Tag Archives: type 2 diabetes

A Cautionary Tale

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time — past and future — the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” ― Eckhart Tolle

I am not the type of person who likes to tell people what to do. I am also a person who doesn’t like being told what to do. As I sit here after my early morning visit to the gym, I always spend some time reflecting on what got me to the position I am now in.

Please understand, I am grateful to be alive after my heart attack, and I have made changes to my entire lifestyle that will hopefully give me some more quality years than if I hadn’t. If I had listened to my doctors and family when I was in my early thirties, I truly believe that maybe I would not have gotten CHF and diabetes.

The truth of the matter is that death is not on our radar when we are younger. The grim reaper does not concern us. Our careers, families, and everything associated with them eats at our time and our souls. By the time we realize that the reaper is rapidly gaining on us, it is often too late.

In my case, the years of a strictly American diet combined with the stress of everyday living and a spotty exercise routine had taken their toll.

So mine is a cautionary tale. Unfortunately, I know that most people will react the same way I did every time my doctors told me to change sooner rather than later. Tomorrow was always my favorite word, and in my mind, the future was just that, the future.

But as we all know, life has a way of flying by without us even realizing it.

When we are young, it is easy to believe that getting older and the afflictions associated with it are a long way off, but all of us are only on this earth for a very brief period of time, and we should all make the most of that time.

So who should heed my tale of caution? If you still think that tomorrow either will never come or that you can escape the Grim Reaper, you are sadly mistaken.

Why not make the changes to your life now, so you are around for a good long time. You know if you need to change. You know that if your diet is crap, you need to change.

Please do it now before it is too late.

And that’s all I have to say about that…

Looking For Some Peace

The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.-Nhat Hanh

Walk so that your footprints bear only the marks of peaceful joy and complete freedom. To do this you have to learn to let go. Let go of your sorrows, let go of your worries. That is the secret of walking meditation.-Nhat Hanh

After riding a stationary bike for a little over a year and a half, I have decided that I want to start walking again. You know, mix things up a little. Instead of walking outside, I will be going back to the gym. This time, however, I decided to change gyms. Not because I didn’t like the old one, but COVID dealt it a death blow that it could not recover from, no matter how much they tried.

The next best choice for me was Planet Fitness, which I found out is much cheaper and offers more machines than the old gym. The one thing that I liked was when I told the woman behind the desk that this was my first time exercising there, she asked if I wanted a tour. I told her that I would concentrate on cardio, mainly walking, due to my heart issues. Not only will that help my overall fitness, but it will also prepare me for some fall hiking!

Unfortunately, I have found that my days of hiking when it is even remotely warm or humid are over. I thought at first maybe it had to do with staying hydrated, but I quickly ruled that out. I found out after doing some research that some of the medications that I take say that you should stay out of the sun, which, believe it or not, produces heat!

My goal is to use my time training to hike during what happens to be my favorite time of the year, the fall. The mornings are much more refreshing than summer days, and the rest of the days follow suit.

With that said, I will most certainly pay a visit to Anthony’s Nose, which is still my all-time favorite hike. If you want to get the most out of this fantastic hike, park your car on South Mountain Pass, where the Appalachian Trail crosses the road. The views during the fall are second to none, and if you choose the right time and get lucky, you can have it all to yourself.

Another great area to visit during the fall is Fahnestock State Park. Miles and miles of trails crisscross and give the hiker many loops, point to point, and just about any configuration of hike you can think of making. All you need is a map, a beautiful day, and the desire to explore!

This year, I am excited because COVID pretty much killed the fall hiking season last year, keeping everyone confined to their houses. Unless something drastically changes, we should be in the clear, and the hiking will be excellent!

Happy Hiking!!!

Don’t Forget The Diet

“I saw many people who had advanced heart disease and I was so frustrated because I knew if they just knew how to do the right thing, simple lifestyle and diet steps, that the entire trajectory of their life and health would have been different.”-Dr. Oz

“Think about it: Heart disease and diabetes, which account for more deaths in the U.S. and worldwide than everything else combined, are completely preventable by making comprehensive lifestyle changes. Without drugs or surgery.”-Dean Ornish

One of the things that I have thought a great deal about since my heart attack is my diet. I have always exercised, but as an adult, my diet has been shit. I mean seriously, if you live in America, the choices you have to live a really, really bad lifestyle are endless. Taco Bell (used to be my favorite), McDonalds, BK, KFC and all of the rest contribute to a great deal of misery and unfortunately, death in this great nation of ours.

During the nine days I was in the hospital, I was able to do something that I don’t think I could have done if I was home. I actually detoxed myself off of sugar and any foods that are really bad for you. Since my daughter was home from school, I sat down with her and with the help of the internet, we figured out a diet that would suit my diabetes and heart condition. She spent (according to her) several days going through the house getting rid of anything that didn’t fall into the new plan of healthy eating.

So, after leaving the hospital, I went home not really sure if I was going to have the willpower to stick to a diet that didn’t include at least some of my favorite crappy foods. Fortunately, I think that since I was able to detox in the hospital, when I got home it was much easier to stay off of the garbage. Fourteen months later, I can say that I am still not eating the useless foods and have adopted what I think is a pretty good diet. I can also tell you that with the change in diet and the continued exercise, I feel better than I have in years.

After several months I found that although many of the recipes I was eating were really good for my diabetes, they were high in sodium, which isn’t great for the heart in regards to water retention.

So once again I went to the internet (Amazon this time), and I found an excellent cook book with recipes from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association entitled, Diabetes and Heart Healthy Meals for Two.

The best thing about this book is that it runs the gamut of everything that you would want to eat, from soups and salads to meats, poultry, and vegetarian dishes. It also includes side dishes, breakfasts and dessert. Seeing as how it addresses both Diabetes and people with Heart Conditions, it makes a perfect cook book to use if you are trying to eat healthy.

Of course, I am not an expert in all things healthy, but I can tell you that I haven’t found any recipes that have not been edible. They’ve actually been really good.

Now the question that I have been wrestling with for these many months as I recover and also stay isolated from anyone who might kill me with COVID is this: If I had been eating better over the course of the last 30-40 years, would I have developed heart disease and diabetes? Although my mother had a bad ticker, it was her life long addiction to cigarettes that did her in.

One thing that you will never see me do is blame anyone but myself for my medical conditions. So many people these days spend their lives blaming everyone but themselves for the condition that they are in.
Only one person has that responsibility and blame and that person is you.

I Just Want To Hike

“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Sir Edmund Hillary

Hiking and happiness go hand in hand or foot in boot.-Diane Spicer

It has been a long year. Starting with my heart attack (actually on 12/26/19), it quickly went from bad to worse with the onslaught of COVID, and it didn’t seem like anyone could catch a break. With that said, I can count my retirement as a blessing. Truly a dysfunctional workplace, those poor folks are in the midst of trying to figure out what it is going to be like when they return in just a few weeks. 

Due to my hearts poor functioning, I had to wear a portable defibrillator for seven months instead of the forty-five days that they originally thought. On 7/31/20, I finally had a defibrillator implanted and have been recovering from that. 

My biggest wish, however, is to get back into the woods. My daughter and I went for a walk the other day and it just wasn’t the same. I want to walk on the dirt and feel the breeze as it filters through the trees. I want to take pictures of stupid things like rocks, trees, and insects. I want to be able to choose my route instead of watching the tv while I ride. 

But I still have an issue that I am trying to figure out. The spot where they implanted the defibrillator is just above the left breast. So when I go back in a week, I need to ask my doctor if I will be able to even carry a pack. The strap of even a daypack goes right over where the defibrillator is and when my pack is filled with everything I need even on a short hike, will put pressure on the device. I don’t know how much weight, if any, I will be able to carry.

So my question goes out to all the hikers out there. Do you know of any alternatives in terms of packs that would alleviate that situation? I figure that I would need to carry two Nalgene bottles, my first aid kit, GPS, and other assorted necessities. 

Feel free to put any suggestions in the comments below.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

It’s Time To Get Back In The Saddle

“Life is short. Go to the mountains and never look back.” -Anonymous

“Having a heart attack felt nothing like how I thought it would feel.”-Anonymous  

This whole Covid virus is really screwing up the start of my retirement. My goal, as small as it may be, was to be at a point now where I could be out hiking. But thanks to the virus, it has not gone exactly as planned.

Ever since I left the hospital on January 3rd, I have had to wear a portable defibrillator just in case I go into cardiac arrest. Originally I was only supposed to wear it for 45 days and then the decision would be made as to whether or not I would need a permanent one implanted, stay with what I have or nothing at all.

What are the factors to get me to one decision or another? It’s something called Ejection Fraction. What is that you may ask?

Ejection fraction (EF) is a measurement, expressed as a percentage, of how much blood the left ventricle pumps out with each contraction. 

When I had my heart attack, my EF was 8%. A normal EF for adults over the age of 20 is between 53% and 73%. Can your EF be improved? According to my cardiologist as well as what I have researched the answer is yes.

So for 6 months now I have done many things to help improve my EF. I still exercise at least six out of seven days per week, I don’t eat sugar and I also adopted a low sodium diet. The result is a decent amount of weight loss. I also take many medications to address my heart failure.

Now here is the interesting part. Although I complain about not being able to hike because of the virus, being locked down has actually helped in adjusting to my new life. The nine days that I spent in the hospital helped me detox from all of the crap I had been eating and having everything closed prevented me from slipping back into my old eating habits.

So on July 15th I finally go back to my doctor for an echocardiogram. I am hoping that at this appointment I will be given a more concrete plan on how to proceed. It is my hope that I either don’t need any type of defibrillator or they will implant one. The wearable one that I have now is a huge pain in the ass.

Until then, I’ll just keep on keeping on!

HAPPY HIKING!!!