Being a doctor is always hard, but at times it can definitely be harder than others. Taking care of friends is especially challenging as some of you may have experienced. Most doctors, I believe, especially those who have long-term relationships with their patients, have more than just a business relationship with patients. After a while you get to know them well, get to know their whole families (often take care of the whole family!), and you genuinely start to care for their well being on a different level.
When taking care of a friend that process is accelertated immediately. Around 3 years ago an old high school classmate of mine came to see me. He is a state trooper, in fact a very good trooper, and works in an area of law enforcement that takes a special person. Growing up he was skinny as a pole, and I was very surprised to find out that he was a very poorly controlled diabetic. When he came to see me his numbers were horrible, and he was not caring for himself at all. That said, it was not all his fault! He had been diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic, and was really Type 1. We tested his pancreatic function and it was essentially non-existent. We put him on insulin, and so began the several years of too infrequent visits where I steadily yelled at him about having to change his life.
When you are young, skinny and healthy on the outside, and a cop; its very, very hard to change your life. Youth can make you think you are invincible despite a bad disease, add a badge to that and it’s a nightmare! He would come in and say all the right things, nod his head in agreeance, and come back the next time with worse numbers. As his insulin requirements went up I talked to him about switching to an insulin pump. His wife was worried that he would feel it was a liscence to eat as he wanted. She was right, but he already thought he held that liscence so what harm could it do?
We put him on a pump and he initially did a little better. His improvement was of course from the pump, but he was soon able to out eat the pump and his numbers worsened again. Now before anyone says anything, I had several long and frank discussions with my friend about diabetes, what it would to to him, how his wife and kids needed a dad…all that stuff…even how diabetes would lead to premature erectile disfunction; nothing worked. He just WANTED his cake and to eat it to (pun intended). It’s so hard to talk to someone who is young, intelligent, and really knows what is going on; yet does not want to change much of what he is doing. He hoped that, as his wife predicted, the pump would be his ticket to eating what he wanted. Despite increasing his insulin, and increasing the amount we bolused him before meals, we got no where.
He started to dabble with CrossFit, that was great, but he still did not address his diet in any significant way. Now it is easy for people in the Paleo community to just say “change your diet man, it’s easy!” Most people who eat Paleo do so out of CHOICE…my friend felt he HAD to do it. It is absolutely human nature to fight anything you feel you are forced to do, and he fought corageously! Now I think he was right in that he was being forced, but it did not make it any easier. I continued to see him and do my best to scare him into changing. When I started Paleo myself I immediately talked to him about it. He did it for a day or so, even texted me a few pictures of his Paleo meals, but it did not last.
On a recent visit we once again discussed his life and health long term. He has kids, and life was starting to show him that he is not as invincible as he thought. We looked deep into his kidney function and I explained that although “normal,” it is nowhere near normal for someone his age. He realized that his body was changing. We went over Paleo AGAIN, and he once again told me he would do it. I didn’t hold my breathe…
I saw him a week ago and for once, he had actually changed. Even more than that, his MIND had changed that he not only could do this, but that he HAD to. His wife and kids were with him, she has been supportive, and he finally felt like he was getting somewhere. More than anything, for the first time I did not have to do any…well, bitching for lack of a better term. He was on board, he was happy with what he was doing, and he had all the determination in the world to continue. Essentially I think my friend had finally seen his mortality, and he realized he has way to much to live for not to change his ways.
So what did he accompish in 30 days?
He lost 8 pounds
His fasting sugar went from 198 to 169
His liver functions (AST/ALT) went from 105/51 to 61/37
His Hemoglobin A1C went from 8.46 to 7.32
The numbers are great, but most importantly my friend saw his life for what it is, and he decided to take control of it. If he follows Paleo the numbers will take care of themselves. For those who know me they will certainly know who this is about. He actually ASKED me to be on the blog and wanted a picture posted, but we will withhold for now He experienced the same thing I did that made me start this blog; the amazement that comes with changing your diet and seeing real results in how you feel followed closely by wanting to tell everyone you know! I will keep everyone posted on how he does, and once he is a little farther along the way, I’ll try to convince him to write up his experience for all of you. (That statement was absolutely intended to pressure him into doing so!)