Last week I was an omnivore, casually eating and drinking pretty much whatever I wanted.. This week I am on a low-carb, low-sugar, high-protein diet, injecting myself up to five times a day with insulin to help my body process glucose. Welcome to my new world: adult-onset, type 2 diabetes.
In retrospect, my body had been giving me messages that something was not quite right all summer long. I had lost weight, had an increasingly unquenchable thirst, frequent urination and was exhausted. For many years I was a soda junkie; drinking at least one soda a day. Last year I cut back my soda drinking and started drinking lots of water, so guzzling bottles of water a day just seemed natural, if not super healthy, especially during a hot summer. Life had been sending me lots of feathery messages, it wasn’t until last week that it sent me a message in the form of a brick. In a matter of about three days, I went from “functional” to barely being able to lift my head off my pillow. I knew something was wrong and had my husband dial 911.
My blood glucose was at 697 (normal is between 80-130) and my A1C was over 17 percent (normal is between 4-5 percent). This landed me in Huntington Hospital’s ICU for a few days of intensive insulin, IVs and lots of blood tests and finger pricking. Once able to eat, I was placed on a my new diet, which will now be my way of life, along with those daily insulin injections (at least for the foreseeable future).
What? No cake, cookies, ice cream, pie, baked potatoes, pasta, margaritas? After about an hour-long pity party, I snapped to, counted my blessings and stopped wallowing in diabetic melancholy. As the editor at large of Edible Long Island, I’m constantly exposed to the best and freshest grown, harvested and prepared on our island. I know the best chefs, farmers, fishermen, vintners and purveyors. I know what is in season and where to get it. I can do this, and I will be healthier for it.
The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than 12 percent of New Yorkers have diabetes. Additionally, more than 36 percent of New Yorkers are pre-diabetic. Many of these people are like me and have no idea. The signs were there. I just wasn’t listening. Well, I am listening now. This is going to be an edible adventure for me and, as a food writer, I am going to take as many of you along with me as are willing. It has only been a week, but I am learning that managing diabetes, while definitely a science, is also an art.