Friday, September 26, 2008

"Did you have a good day?"

I wasn't going to post any follow up to the "I'll Pray For You..." post, as I'd generally prefer to keep my health issues within my "inner circle". Fortunately, I was reminded that there are many friends and fans who care and, after receiving a number of kind and encouraging comments, e-mails, text messages and phone calls, I think some minor update is in order. There's also a point to this post, so if you want to skip the diagnosis and get to the meat, scroll down a couple of paragraphs. :)

Yesterday, I stopped by my doctor's office to go over the results of my lab work. As suspected, I'm diabetic. He explained the lab results to me, pointing out each number, what it meant and why it was (or wasn't) a concern. He explained the specifics about the type of diabetes we think I have, discussed what to expect, what changes need to be made, what my potential risks were and then, after he was confident that I had a good grasp on the situation, he went over his proposed treatment plan. I'm now on medication and will be going back in 2 weeks to check my progress and make modifications to the treatment plan.

With luck, I'll be able to avoid taking insulin, but it's a possibility. With hard work and some difficult changes, I might eventually reach a point where medication isn't required but as it stands now, this isn't something that's going to be corrected by diet and exercise.

On my drive home, I stopped by the store to pick up things I needed. As I was checking out the teller asked if I was having a good day. I had to stop and think for a moment. I started to weigh the good and bad events to gauge my day...I got off work early, so that's good...but I had to go the doctor, that's bad. I found out I'm diabetic, that's bad...but it's treatable, so that's good.

I left the store and headed home, ready to make a few phone calls to people who had asked to be informed of the test results, and kept thinking about whether or not I'd had a good day. It didn't take long to reach an answer, once I realized that I'd already started off by categorizing some events incorrectly.

Yes, I had a VERY good day.

There has never been a better time in all of human history to find out that you have an illness. I was fortunate to be able to visit the doctor and to have health insurance coverage to make the visit affordable. I was fortunate that my condition is fairly well understood, treatable and possibly correctable.

More importantly, as one of my friends pointed out, I gained more information about reality, and was able to form a plan to deal with it rationally and responsibly. Seriously, what more could anyone ask for? I've preached that goal in one form or another, on both programs, for years. 'Believe as many true things and as few false things as possible'...'Understanding reality is critical to making good decisions', etc.

No, I'm not saying that I'm thrilled to have diabetes (although it's possibly the kick in the ass I've needed to make some changes to improve my health) and I'm not just looking for a silver lining...but I definitely had a good day.

And because of that good day, I'm more likely to have more good days.


  1. Great post Matt, sorry that you were diagnosed with diabetes but good to hear that it is potentially treatable and i hope that whatever life-style changes you have to make are not too painful. I recommend visiting the great-outdoors with a sturdy set of walking-boots, i hope someday to do some trekking in your country.

    Health is something we all take for granted until it kicks us when we least expect it. My father has lived with diabetes for over twenty years without insulin and apart from constraints on his diet he manages just fine.

    Greetings from Ireland!

  2. good luck matt. i'm staring down that tunnel toward diabetes too. *everyone* on my dad's side of the family has/had it. my dad was diagnosed about 11 years ago because his vision got noticeably worse. but he stuck to the diet, medication, and exercise (walking 2 miles each day), and his doctor now has him coming in only about once every 6 months. mostly as a formality... i'm in san antonio so i watch the show on google, and it is literally my most favorite thing to see. keep up the good work. anyway, good luck again. stephen

  3. He explained the lab results to me, pointing out each number, what it meant and why it was (or wasn't) a concern. He explained the specifics about the type of diabetes we think I have, discussed what to expect, what changes need to be made, what my potential risks were and then, after he was confident that I had a good grasp on the situation, he went over his proposed treatment plan.

    It sounds like you have a really good doctor. Like a good mechanic, they're quite hard to find. Having the right range of technical competence & personal skills is key.

    I'm very sorry to hear of your health problems Matt. I'm also just having to make a lifestyle change to (hopefully) avoid abdominal pain. My strategy is regular walking, armed with an Ipod full of Non-Prophets & Bob Price MP3s.

    I've been watching the show for a few years now, and I hope you're able to continue your active role for many more years to come.

  4. Its good to hear that your situation is good. I still find it odd that my mom happened to be diagnosed with it only 24 hours apart from you, though. Good luck with your medicine and treatment.

  5. My mom is diabetic as well, but fortunately it's been the kind she can control with diet. One good thing that came of it was that both she and my dad (not diabetic) both went on her same diet once she was diagnosed, and they both dropped so much weight that I literally didn't recognize them. Then not long after that, my dad's doctor discovered a "spot" on my dad's lung, which, happily, turned out just to be an inflammation of some kind and not some ghastly tumor. But they had both already quit smoking as a result of the initial finding, and have been smoke-free since. So the upshot is that, well into their 70's, both my parents are probably in better health than they've been in for years.

  6. That's good to hear Martin, although you may want to watch yourself considering both of your parents ended up diabetic.

  7. Actually, only my mom. But then, I'm adopted anyway. So I don't know what's looming in my future. Fortunately I have few vices. I recently went cold turkey on diet sodas because some recent blood work showed "possible hypothyroidism." No more aspartame for me!

  8. Your doctor sounds excellent, Matt. I'm so glad you're getting good care, as (IMHO) neither "The Non-Prophets" nor "The Atheist Experience" would ever be the same without you. Take care.

  9. I will pray for you Matt!


  10. Pre-diabetic over here. Also attempting to improve the diet and exercise before it gets any worse. Pushing 50 -- a good time to reassess.

    Good luck to you, and yes, your doctor sounds like a keeper.

  11. Congratz, as many other (overweight) americans, your a Type II diabetic. :) YAY!!!

    Out of sheer coincidence, not only am I a Diabetic as well (Type I), but also had the world leading scientist in Diabetics Research as my physician, beat that with a stick.

    To simplify for laymen, a Type II Diabetic have a BROKEN Pancreas, and a TYPE I have a DYING one. Very simple. Generally, Type II do not need to take insulin as they only need to eat less fattening food (everything you eat breaks down to sugar), and preferably exercise, that is, you should do what ALL humans should be doing.

    Mindyou, there are exceptions to this, where they have to take insulin as well, usually if they are highly overweight (very uncommon in the western world but common in the United States because of poor food habits and laziness, ignorance and so forth).

    You can ask any questions about it if you want, any concerns, and so forth. Most likely I know far more then any physician you can have any contact with (especially in the U.S where most hospitals are very inferior to western standard), this i learn by experience.

    Send me an e-mail if you wish ( im glad to help.

  12. Hey Matt,

    Sorry to hear the news, but as you know by now this is not a death sentence - or even a Misery and Gloom sentence.

    I'm a Type 2 Diabetic myself, btw. And you're right, we are lucky to be living now when so much (more) is known and can be done.

    - George in NY

  13. Hi Matt
    sorry to hear about your diagnosis but your optimism is well judged. There has been no better time to be diagnosed with diabetes.(Irony duly noted) With the world on the brink of a type 2 diabetes pandemic, there is a lot of ongoing research in this field.
    Type 2 diabetes, in layman's terms, is due to insulin resistance( failure of insulin to produce appropriate effects at its target site) unlike Type 1 which results from insulin deficiency (underactive/dying pancreas)
    This explains the treatment strategy for Type 2 diabetes (your diagnosis, I presume). Oral medicines to either squeeze out more insulin from the pancreas or increase its effects at its target sites. It is only when these strategies stop working that insulin therapy enters the scene.
    Diet and exercise have a major role in its treatment. This is because Insulin resistance (type 2 DM) often goes hand in hand with high blood pressure and high cholesterol (the dreaded Metabolic syndrome or Syndrome X)
    Your doctor sounds very good, especially in providing you with necessary information. From both personal experience(strong family history of diabetes) and from having looked after patients, it is worth looking into a sensible diet plan( think low carb, low GI, low saturated fat diets) Different things work for different people, especially depending on where you are starting from. Always discuss this with your doctor. Often times regular exercise and a modified diet can reduce your blood sugar swings significantly and decrease the insulin fluctuations. This may warrant a dose reduction or even stopping your medication, hence the caution about keeping a close eye on your numbers.
    I think I have rambled on enough, good luck with your health. It is always a lifestyle shock ,but there is something to be said for being proactive and the feeling of being back in the driving seat.
    Once the information overload sinks in,from family, friends, and yes, sympathetic bloggers, I can guide u towards some good references and articles( peer reviewed, of course!!)if you so wish.

    Good luck!


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