Straightening the Curves, Flattening the Hills

The past couple of days, after lunch, my blood sugar spiked and crashed. Not to unsafe levels, mind you, but enough that I got really tired when my blood sugar crashed back down. 

Yesterday, I noticed it as I was sitting in a presentation at work after lunch and I needed help staying awake. Because I made some not wise dietary choices--having some sushi, which includes rice--I actually checked my blood sugar two hours after lunch. Sure enough: my blood sugar was higher than I expected. When I checked an hour later, it dropped 30 mg/dl.

Today, I had a similar experience. This time it wasn't due to my breakfast or my lunch choices, which were fairly low carb. But I'm guessing it's something that was in the trail mix I had been eating at the office the past couple of days: Raisins. The amount of raisins I ate over the past couple of days was not terribly excessive (1-2oz a day), but clearly it was enough to spike my blood sugar.

A quick look on the Internet suggests raisins both have a high glycemic index and a glycemic load, the latter of which is more important in that it helps determine how quickly the sugars will hit your system. 

Just to give an example based on recent dietary choices: An apple has a glycemic index of 36-40, but a glycemic load of 6. Meanwhile, raisins have a glycemic index of 53-75 and a glycemic load of 28. Rice is similar to raisins in this regard.

Bottom line: I need to avoid things that I know will spike my blood sugar.

Well, That Didn't Escalate Quickly

I just woke up in the middle of the night with one of those headaches. You know, the kind that, for the last couple of years or so, would quickly escalate to a migraine complete with nausea. It's something I mentioned to my doctor during my checkup and he confirmed its a likely symptom of the previously undiagnosed Type 2 Diabetes.

The good news is that the headache did not escalate into a migraine and the Excedrin I took did not come back up. The bad news is that it woke me up good and now I can't get back to sleep.

It's too early to say if the migraines are gone or not, but this appears to be a small step in the right direction.

A New Machine

Earlier this week, when I got my new medications, I also go this stuff:

Yup, it's a blood glucose monitor. There are many like it, but this one is mine. Fortunately I only have to use it twice a day: once in the morning before I eat and some other time during the day two hours after I eat. Some people, particularly those with Type 1 Diabetes, have to use it far more often.

My doctor sent me to a program where I had to get trained on how to manage my diabetes: using the equipment and how to eat so it doesn't get worse. My upcoming travel schedule made scheduling this in a timely manner difficult, but I did manage to get a session in with an educator before my next trip. The dietitian will have to wait, but I have a feeling the dietitian won't tell me anything I don't already know.

Mentally, I'm all ready to go down the low-carb road. Turns out I don't need to go quite that strict in terms of carbs, like I was on Atkins, but I think many carb-rich foods are "trigger" foods for me. In other words, if I have a little, I'll suddenly want to have a whole lot. They also want me to watch my fat intake because it apparently affects insulin receptors.

Using the machine to check my blood sugar is not that difficult. It is a lot of moving parts to manage: the lancer, the test script, and of course the monitor. Last night, I actually tried using it in my car--it was parked--and that was probably not the best place to do it, but I know I will have to do it on an airplane in the not too distant future.

When I got the results for my blood test back from my first doctor's visit earlier this month, my fasting blood sugar was 153 mg/dl. My first reading at the educator's office? A nice reasonable 114 mg/dl. The educator was suitably impressed. Quite honestly, I was amazed. When I did it in the car last night after watching the Gig Harbor Tides wallop the Olympia Bears 45-14 on the gridiron, I was down to 100 mg/dl. This morning before breakfast? 105 mg/dl.

I know it's early in this process, but so far, it looks like what I'm doing in terms of diet, exercise, and medication is having a positive impact. I even managed 9 hours of sleep last night, which is unheard of for me. I'll have to keep monitoring the situation, of course, but so far, so good.

The real test comes when I have to take this show on the road, which will be happening tomorrow.

Just Take Your Meds, Son

After receiving the news earlier in the week, I had a followup consultation with my doctor today to discuss the treatment plan for my diabetes.

The good news: he thinks it will be manageable. It's going to require some meds, dietary changes, and of course exercise. And monitoring my blood sugar regularly. No insulin, thankfully, which I imagine would make my travel just that much more challenging. 

The cocktail of drugs I now have to take meant, for the first time in my life, I had to get a pill minder. You know, a container that has several compartments--one or more for each day--that you fill with your doses of medications. You can tell at a glance if you've taken your pills or not and all the pills you need to take are in one place. I needed one for two different compartments per day. They also apparently they also make them with four different containers per day. That's quite a lot, but depending on the meds you're on, I could totally see that being needed.

New meds, of course, means I need to pay extra close attention to how I'm feeling for the next several days. Things have potential side effects and, while unlikely, I could be one of the rare ones that experience them. Reading the drug inserts the pharmacy includes with the drugs is always a scary experience. 

Next up is learning how to use the new hardware that I'll be using to monitor my blood sugar. That won't take place until Friday. I won't be able to meet with the dietician to set a diet plan until after I get back from California, but the basic idea appears to be: avoid carbs and sugar to keep my blood sugar low. The good news is that I did Atkins a decade ago so I have some experience with this, and was even successful at it for a time.

Earlier today, when my energy was at a particularly low point, I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood. I wish I had started doing this before the weather changed into the typical fall weather patterns around here: periods of sun and rain that, as fall turns into winter, gets colder and colder. I managed to get out during one of the sunny periods and walk around the neighborhood for a half hour or so. It felt pretty good. 

At the end of the day, I've taken the first steps towards getting healthy. I have awareness, I have a plan, and I've started acting on it. I just need to keep taking it day by day.

The Big D

I've been called Big D at various points in my life. Comes with being a large guy most of my life. Now, it has a different meaning.

I've been a bit negligent in terms of keeping healthy, I must admit. I've been having migraines from time to time and my legs have been swelling--anything from a little to quite a lot. The swelling started getting really bad on some of these long trips I've had over the past year or so. But, of course, I never went to the doctor, despite some nagging from my wife I should do so. 

I don't know why I resist going to the doctor. Mostly because I don't like what they're going to tell me most of the time, namely that I'm fat and need to lose weight (both of which are true). That said, it's the only way to make sure potentially bad health issues get caught before they become really bad. 

One of the business trips I have to take in the very near future requires getting a yellow fever vaccine. This requires a prescription. Which meant, if I was going on that trip, I had no choice but to see the doctor. 

Since it's been a few years, I also got a physical, which included notes about my blood pressure being high and printouts from my doctor that basically say, you know, you're a fat bastard and you should really lose some weight. We discussed ebola, since it's in the news and I'll be passing through some countries where it has recently been an issue. And, I got a couple of other shots I hadn't considered.

Part of getting a physical is getting a blood draw and having various things checked. Most everything was normal except one thing: my blood sugar, which was high. Which meant they decided to run an A1C panel against the remaining blood to see if it's been a persistent issue. And, sure enough, it has. 

That means The Big D can only be one thing: Diabetes, Type 2. 

It wasn't the answer I was hoping for, but it explains a whole lot. Since that message came from the person reading me lab results rather than my doctor, I will be shortly returning to the doctor to discuss what the next steps are. I'm pretty sure it means making some lifestyle changes at the very least.

Gotta admit, I'm a bit nervous and scared about it all. That said it's better to live in the light of the truth than in the darkness of denial. 

Cassidy's Pizza

My dad had always been a musician as long as I known, anyway--at least until he couldn't play guitar anymore because of his hands. That and smoking were two things I most strongly associate with my dad.

When I was very young, I remembered going with my dad to Cassidy's Pizza in Salinas where he would perform on-stage. I even performed with him one time and made my first dollar there, which hung on the wall of my bedroom in a frame with some sort of certificate. I also got my first taste of pinball and video games there as well, which of course were very different back in the mid-1970s.

When my sister sent me this photo she recovered from my father's stuff recently, it brought back a lot of very early memories.

Does This Describe Me Professionally?

I'm going to give a talk at West Sound Technology Association in the near future, and I have to write one of those dreaded "about the presenter" blurbs. Here's what I came up with, I'd love to get your feedback.

Dameon D. Welch-Abernathy, better known to some as PhoneBoy, has been in Information Security for nearly twenty years. Starting as a systems administrator for several small companies and then moving into a technical support role for Nokia's Security Appliance Business, Dameon has helped numerous IT professionals secure their organizations networks. Now working for Check Point Software Technologies, Dameon brings a blend of business acumen, product expertise, and technical know-how to solve customers business and security challenges.

Living in Enemy Territory

I have been a life-long 49ers fan. It probably has something to do with growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area during the beginning of their Superbowl run during the 1980s. It's the kind of thing that something like moving will not change, and based on the number of displaced 49ers fans out there, I'm not the only one!

Check out this map made by Facebook of Seahawks vs 49ers fans based on "likes" that proves my point:

Clearly I'm living in Seahawk Country, which means showing my true Red and Gold colors is not always appreciated. Even so, I only have two pieces of 49ers swag: a hoodie my wife bought me, and a iPhone 5s case I bought a couple weeks ago and just arrived today!

I wear my 49ers hoodie fairly regularly during the chilly months except for weeks that the 49ers are playing the Seahawks. Not because I don't want to represent, but because I don't necessarily want to draw undue attention to myself on game weeks. 

This, however, is no ordinary game week. This is the week of the NFC Championship and the pundits and fans have been waiting for this game all year. The rhetoric from both fan bases has cranked up to ridiculous levels, with stats flying from both sides saying why their team will win, copious amounts of trash talk, Seattle bars banning 49ers fans from coming in, and worse.

In short, it's the kind of thing you'd expect from any sort of rivalry, however the 49ers Seahawks one is relatively new in the pantheon of NFL rivalries. The 49ers and Seahawks were not division rivals until 2002. Seattle had several appearances in the playoffs during that time--including winning NFC title game in 2005--but did not win a Super Bowl. The 49ers, meanwhile, were unable to make the playoffs for 8 straight years starting in the 2003 season. 

Then, as they say, shit got real. The 49ers made it to the NFC Championship game in 2012, only to lose to the New York Giants in overtime. In 2013, they made it to the Super Bowl, only to lose to the Baltimore Ravens. And, for the third straight year, the 49ers are in the NFC Championship game. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have made it to the playoffs 3 of the last 4 seasons, losing in the Divisional Round the previous two times, but winning the NFC West in 2013.

When you add in the rivalry that Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll brought with them from the Pac-12 (Stanford vs USC), the fact both teams operate and are built a similar way, the fact the 49ers have won their last 4 post-season games on the road, the Seahawks being hungry for Super Bowl rings, and a 15-15 tie in the overall series between the 49ers and Seahawks, and you have the makings for a NFC Championship Grudge Match that only the best scriptwriters could come up with.

My experience with Seahawks fans is they are generally respectful. Same with 49ers fans. A little good-natured ribbing can and does occur. However, there are the 1% of fans who are not and, ultimately, ruin it for everyone else.

Since you never know when you'll encounter that 1%, it's sometimes best to hide in plain sight. And since I can appreciate good football--even when it's played by a rival team--it's actually not too hard to do. That said, to those 49ers fans living in the Seattle area, know that your fellow 49er faithful are out there.

Tom Merritt's Daily Tech News Show

Not wasting any time after leaving TWiT, Podcaster Tom Merritt has already started a Daily Tech News Show. You could say it's another iteration of the Buzz Out Loud or Tech News Today format: top headlines with some in-depth analysis and discussion with guests, audience participation, and a snappy theme.

Both Tom's new podcast and his former podcast, Tech News Today, are undergoing a public beta of sorts during their respective (re)launches. They both have their rough edges, but it's clear Tom has been doing this for years as DTNS, aside from a few technical glitches during the two shows he's done, sounds very crisp. Mike Elgan, who just took over for Tom on TNT, is still finding his sea legs, it seems like. 

I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to listen to Tom Merritt doing the tech news again without feeling like I'm supporting TWiT because y'all know my feelings on TWiT. And with the relaunch of Current Geek, we get a TWiT-less weekly roundtable discussion show, too.

Lessons from The Breakfast Club

Earlier today, I recorded a "podcast" about this:

If you want to subscribe to this podcast--it's more "personal" and less technical in nature, put this in your RSS feed: http://chimp.li/u/phoneboy/a.rss

Anyway, while I kinda rambled here, the main message of the movie "The Breakfast Club" is that we all have more in common than we might think. If five kids from different backgrounds can find common ground, surely we all can, right?

Also, Except Sometimes, the jazz album from Molly Ringwald? Awesome! I had no idea she could sing so well!