Moderation: just another word for “denial.”

In my last post, I briefly touched on the relationship between PA and insulin resistance – in short, that it can be caused by the potassium depletion from the PA. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately – what it meant for me during the 10 years that I had untreated PA, what familial link there may be, and on a larger scale, where it might fit in to the nation’s diabetes epidemic.

In January 2003, when I was at my sickest (and my highest weight, a whopping 173 pounds), I was diagnosed with two of the three: insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. With a strong maternal family history of diabetes and heart disease, this would have been enough to scare me into action, but I was lucky: I was also diagnosed with fructose intolerance at the same time. The end result of following a diet for fructose restriction was essentially a low-carbohydrate diet – no sugars, no grains, no fruits – which enabled me to lose 50 pounds in less than three months. I’m pretty certain that this saved my life – at the very least, it reversed many of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome – and thus, I am a big believer in carbohydrate restriction as a preferable treatment (over drugs) for insulin resistance.

My mother, age 86, is the middle child of seven siblings, and is the only surviving one except for the youngest. Of the five who have died, four of them have died from diabetic complications or heart disease (or a combination of both, as all were diabetic). All were obese. The youngest living sibling is also obese and diabetic. The only two of the seven not to become both obese and T2 diabetic are my mother and the one sister who died young (a suicide).

When one begins the diagnostic process for PA, there are a lot of questions about family history. I don’t have a lot of information, but based on what I was able to put together – mainly, the above paragraph – I came to two conclusions: first, while I have no proof of this and never will, I suspect that every one of the siblings above who died of diabetic complications had an adrenal tumor. And, second, if one becomes diabetic as an adult, the best things one can do are remove all sugar and grains, processed foods, and “eating for entertainment” from one’s diet; and get up off one’s butt and move. I am convinced that I reversed my insulin resistance early on because I refused to remain sick and fat (even if this could not reverse the tumor!), and I am convinced that my mother’s apparent immunity to these diseases is due to her lifelong habit of walking everywhere (she never learned to drive).

~ ~ ~

Even if my adrenalectomy has, at least for the time being, rescued me from the danger zone of developing diabetes, I remain extremely interested in the subject, and I have RSS feeds set up for news items about the disease. So even though I don’t watch television and could care less about celebrity chefs, the recent hubbub about Paula Deen’s diabetes diagnosis came across my radar. And I’m siding with Anthony Bourdain here – she really is the most dangerous woman in America.

Why? Not because she advocates eating bacon cheeseburgers sandwiched between two glazed donuts, but because she advocates moderation (WARNING: link with sound!). Loudly and emphatically. Sorry, Ms. Deen, but I’ve got news for you:

Moderation doesn’t work. And you are living proof of it.

First, moderation goes against human nature. We’re hardwired to survive, and survival, historically speaking, means beating famine. So, when presented with food, we eat. Simple enough.

And, second, as I noted above – when one has metabolic derangement, carbohydrate restriction can work wonders. And that means complete and total restriction of all processed foods, sugars, and grains. That doesn’t mean “once in a while,” that doesn’t mean “have a cheat day,” that doesn’t mean “a little bite won’t kill you.” Because it will. Maybe not today, but slowly and painfully, it will kill you. If you don’t believe me, do a Google image search for diabetic foot (WARNING: disgusting images!).

Moderation, in my opinion, is just another word for denial. The minute one is diagnosed with any form of metabolic derangement, be it insulin resistance, T2 diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, one’s life changes. Or perhaps more accurately, one has to change their life – that is, if one wants to take control of the situation and get healthy again. The choices are simple:

  • Stop “eating for fun” – that means no cupcakes, no ice cream, no fast food, no corporate chain restaurants serving plates of ConAgra with a side of Monsanto – and get up off your butt and move.

OR:

  • Practice “moderation” and expect to be feeling crappy, popping pills, and getting fatter and sicker for the rest of one’s life.

There are only two choices. It’s up to you.

~ ~ ~

If you have been diagnosed with insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, read this first. It’s a pretty decent overview of what each of the terms mean.

Once you have done that, head over to Blood Sugar 101 and read every word that Jenny has written. Chances are it will contradict everything your endocrinologist tells you. And, unlike what your endocrinologist tells you – moderation, lots of whole grains, and many expensive drugs – it will work and you will feel better. It’s worth a try, isn’t it?

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Three months (and a few days) post-adrenalectomy.

A few notes:

  • As of the first of the year, my doctor released me from the no yoga/no lifting/etc. directive and told me to get back to normal life. My pain from whatever I did to the incision site is, once again, almost completely gone. Here’s hoping it stays that way!
  • Blood pressure remains textbook normal. 114/73 today. I’m having labs done on the 25th to check potassium and the other stuff that was really wonky before the surgery – cholesterol, HBA1c, CRP, and C-peptide.
  • I had a haircut appointment yesterday for the first time since the surgery. My hair texture has completely changed and I’ve lost quite a lot of hair (as was evidenced by the previous week’s need to call the plumber to hydrojet my shower – never had to do that before!). I know that hair loss after surgery is really common, but of course this worries me. Mine all seems to have happened in the last month.
  • I’m continuing to lose weight without trying. Down to 111, a low I haven’t seen since the late 1990s. So if someone asked me if PA effects weight – heck, someone did ask me last night – my answer is yes, absolutely. (ETA: a brief dialog with the doc over at the Yahoo hyperaldo board led to my understanding that this is how it works: low potassium causes insulin resistance; once the low potassium is corrected, the insulin resistance goes away. Apparently correcting low potassium via oral supplements, as I did pre-surgery, isn’t always going to achieve the same effect for a number of reasons; mainly, the levels that are monitored – plasma potassium – are not the most accurate reflection of true potassium levels in the body.)
  • Had my first bit of bad news since the surgery. Last week I went to my optometrist for a routine prescription update. He dilated my eyes and noted that I have visible vascular damage. We discussed PA extensively and he understands what I’ve been through, but can’t really comment as to whether or not the damage he noted is reversible, or what, exactly, it means for me long-term. He also saw early signs of macular degeneration, which runs in my family (but usually doesn’t hit until age 70 or so – I’m only 46!). My mother has this, so I’ve always known that there was a good change I would eventually too. But from what I’ve read, uncontrolled hypertension – you know, that thing I had for 10 years while I was waiting for someone to diagnose my tumor – can also be a cause. I’m currently waiting for a referral to the chief of retinal disorders at UCLA to get to the bottom of this, and trying not to freak out. Or get too pissed off at the series of doctors who were unable to diagnose me all those years!

ETA: yeah, it was getting to me so I did a bit of Googling about the hair-loss-after-surgery thing. Apparently I’m right on schedule – the two-to-four month mark seems to be when it happens. A little disappointing since shedding was an annoying affect of the hyperaldo for me, and the surgery seemed to have stopped it. Oh well. It’s hair; it grows. I hope.

http://www.ehow.com/about_5390925_losing-hair-after-surgery.html

http://www.surviving-hairloss.com/post-surgery-sudden-hair-loss.html

http://ask.metafilter.com/137548/Help-save-my-hair