In my last post, I mentioned the need to set up my quarterly medical appointment. I did so, and was in luck: I was able to get in just a couple of days later. I got weighed, talked with my doctor, and had blood drawn for tests.
I was pretty certain I was going to have gained weight. I wasn't sure, because I'm choosing not to weigh myself between doctor visits. I figure that, for me, the daily variations in weight disguise more than they reveal, and that only the trend is meaningful. Every three months is enough to show me that trend. At the last visit, I was down fifteen pounds, and I felt pretty sure that I'd gained much of that back. In reality, however, I'd lost another five.
My A1c is staying steady at a range I'm happy with. Most of the numbers in the cholesterol panel are within range. Though my "good cholesterol" is still too low, it's closer to where it needs to be.
Not being the most optimistic person you're likely to meet today, I could become discouraged with what feels like a too-slow rate of change. However, I find myself inclined to take a longer term view. By bringing most of the cholesterol numbers into range over the past year, I've significantly cut my risk of heart disease. I'm maintaining A1c at a good level, reducing the risk of complicationa and perhaps delaying the progression of my diabetes. My weight loss is not fast, but it's real: should I continue losing weight at the rate of five pounds in three months, I'm just a couple of years away from being leaner than I've been in a very long time.
There are other things to be pleased with as well. With the abandonment of deliberate efforts at weight loss, much of the pain has gone out of my relationship with food, and my choices are getting better. Part of that is the success I'm having with learning to better cook for myself: with tasty dishes waiting for me in my own refrigerator, that Mexican place on my way home is not nearly as enticing. And although I'm experiencing some of my depressive symptoms, I've thus far not had any particularly bad spells this winter.
Yes, progress is a bit slow. But it's progress, and progress is something to celebrate.
(Originally posted to diabetesdaily.com)
My friend Megan on Twitter asked me today to name my favorite book, a book I could reread over and over without it getting old. Because I never could follow instructions, my response is below. Many of these meet Megan's rereading test: others I simply found to be amazing. I've been worrying lately because I seem to have fallen out of the habit of reading books -- maybe compiling this list will help get me restarted. I want to reread a lot of them!
You'll note that the list is heavy on essays and other nonfiction. I've read a lot of fiction, but almost all of it has been detective fiction (mysteries). To some extent, the diversity of subjects in the nonfiction reflects my varying interests, but mostly reflects that I'm more concerned with how well a book is written than what the subject is.
Nonfiction and Essays
From Bauhaus to Our House - Tom Wolfe. A book about the surrender of 20th century American architecture to politically-driven European architects arriving in the US before World War II. It's an astonishing polemic: despite a subject that sounds like a total yawner, it's an astonishing exercise in the use of language as a blunt instrument. Pointed and sarcastic. Completely changed my view of what good writing can be. By the same auther: The Painted Word.
Lives of a Cell - Lewis Thomas. A series of lively essays about biology, life, and language by a physician and research scientist. Wonderful. By the same author: The Youngest Science, a personal history of modern medicine.
White Album - Joan Didion. Didion is one of the best-regarded prose writers of our time. This collection of essays focuses on the turbulent years in the late 1960s.
A Year in Provence - Peter Mayle. Very funny first person account of an English family that buys a house in the South of France. Wonderful stories, wonderful characters, wonderful food. Contains some of my favoite lines ever.
Dave Barry is Not Taking This Sitting Down - Dave Barry. A collection of very good short pieces by a very humorist at his best.
Life Work - Donald Hall. Hall is primarily known as a poet, and this book-length essay, about the role of work in our lives, shows it in the elegance of language. Hall's signature in my copy of this book is the only author's autograph I've ever sought: I did it partly just to say 'thank you'.
Simple Cooking - John Thorn. My all-time favorite book about cooking. I haven't reread it in a while, but it's at my elbow right now.
Sayonara, Michaelangelo: The Sistine Chapel Restored and Repackaged - Waldemar Januszczak. This short book blew me away. It's about the restoration Michaelangelo's paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome and the financing of that restoration by a Japenese television network, but it's also about Japanese society, the history of Christianity in Japan, the nature of artistic genius, and a lot of other things. Very influential in my opinions about the arts.
Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made -- David Halberstam. Yes, it's about basketball, but it's about so much more. You'll learn a lot, whether you care about sports or not.
A Roomful of Hovings -- John McPhee. My goodness, McPhee's a great writer. This collection of profiles from the New Yorker features an essay (the title piece) about a man who was director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City which you should read if you're interested in art -at all-.
Tummy Trilogy - Calvin Trillin. This collection of very funny pieces originally published as three books chronicle Trillin's efforts to find something decent to eat as a traveling man.
Soul of a New Machine - Tracy Kidder. A fascinating look at a small company in the early years of the computer industry as they develop a new model of computer. The subject gives no clue as to how interesting it is.
Busman's Honeymoon - Dorothy Sayers. Subtitled "A Love Story with Detective Interruptions", this is sort of a romance and sort of a mystery. Features the character Lord Peter Wimsey. Often funny, often moving.
Aunt Dimity's Death - Nancy Atherton. It's a detective story without bodies and a ghost story that isn't spooky. Warm and fun.
Anulet of Gilt - Phoebe Atwood Taylor. Taylor's not widely read anymore, but this is one of her books set in Cape Cod and featuring 'hayseed sleuth' Asey Mayo. The first few books are rather dark, but most of them (including this one) are quite funny. Taylor's books have a wonderful sense of time and place. This one features the line "I'm just the man people give elephants to." I actually contributed to the Wikipedia article on Taylor.
Light Thickens - Ngaio Marsh. Perhaps my favorite detective is Marsh's Roderick Alleyn. This book, Marsh's last, takes place against the backdrop of a production of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Entertaining and atmospheric.
The Luck Runs Out - Charlotte Macleod. I like a lot of this woman's books. Many, including this one, are quite funny.
Glimpses of the Moon - Edmund Crispin (pen name for Robert Bruce Montgomery). Very funny and yet very evocative. Excellent.
Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster. This is allegedly a children's book. Great. Easy to read, funny, thoughtful. Will change how you look at life.
Crime Wave at Blandings - P. G. Wodehouse. Actually a long short story by the author best known for the character of Jeeves the butler, although this is not a Jeeves story. I cannot begin to tell you how funny this is. It can be found a lot of places, but was originally published in the collection "Blandings Castle and Elsewhere."
I blog about diabetes. I read blogs about diabetes almost daily. I read tweets about diabetes throughout each day. "Surely," you might think, "here's a person who's not going to forget to manage his diabetes." Well, it seems, that's exactly what I've done.
(And stop calling me Shirley.)
Sometime over the last couple months, I stopped daily BG testing. I've slacked off some on exercise, though my body's telling me that I need to pick it up. My diet's not terrible, but it's not brilliant either. I'm not sure when my next quarterly doctor's appointment is, or even if I have one. I don't think I've tested my blood pressure, which I need to keep an eye on, since the last quarterly visit.
The lack of testing is partly due to a stupid issue with lancing devices. (Don't ask.) I could have taken care of that easily: instead, I floated along, reluctant (without really thinking about it) to test in the morning because of the blunt lancet. I've done a few random tests, but "few" is the key word there.
It's just over the last couple of days that all of this has become clear to me, although I knew it at some level. I'm not sure why this has happened, and don't really feel like exploring it.
But, although I'm not going to navel-gaze on it, I am taking steps to fix it. Tonight, I bought a new lancing device (I think this one is Vlad the Fifth.) Tomorrow, I'll call and confirm/make a doctor's appointment. And I'm gonna set a reminder on my phone to trigger morning testing.
I know I'm not alone. I've seen several recent blog posts from folks finding themselves needing to renew their commitment to daily management. Partly for that reason, I can't even make myself feel badly about this. I just need to fix it.
(Originally posted to diabetesdaily.com)
I am not, I must confess, a shining example of dealing successfully with life's challenges. All too often,
my response to adversity has been less than I would want it to be. But, every now and then, I recognize a moment
when folding under pressure would be especially damaging, when the time has arrived to simply push through.
I had a small example of such a moment yesterday. I've been working really hard on increasing my cooking skills,
and I've had some success. I've spent probably half a day most weekends working in the kitchen. I've been having fun,
and I've gone into my work weeks with plenty of ready-to-eat food in my refrigerator.
Yesterday, however, my success almost ended. The previous day had not been a good one. I spent a couple of
hours (not including considerable planning) making a casserole that turned out to be disappointing. I'd also made some
box-mix brownies (for a New Year's Eve event) that turned out -tasting- delicious but were pretty mutant in appearance.
Making these things had covered every inch of my small kitchen with dirty cookware. So, I'd spent much of a day making
food I wasn't proud of - and wrecked my kitchen in the process.
But, I got up yesterday with renewed (if shaky) resolve. I began cleaning up from the
previous day, and while working knocked over my bottle of diet cola. I didn't realize what had happened immediately,
and so I wound up with something of a disaster.
The discouragement I felt was almost overwhelming, and once I'd cleaned up the cola I thought I'd go do something else
for a few minutes. But I know myself fairly well, and I suddenly recognized that if I left my kitchen right then, feeling as
I did, that my time of cooking with joy was likely over. It might be weeks or months before I again entered my kitchen with
confidence and pleasure. It was a time to just push through.
So, I went back to work. I finished my cleaning, then printed the recipes I needed for the day's cooking. I started with
item I could do without a recipe, then started on the next item while the first dish was in the oven.
The day wound up being a success. I did a small beef roast, a butternut squash soup, I had made three dishes I felt good about, and had enough cooked food to make it
through the week doing nothing more than reheating, if that's the way things go. My confidence was restored.
I'm certainly not bragging. A dirty kitchen is hardly a crisis compared to the more serious challenges we face. And, many people push through such challenges every day. However, if you
struggle with persistence as I do, I'd invite you to be alert for those moments when pushing
through the adversity is especially important. That may be going running on a cold morning for you, or maybe going in for
lab work when you're not expecting good news. You may find, as I have on this occasion, that you're better and stronger for it.