Poster Child

One of the most beautiful words in the English language has got to be remission – not because of the way it rolls off the tongue, but rather, for all it implies.

re·mis·sion
rəˈmiSH(ə)n/
A diminution of the seriousness or intensity of disease or pain; a temporary recovery.

It is most often used in discussions involving cancer, but is not exclusive to that disease. I heard it from my own doctor ten days ago, and while diabetes certainly isn’t as serious as cancer, it was still sweet music to my ears.

I’d gone in for a series of lab tests, the first I’d undertaken since being in the hospital, and the news was just about as good as it gets. My A1C test, which measures the average blood glucose level for the past three months, came back 5.5 – a decent score for an Olympic diving competition and a fantastic one for a diabetes patient. In the hospital, it was 11.5. Anything below 5.7 is normal. And that is why my doctor told me my diabetes is in remission. “There is some debate in the medical community whether or not that means you actually have it anymore,” he said. “At the very least, you don’t have it at the moment.

Umm. Wow. I was not expecting that.

Competition Judge Holding Up 5.5 Scorecard --- Image by © Robert Michael/Corbis

He went on to say that my cholesterol was “ridiculously low” (115), my triglycerides dropped from nearly 2,500 (normal is below 150; anything over 500 is “very high”) to 65 (!), and my BMI/weight are normal. And then he took me off both cholesterol meds, cut one of my BP dosages in half, and called me a “poster child” for diabetes patients and others looking to get healthy, which made me all kinds of humble.

Except on the blog, apparently.

man-getting-hit-by-busBut seriously, this is such good news I can hardly believe it’s true. All my hard work has paid off big time! I have never been so healthy and physically fit in my whole life. Hard to believe just a few months ago I fell into a depression and was convinced I would die an early death. Well, I still might, but the good news is it probably means I’ll get hit by a bus instead of dropping dead from a diabetes-related complication! YES!!!

Err…you know what I mean.

This is all pretty cool. I used to be a child, and when I was a child I had posters on my wall, but I’ve never been called a “poster child” before. I’m not even sure what the job entails or how much it pays. I suppose I should find out before embarking upon my coast-to-coast tour.

(By the way, I used to get teased about those posters on my wall. My brother had bikini-clad swimsuit models. Me? I had Cyndi Lauper tacked up above my bed. “She’s not sexy,” he said. “But,” I replied, “she’s so unusual.” Therein began my obsession with slightly vague pop cultural references).

Cyndi Lauper

Anyway. I’ve learned some lessons over the past few months, and I’d like to share them with you. After all, we poster children are supposed to serve as Inspiration Ambassadors, right? I’m pretty sure that’s spelled out in the job description.

  1. If you are called a “poster child,” do not let it go to your head. Oops. Moving on…
  2. Losing weight is easy. It ain’t rocket science, folks. Expend more than you consume. It’s pretty simple. Finding the strength and determination to make the drastic lifestyle changes required to do so, on the other hand? That’s the tough part. You’ve gotta have willpower.
  3. Actual rocket science is pretty hard. To wit: the equation for determining rocket thrust taking into account the mass flow rate through the engine, the exit velocity of the exhaust, and the pressure at the nozzle exit is enough to make you dizzy. rocket equation
  4. Quinoa is delicious. I was always a rice and pasta guy, but this “ancient grain” is a tasty and versatile substitute that I might never have tried otherwise. Other foods that are surprisingly good, and good for you: brown rice, whole wheat tortillas, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, black beans, almonds, and green tea. Incorporate those into your diet and you are well on your way to success!
  5. Once you give up sugar, you won’t miss it. I craved sugar for about two weeks; and then, never. I’m not saying when a box of doughnuts shows up in the office I look at them and go, “gross.” Nope; I actually want to shove my face right down in there and gobble up a few glazed or jelly filled, scrape the icing from my chin, and lick my fingers clean. But when a box of doughnuts is not three inches from your face, you won’t even think about them. I promise.
  6. The odds of actually getting struck and killed by a bus are about 2 in 1,000,000. You’re more likely to get legally executed (1 in 127,717) in any given year.
  7. Making homemade hummus is a snap. All you need are chickpeas (garbanzo beans), tahini (sesame paste), olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. And a food processor (or really good upper arm strength). You can add pretty much anything you want to that basic recipe. My personal favorite substitutes lime juice for lemon and adds a small can of diced green chilies and a handful of fresh cilantro. It’s better (and cheaper, and fresher) than store bought!
  8. Lydia was onto something with that whole Stevia thing. As far as “artificial” sweeteners go, this one is pretty good! And there’s actually nothing artificial about it at all. The Stevia rebaudiana plant has been used by the Guarani indigenous people of South America for more than 1,500 years.
  9. The Guarani people believe in a forest-dwelling goblin-like spirit called Pombero. He is said to resemble a handsome, thickly bearded, blond dwarf who lives in tree trunks and can be appeased with offerings of honey.THIS is "handsome"?
  10. The best form of exercise is the one you stick with. Some of my friends are runners. I tried it, and I hate it. It’s hell on my shins. I have no interest in pilates or yoga or rowing or high-intensity shuffleboard. But I do enjoy walking, and walking I do. A lot of. 5-6 miles a day, on average. Find something you like, and working out no longer feels like work. It’s just ing out.

And on that note, I am ****ing out of here. Sayonara!

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17 thoughts on “Poster Child

  1. ” And then he took me off both cholesterol meds, cut one of my BP dosages in half, and called me a “poster child” for diabetes patients and others looking to get healthy, which made me all kinds of humble.

    Except on the blog, apparently.”

    BRAVO, Mark! That is EXCELLENT news and I’m so happy for you and proud! You worked very hard at changing you lifestyle and it paid off, so be proud! And I think sharing this on your blog will help others who have diabetes to know that it is possible to correct it and live a long, healthy life.

    And thanks for sharing what you learned. I eat quinoa and hummus and love them both. And I’m with you about running, I never liked it. I much prefer walking, which I do a lot of, living in a city.

    Again, congrats, buddy!

    P.S. I like Cyndi Lauper too.

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    1. “I think sharing this on your blog will help others who have diabetes to know that it is possible to correct it and live a long, healthy life.”

      Thanks, Ron! I always appreciate helping people through my blog. And in real life, I might add. Keep on keepin’ on with your quinoa and hummus! Maybe someday you’ll like them as much as those Philly cheesesteaks you are so fond of…

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  2. Wow! I seriously did not know you could go in remission with diabetes. You kicked its ass, no two ways about it!

    I’m a walker, too . . . Not The Walking Dead kind!

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    1. I had no idea either, and certainly never expected to be one of the lucky few who would actually pull off such a feat. I’m feeling on top of the world right now!

      AND I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead!

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  3. Am taking metformin to pass out sugar. I think I am just at threshold Diabetes II but seems to be working and lost 28 pounds. I like the word remission too. Had 43 radiations this time last year for prostate cancer. Looks like it will stay away with periodic Lupron shot.

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    1. Thanks, Ms. Rude! I never really craved sugar too much before – I was more into savory things, so maybe it was easier for me to give it up when I had to. Stranger was my sudden craving for sugar when I got home from the hospital. Then again, we always want what we can’t have, right?

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  4. Hummus and Quinoa are two of my favorite foods! Happy to hear the good news, Mark! Diabetes runs in my family, so it is something I try to keep at the back of my mind. It’s so much easier to fall into unhealthy habits as opposed to the healthier options. Congrats!

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    1. Thank you, Molly! You are fortunate in that you are young, and well aware of the fact that diabetes runs in your family. It’s always better to be proactive instead of reactive, and if you’re already into foods such as quinoa and hummus, I’d say you have a leg up already! Fortunately for both of us, it’s pretty easy to eat healthy in Portland.

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  5. Awesome news! I’m supposed to be studying for an exam – rocket science and all that jazz – but had to chime in on your terrific post. More jet power to you, Mr. Petruska.

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