By MarthaMerrill on December 28, 2012
I've been so consumed with life's all-consumingness that I actually forgot I'm pre-diabetic.
Beginning two full days before Christmas (during our first round of celebrations) Santa's cookies were lovingly decorated with colorful frosting (code: sugar) and then eaten like popcorn; popped into my mouth one after another after another.
Four days of chocolate cream pie, real whipped cream, chocolate and peanut-butter Santas, chocloate-covered marshmallow Santas, gold coins, too many cake pops (that cake pop maker was a bad idea) and way too much of Sam's lemon cake later, last night I went to bed feeling the internal zigging shake that happens when blood sugar goes awry (too high). I'd forgotten how scary that can be. Still unaware (or unwilling to accept) that I'd caused this reaction in my body, I even tweeted a message that said, "Sugar buzzed. Make it stop!"
It wasn't until this morning, though, following a night of constant trips to the bathroom (night-time peeing is a sign of uncontrolled diabetes) that I realized how the excessive sugar was affecting me and my health.
It's been ages since I tested my blood. A few months after my diabetic diagnosis I began marathon training, which allowed me to stop all medications (exercise is great at controlling diabetes).
After the marathon (almost a full year ago, now) I tried to keep up the high levels of running, but suffered injuries that made it tough. Recently, the most I've run is two or three times a week and never for more that three or four miles at a time. For months I've been complaining about the added pounds from the limited exercise; neglecting the blood sugar issues that propelled me into high mileage running in the first place.
For people with diabetes, controlling their sugars is imperative. More worrisome than a few added pounds from too much Christmas cheer, uncontrolled blood sugar can create major problems like kidney failure, nerve damage, heart failure, and diabetic glaucoma.
My online re-education into diabetes research this morning has reminded me, too, of sugar's habit of raising serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin, the brain chemical (that when balanced creates a mellow mood and feeling of wellness) is often lacking in people who are sugar-sensitive. Could this be the explanation for my mad dash toward sugar in times of mounting stress?
Interesting, as well, is what I learned about the brain chemical beta-endorphin and how it is affected by sugar. Beta-endorphins act like pain-killers in the brain, and sugar causes their release. When too much sugar is consumed, the initial feeling can be giddiness or silliness (similar to the effects of too much alcohol). Once the beta-endorphins drop, however, emotions are difficult to manage and craving more sugar is a common result.
For now, the girls are with their dad and I'm back in my bed. A headache is raging, for which I've take some Advil. When I wake (if I sleep) I'll get dressed for a run (or a walk, whatever it turns out to be) and know that the movement of blood through my system will level out the sugars and ultimately make me feel better.
The saying goes, "If you don't have your health, you don't have anything."
Reclaiming my health is empowering; doing it to be healthy (and well) and not for superficial reasons like fitting into smaller jeans, makes it feel less like a chore and more like an adventure.
Do you have diabetes or know anyone who does?
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