Insights into my personal life.

This blog includes the personal details of my experiences as a recently diagnosed Type I diabetic and the impact of that diagnosis on my endurance athletic pursuits.

Please understand that I consider myself to be a work in progress. I am willing to share both my successes and failures, so please do not take my words to be professional dietary or medical advice. This is a blog, this is only a blog. I research my choices carefully, and take my health very seriously. The choices I make are my own, I am doing the best with the resources and support that I have. If you have questions or concerns feel free to comment, but please be constructive and understand that this is my life. I value it dearly.

My goal is to live a happy, healthy and active life where I can balance my internal drive to push my physical limits and the challenge of safely maintaining stability despite the challenges of Type I diabetes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Thumbs up - Crisis is Opportunity.

I wrote this post on my Kindle because I can only Swype - but not type right now. I'm a bit new to the device but it's my best option for the simple reason that my right thumb is bandaged up and throbbing. Earlier today while chatting with my girlfriend I promised to start getting my blog back going again and I wanted to hold up that promise - and I hope to return to my blog more frequently.... girlfriend? Yes.

There has been a lot of change in my life this year. My closest friends know much of the story, but I'm only left to assume most of my friends, of which I am blessed to have many, have been left on there own to figure out where I've disappeared to this year.

To put it mildly, this year featured some major challenges for me.  Many of those challenges are things which I never would have chosen to experience if I had a choice in the matter.  But perhaps the greatest lesson which I have learned is that control of one's own path is an illusion.  I've rolled with the punches very well, took a few licks (and while I'm by no means able to claim that all of those experiences are well in my past....) I have emerged, already at this point as a stronger person as a result of those tough experiences.  I remember learning (although this fact my not actual be true) that the Chinese symbol for crisis is the same as the symbol for opportunity.  Perhaps that's not exactly true and a good reason for me to avoid tattoo parlors, but I believe the concept is sound.

Since my last post a lot has changed. Honestly even back in February a lot had already changed which I wasn't entirely comfortable publicly admitting, a lot of changes were already in motion.  Prime example, I got divorced, which was entirely not something I ever wished for or wanted. Perhaps it's for the best but I am not one to quit, especially not on someone I had promised to love the rest off my life, alas the lesson is that I was not in control of that fate. I tried to delay  the process and wait for cooler heads to prevail, but even that effort back fired and further upset my now ex wife to the point that the only conversation I've had with her in the past 6 months was in a court house.

As if that wasn't shock enough I lost my job at about the same time.  That situation turned ugly as well and led to the loss of someone which i had considered to be one of my closest friends.  Meanwhile, the only thing I could control (diabetes) was going just fine. I felt selfish putting my health first in the situation, but had I not been selfish with my health, I would have been unable to be at the point at which I now find myself.
The combined losses (as well as the subsequent financial damages) led to the opportunity for me to move in with my parents into a mutually beneficial situation.  Through serendipitous good fortune I quickly stumbled into a new career path where I now am able to counsel much needed nutritional advice under the guidance of a brilliant Integrative Health M.D..  Living at home has enabled me to reconnect with both of my parents on a new level.  While I have experienced loss, that loss has helped me learn to appreciate the important things that remain in my life.

I spend the early mornings drinking coffee and sharing bacon and eggs with my father.  His symptoms from advancing Parkinson's disease are much milder in the mornings. And while he may struggle with the fork, getting out of a chair, or visual aberrations. He's been is sound and his memory remains (for the most part). I'll take what I can get.  His fine accepting of my nutritional guidance and has experienced some dramatic improvement when he adheres closely to the plan. He's even had days where he's been back on his bike, rising circles around the neighborhood. Not every day is a good day, but well both take what we can get. As he learns Rio understand what we been working toward, my hope is that his well-being will continue to improve.
My late mornings are spent in the car, a wonderfully reliable VW Passat. Each direction of my commute is 100 minutes, but I've learned to use that time wisely. I download academic lectures to my iPod, and have explored several new books thanks to Audible, and surveyed a variety of entertaining podcasts available on Stitcher. My commute is through the scenic back roadsand feature farmland, windmills, lakes, the occasional horse pulled buggy, and rolling hills. I arrive to work at 9 am wide awake and relaxed, ready to take on the world.

Taking on the world describes my work very well.  I lucked into a job with a doctor with whom I see very much eye with regarding our nutritional approach to health. For over 30 years he has been marching to his own tune practicing medicine with a standard of care rarely seen. Initial consults last 90 minutes, during which I am part of the conversation. I am learning a level of detail well beyond what I would in a conventional medical practice.  Following their meetings with Doc, clients meet with me for several in depth discussions on how to best modify their dietary intake to enable them to heal and/or optimize their health to their greatest potential.  I am free to counsel and on all aspect health. My primary focus is nutrition, but the best part of  the Integrative/ Functional health approach is the view of the body as a system. Already I am seeing massive improvement in their health whether it's qualified in pounds lost, improvements in bio markers, or simply improvements in mindset and energy with which they can approach each day.
While conventional medicine focuses on the narrow specialties and sub specialties, the functional approach looks at the bigger picture resulting from the interactions of the each of these specialities. It's easy to argue that conventional medicine is far superior with urgent care and trauma, but the functional approach excels with complex cases where symptoms affect multiple organ systems. Functional medicine also excels with its ability to proactively address preventative health.  I get to spend multiple hours establishing a relationship with each unique members and coaching them towards new behaviors that can have very powerful long term influences improving the long term quality of life as well as their ability to continue to perform both physically and mentally.

Each day I met exceptional individuals and am openly humbled by their personal stories of struggle and their intinct to fighting for their health above and beyond a point where the establishment has given up on them. Issues range from chronic fatigue, Adrenal fatigue and/or failure, Lyme, auto immune disease and all to often, cardio vascular disease and metabolic syndrome.  Every day I'm learning. As a smaller clinicc we are adaptable and able to explore new fields of opportunity to best serve the health needs of our clients. I was educated in the conventional method as a scientist and biochemistry researcher, only to now witness the advantages of a more individually tailored and personal approach to health and medicine.
Every night I settle in front of  a stack of reading which  can range from the latest findings from PubMed, or the numerous books published by other functional medicine practitioners eagerly share they wisdom, or even a variety of cookbooks through which I search for nutrient dense yet approachable meals that may best suit each of my unique clients needs.  I have been enjoying the process immensely.
I have found very little time for unimportant activities such as tv and movies, or the tv news.  I have learned to utilize Facebook s a powerful social networking tool which allows me to connect with other Type 1 diabetics interest ed in obtaining the same level is tight blood sugar control for either themselves or their T1D children.  I catch what I can of the news through NPR podcasts on my ride home, but try not to stress my mind with problems over which I have little to no control. I leave it to my mother to keep me abreast of any of the worlds problems, the score of the brewer game and the weather report as I prepare our evening meal together. She has been coming around to change her food habits since experiencing significant improvement in her blood sugar control and losing nearly 20lbs through eating as much (of the right food) as she cares to eat, including copious amounts of butter. She still enjoys a slice of gluten free udi bread periodically but has come to her own realization that she has better energy, less digestive issues, greatly reduced joint pain from her rheumatoid arthritis and the elimination of her for neuropathy by eating gluten free, greatly reducing the processed food and significantly reducing her carbohydrate intake.  20 years she's been a type 2 diabetic and I'm the first person to discuss the effects of carbohydrates with her.  I try not to let that fact upset me, but we all are a little extra protective of our mothers..especially a mothers but such as myself living with my parents at the tender age of 35. I'd like to see her doing even better than she currently is, but shed likely say the same about me.
I've enjoyed my return home. These will be my last few days living with my parents full time. I've signed a lease in the Warner Park area of Madison which cuts my daily commute roughly in half, although I'll still be spending nearly 2 hours a day in the passat. I'll be living with a close personal friend who is fully on board with the type of healthy life I aim to live. We each bring our unique experiences to our budding roommate relationship. Neither of use enjoy living alone. We are both social creatures. He's a friend who was there for me through my crises/opportunities. We are both excited about our future impacts on health. As a bonus, he is also trained as a nurse and capable of providing excellent care should I experience any unforeseen diabetes related issues.  Plus he'll teach me organic gardening and martial arts skills in exchange for lessons on bicycle repair and carpentry.
Living in Madison also provides another great opportunity.  I can work on building a stronger relationship with my new girlfriend, Megan.  She is very understanding of my emotional experiences of the post. She is supportive, compassionate, gentle, yet strong and has the most genuine smile. I'm not one to blindly rush into a relationship. My past wounds admittedly still sting. She had been incredibly understanding of those circumstances. As you can figure out from the nature and breadth of this post, I'm one to wear my emotions on my sleeve, I accept the dangers of being hurt again, of which uses feel the risks are relatively low.  But I'm not going to hide from the risk of failure and miss an opportunity to enjoy a relationship with someone who has to this point only made me a better person all while accepting me for who I am despite my flaws.  I'm not perfect. I make mistakes too....
Speaking of, I probably have numerous typos and humorous and/or confusing auto corrects in this ever rambling blog.  Earlier this evening I lopped off a good sized piece of skin from my thumb while excitedly slicing my gigantic Kolrabi which I just harvested from my garden.  Just in time to have to move a bunch of boxes and build a lift for my bed in the new apartment. Perhaps this is an opportunity to lean to be more ambidextrous.



post-script:  I'm including a link to my latest adventure and likely the topic of many of my upcoming posts.  I am raising funds for the organization "Riding On Insulin".  I signed up to join nearly 50 other Type 1 diabetics competing together at Ironman Wisconsin 2015.  My goal is to raise $1500 by the end of September.



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