my only choice is going back on metformin and glyburide. I’m also, finally, looking into what I can do to help keep my numbers in the lower ranges both I and my doctor would prefer.

In other words – I’m finally taking this disease seriously.

Being off all meds for the last couple of years, as well as avoiding my doctor for the same period of time, it came as no surprise to find my blood sugar had risen to almost 400. Of course, I made excuses when my doctor showed me the result.

First, he took the reading out of my right hand, which I have proven will give a result 20 points higher than my left. Second, he didn’t give me a chance to wash my hands. Third, he didn’t swab the area with alcohol first.

My doctor has this look he’ll give me that I really think he should patent. Needless to say, I got that look.

I’ve been back on the metformin since March and I have tried to change my eating habits but was still seeing major spikes in my blood sugar readings. Since Januvia is not an option for me right now, I had to find some other way of dealing with it. I will be going back on the glyburide later this month once I see my doctor again but in the meantime, what the (bleep) do I do?

While researching, I stumbled over a book that was supposed to be all about how vinegar can be used to help lower blood sugar. The book is not in Kindle form but I did find the hardback version. I always look at reviews before I purchase pretty much anything. For this book, I found reviews stating that the author rarely mentions vinegar in the book and gives the usual information on how to handle the disease. So, I passed.

There were other books listed that promised that I could cure my type 2 diabetes if I followed their plan. Okay. I’ll bite. And what did all of these books say was the cure? Becoming vegan. Um. No. I like my animal derived protein a little too much, thank you.

Then I saw a book that talked about glycemic load versus glycemic index. I’ve read about glycemic index before and I did try it briefly a long time ago but still didn’t find any real success. The Amazon blurb for this book sounded promising so I bought it and in doing so, hit upon possibly the main reason why I couldn’t get my blood sugar under control. I am apparently sensitive to starch. There were three, specific starches the author recommended eliminating so I decided to elminate them. With one exception, which I discovered quite by accident.

I had a crown seated a couple of weeks ago that left my mouth really unhappy. My dad was going out to get himself and my mom lunch at a certain restaraunt and I asked him to get me some mashed potatoes. I really wanted the ones he makes because he makes them so delicious but whatever I ended up with would work. I just wanted something I didn’t have to chew and aggravate the pain I was already in. Knowing the potatoes would probably spike my blood sugar, I ate them anyway. Imagine my surprise when I took my blood sugar 2 hours later, expecting to see a really high number, but instead of seeing a number below 200 for the first time in a long time. That led me to an obvious conclusion.

Potatoes are not my problem.

In fact, when I eat potatoes at a meal, there is no major blood sugar spike. Not really much of a spike at all. Potatoes have helped my blood sugar to stabilize between 200 and 250. Now, while I realize that’s still quite high, it is much better than it has been and it’s very encouraging, to say the least. And now that I see how much better I feel with less glucose running rampant through my body, it’s spurred me on toward the goal of seeing numbers below 200 more consistently.

Keep in mind, every body is different. What works for one person, might not necessarily work for someone else or work in the same way. For me, avoiding breads, even those with low carbs, have made a world of difference. Yes, I’m craving bread and pizza like crazy but knowing that eating either one will send my blood sugar soaring again helps. I have, however, found a wonderful substitute for pizza crust – those very large portobello mushroom caps. I saw these made up at my local grocer and decided I could make my own version. Haven’t done it yet but I’m really looking forward to it. I might even do it tonight. No, it won’t be exactly like having pizza but at least I won’t feel so deprived.

And speaking of pizza, I have decided that once I have my blood sugar stablized below 200 and preferably below 150, I am going to have some pizza. It will be my reward. No, it won’t be a habitual thing but I believe that when we completely deprive ourselves, there is something within us that breaks and we end up binging on the very thing we’ve been trying to avoid. Besides, it might be that once I do get to that point, I won’t want the pizza. It’s just something to look forward to if I still want it by the time I get there.

Exercise is another important factor in getting blood sugar down. I have an exercise bike here in my study and I’ve started climbing on board for 15-20 minutes every other day. Walking is also a good way of working off excess blood sugar but with my outdoor allergies, doing so right now would only end with me sick in bed. I’m hoping at some point in time to replace the bike with a treadmill. I just prefer walking to pumping pedals.

And finally, I’m keeping a food journal. Not to count calories or carbs or anything like that but to log what I’ve eaten, what activities I’ve done and how those things have affected my blood sugar readings. This journal has really helped me to see what foods have bad results an which ones actually help. Of course, I have fallen off the path a few times and I do also log when those happen. Nighttime seems to be my worst time for temptation. I’m usually at the computer watching Netflix (I don’t own a TV and only watch shows I like on Netflix or Amazon Prime). I do play a game on my phone or PC to keep my hands busy and have gotten into the habit of drinking herbal tea after a meal. Once my mouth has settled from the crown, I’ll also be chewing sugarless gum, although from what I’ve read, just the sensation of sweet on the tongue can trigger an insulin surge, which is another factor in this very frustrating disease that I’m trying to avoid.

Basically, if I’ve understood what I’ve read, the glucose/insulin cycle can and will degenerate to the point where insulin production in the pancreas will shut down completely. At that point, I’ll be dealing with insulin injections and that is definitely a place I really don’t want to go. I tried allergy injections a long, long time ago and had a hard time sticking myself with that needle. Best to avoid having to do that and I believe the way I’m going right now will do just that. Then again, checking blood sugar does involve pricking my fingers but fooling with insulin is a lot trickier than just a finger prick.

So, how does all this relate to directional changes in my writing? I suppose it doesn’t. However, I have been so focused on this issue that it has kept me from writing everyday. At this point, the only time I work on the novel is when I meet up with my writing group once or twice a week. Other times, I’m reading books about how to handle diabetes or looking things up online.

I am at what I estimate to be the final two chapters of the novel. For some reason, I just couldn’t sit myself down and get them written. I’ve gone through the previous chapters, made decisions on some minor changes that don’t affect the rest of the novel all that much but will have some affect. I’ve also written a loose outline/synopsis up to the point of the final chapters so that I have some idea of the continuity of the project. I’ve also made some decisions as to the outcome of the climax chapter – who survives and in what condition, that sort of thing – as well as what I actually want to happen in this chapter.

I finally admitted to being afraid of finishing the book. I know that once it’s done and reviewed by my beta readers and the final polishing done, the thing either sits around gathering dust or it goes up on Amazon, for better or worse.

My fear is two-fold. I’m afraid that it won’t sell and I’m afraid that it will sell.

If it doesn’t sell, I might be disappointed enough that I give up writing altogether. What would be the point of continuing something I’m not going to make any money at? Forget that I’ve spent the last 30 some odd years writing my little heart out.

But what if it does sell? What if it really blows up? What if I find that I can be a published author and make some kind of living at it? I’ve always loved writing. Well, I’ve always loved writing that first draft. Revisions are a whole other story.

So, if it does sell and I want to continue, that means I’ll have to write another book. What’s so hard about that? It’s just the process beginning all over again and it’s not like I don’t have enough ideas that I don’t have anything more to write about. I definitely don’t want to be one shot wonder, so I’d just have to woman up and get busy on the second book.

And I’m chuckling as I write this. Like I could really give up writing at this point. I simply can’t help myself. And even if I consciously could do it, my subconcious won’t let me. I dream new stories to tell, many of them so vivid that I feel compelled to at least do a skeleton outline so that I don’t forget certain plot points. No. Giving up will never be an option.

And by the way, I have begun to write that climactic chapter and it hasn’t gone the way I thought it would. It’s gone much better, according to the two writer friends I read it to the other night. It’s not finished yet but it won’t take much to get it finished. I should also have the seeds of the second book once I’m done. Not a cliffhanger so to speak but enough to hint that a second book will be forthcoming.

I know that I’m not alone in this fear. I know this is first time author fear that happens to every first time author, even the ones who say otherwise. Putting yourself out there is scary, especially when it involves something as close to the heart as a novel the author has worked on for months, possibly even years. I have a story that I began 30 years ago that has gone through so many changes that it no longer resembles that first draft. In fact, I have such trouble thinning out all of the ideas that I seriously doubt those characters will ever be introduced to the public. This current novel has been in danger of seeing the same fate but I have really worked hard not to take off on rabbit trails with this one like I have previously. This one is now written pretty much in stone.

And I think I’ve rattled on long enough here. If you’ve made it this far, thanks so much for sticking with it.

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