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My Journey Back
A Story of Diabetes

by Sam Hoover  

I guess like many people, some moments in your life seem to stand still to be burned forever in your memory. That moment for me was when I sat in my doctor's office and she calmly looked me in the eye and told me I had advanced type 2 diabetes. I felt myself go into that numb state where you wish somehow you could wake up from this bad dream and go on with your life. Then the second shoe dropped, "Due to kidney damage, I would have to go on high dosage insulin shots immediately." I kinda knew something was happening regarding my health, but it began so slowly I assumed it was just my years catching up with me. The changing eyesight, aches and pain, fatigue, etc. Strange how so many thoughts can pass through your mind so fast, and from such extremes. I had always joked about taking "The Long Swim in the Ocean", it scared me when that image appeared in my mind. As the doctor went to get the "equipment" I would now need to use several times a day, my mind went back to my father who within a matter a months went from a strong vibrant man who loved work and the outdoors to a shell of what he was, filled with fear and despair from diabetes complications.  

Now I was faced with a decision; do I give up, submit, or fight. Being the logical scientific mindset I am, I began to rationalize what was happening and how to fight it. I assumed my high blood sugar levels were coming from eating sugar and carbs, so if I simply cut them out of my diet, I should get better. For the next month I became increasingly depressed and fatigued as I went from one grocery store isle to the next, reading labels, seeing everything I loved becoming "forbidden fruit". My blood sugar levels were still high and my insulin shots were becoming larger and larger.  

Then I stumbled across a series of words on the Internet which captured my full attention, "Diabetes reversed through vegan diet." I immediately scoured the Internet for everything I could find as I knew this was my last chance for a normal life. Slowly a picture began to form as more information was found. At last I began to understand what had caused my diabetes, how my body was responding to it, and even more important, how to fight it. I was not a victim of bad genes, or an "Act of God," rather my body was simply giving up the fight after years of poor eating habits.  

So with this information in hand, I made the life-changing decision that no matter how painful or difficult it was, I was going to totally commit to this lifestyle change. As I prepared myself, I was amazed at how simple this lifestyle was. Nothing fanatical, no sackcloth robes, just healthy normal eating. No meat, diary, processed cereal, eggs, fish, and only healthy bread. And although this seemed to narrow my eating choices radically, as I looked further, a whole new world of foods appeared which I had not considered before.

So, info in hand, I made the commitment and started my journey. It was fun, as I really do love to cook. At first my meals were simple, and then they became more varied as I tried different things. One of the first foods I tried was tofu. I had heard of tofu before, but to be honest, had never tried it. At first glance, it did not have a very appealing appearance but a quick scan of the Internet revealed a wealth of information and recipes. I learned not only the many different kinds of tofu and how to prepare it with other foods, but learned that it had four times the protein of beef without any of the fat or harmful animal proteins.

Soon I was printing out reams of recipes for tofu dishes and even my teenage son who had all this time been giving me the crazy eye, enjoyed many of the dishes. I also discovered the effects of high glycemic foods which spiked my glucose, and began to learn which were friendly to my system. I replaced quick cooking oatmeal with steel cut oatmeal, which had so much more flavour. White breads were quickly replaced with much more favourable rye, dill, and pumpernickel breads, and white potatoes were replaced with delicious yams and sweet potatoes.

To further explore my new world of healthy eating, I found vegan-friendly restaurants in my area and made special note of their dishes and how I could prepare them at home. Snack food like potato chips were replaced with fresh fruit, rye crackers with hummus, and many other healthy snacks. The strange thing was how little I missed my old foods. Somehow my body knew what was hurting me, and once the addicting elements where out of my system, their desire completely disappeared. Now my days are spent not thinking about a juicy hamburger, fries, and a shake... but a wonderful dish of fresh vegetables or pasta prepared with wonderful ingredients which have a taste that meat could never touch.  

Then something happened, the constant sick feeling I had grown used to faded away, my eyesight began to return to normal, my stiffness and pain disappeared, and I could actually focus on my work. My blood sugar began to drop… dramatically. I went from a reading of over 500 to an average of 150 within weeks. The insulin shots I had to take were reduced to keep up with the changes my body was going through.  

The most exciting day of my life was two months later when I went back to my doctor for a follow-up visit. To both her and my amazement, my A1C1 had dropped from 12.6 to 6.2, my triglycerides went from 1575 to 150, and I was taking only a very tiny amount of insulin as needed, sometimes skipping several days between shots. And the most beautiful words I had ever heard were "Your kidney function has improved enough for you to go on oral medication." I started to cry because I knew I was being given my life back.  

Today I am taking oral medications only as needed, which is very infrequently. I am feeling alive, happy, and loving life again. My new lifestyle is not a compromise, but a blessing that I love every day. I am so happy I took the time to find out the answers and make the decisions which changed my life. I only wish more people would take the journey I have taken. Diabetes should not to be managed, it should be reversed. Nothing is worth having your cells clogged with excess fat so glucose can no longer enter your cells regardless of how much insulin your body releases. This leads to your body becoming unable to use its own insulin. Dairy and meat proteins attack the cells which create insulin, so it becomes a vicious cycle. Fortunately the human body is wonderfully complex and will repair itself as mine has, when it is given the chance (through a healthy eating lifestyle). You cannot replace your life… you have only one… take care of it.

It is my hope someone reading this article, benefits from what I have learned.  

I am 54, and from beautiful Oregon. I love life and the outdoors, which reminds me I need to do more fishing this year! I have a beautiful loving wife and together we try very hard to enjoy each day and all it brings us. I have a stupid little saying I keep telling my kids… "People, circumstances, and events, do not change who you are, it only reveals who you choose to be".  Simple but so true. I love God and I am so grateful for all He has given me, especially my health. If you wish to contact me, please do via email.

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