Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Oh, me of little faith.

I thought all the crape myrtles I'd bought last fall had died. A few weeks ago, they were bunches of brown sticks with no leaves in sight. I snapped off a few twigs to see if I saw green. Nope. Only brown.

This morning, though, as I sat in the gazebo and read the morning paper (which doesn’t take long because the Roanoke Times has very little in it), I glanced up.

Was that a leaf I saw on one of the crape myrtles? I walked over and took a closer look. Yep!

Another one had leaves, too.

Wow! I thought. Two are still alive! Then I looked at the bases of the other sticks. On each one, leaves sprouted.

Even this one, that I'd been sure was dead, has a few little leaves coming up from the bottom.

All made it through the winter.

And I made it through the winter, too.
(Warning: Boring health-related info ahead.)

Three months ago, I had numerous health problems—fatigue, edema, numbness and tingling in my hands, bad leg cramps, and a bunch of other problems. I wasn’t as sharp mentally either; sometimes I had to reread a passage a time or two before I got it.

An A1C test in January revealed that my diabetes was a lot worse. My score: 10.4, which is pretty bad. My doctor wanted me to go on metformin, but I’d had a bad experience with it a few years ago (but not as bad as with Januvia, which put me in the hospital). She also wanted me to see a diabetes educator, which—based on my 1999 experience with diabetic education—I thought would be a major waste of time.

It was. After one meeting, in which the guy pitched the American Diabetes Association propaganda (including the infamous Food Pyramid) that I told him I didn’t believe in. After he "helped" me set a few goals (like I’m really going to weigh what I did when I was 18!), the educator informed me there was nothing else he could do for me and wished me luck.

I already knew what I had to do. I’d done it in 1999, but—when I became Mama’s care-giver in 2001—I’d slipped into eating like regular people (actually, the way the diabetes educator wanted me to eat). I decided that, by April, I could get my A1C down to 8.5, which was still diabetic but a reachable goal, I thought. An A1C under 8 is considered good control (an A1C under 6 is non-diabetic).

Thus, in late January, I started low-carbing. By limiting myself to 100 grams of carbs max (usually 75 or less) per day, I brought my blood glucose levels down substantially. By checking my blood four times a day, I also learned that the artificial sweetener Splenda, which I’d relied on for my sweet fix, causes my blood sugar to go way up. (I’m allergic to aspartame, so that’s not a sweetening option.) I learned that bread wasn’t something I could deal with, so sandwiches are a thing of the past. I already knew that potatoes, rice, and pasta—all things that I’d indulged in once in a while for the past five years—were now no-nos.

Three weeks ago, I took the A1C test again. My results: 7.9. Plus, I’d lost about 18 pounds.

Since then, I’ve lost a bit more weight. I figure if I keep pumping mulch the way I did this morning, I’ll lose more.
The book I used in 1999—the book I returned to three months ago—is Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution. Besides telling diabetics what they need to do, Bernstein gives a pretty good explanation of how diabetes affects people.

I highly recommend the book. You can take a look at some excerpts here.

Meanwhile, like my crape myrtles, I’m getting better. Spring is a good time for resurrection and renewal.

If you're diabetic, or think you might be, check out this website.


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Blogger Roanoke RnR said...

I think I might be diabetic. I feel weak and lethargic at times and usually need to grab a piece of chocolate to boost my energy. It runs in my family and I've developed the belly fat I just can't shed. I know the first step is to cut out the bread and pastas but I'm Italian and it's like an addiction! I really have to do something though. It would be so nice to lose 18 pounds. I'm gonna check out that website. Thanks!

8:20 AM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

You might be pre-diabetic, in which case cutting carbs will help prevent a full-fledged case of diabetes.

Here's another diagnostic clue for high blood glucose: dirty neck syndrome, in which the skin on your neck is mottled or discolored like it might be dirty. I had this for a long time before I was diagnosed and wondered why I couldn't wash off the dirt. Also, skin on the underarms and inner thighs will appear darker and sort of more velvety than surrounding skin.

8:48 AM  

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