The Road to RDville: Hypochondriac? Me?

Hello. I’ve been a bit absent, as I’ve been getting ready for midterms. I did take a break with half of the students in my program (literally, 11 out of 22) yesterday to enjoy a nice lunch at Serafina as part of Seattle Restaurant Week. I failed to take photos (too busy talking and eating), but I had a butternut squash salad followed by a lamb sausage over white beans and braised kale, finished with a wee chocolate-espresso panna cotta and a teeny biscotti. And lots of water.
Speaking of water, one topic of discussion at my end of the table was how people could potentially improve their health a lot if they did these three things:
  1. Drink enough water.
  2. Eat nutritious food.
  3. Exercise regularly.
Really, it’s a crying (and sometimes dying) shame that so many people treat their bodies like crap, filling it with junky food and not moving it enough, figuring that if (I should say when) they get sick that doctors will “fix” them. That’s a lousy way to treat your car. It’s a horrible way to treat your body. First, your body is waaaaay more important. Second, you’ll own your body longer than you own any car. Third, some illnesses are much better prevented then “fixed,” because once you have them, you can’t really fix them, you can only try to prevent them from causing even worse problems. Take type 2 diabetes, for example.
This week, we’ve been studying diabetes in my Nutrition & Metabolism class. Now, I write about diabetes a lot for a general audience. I thought I knew diabetes pretty well. I know realize that prior to Sunday (when I started reading the assigned research papers), I knew about 10 percent more than what I needed to know to write effective, useful articles for Joe and Jane Smith. Today, I know about 1000 percent more, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg, since I’m no endocrinologist.
Honestly, I sort of used to think that type 2 diabetes wasn’t as bad as some diseases, because “at least you can control it.” Holy heck, people….you do not want to get diabetes. If you know you are at risk (i.e., you are a woman who’s had gestational diabetes or you have parents, siblings or children who have type 2 diabetes), I beseech you to start making any healthy changes you need to make in your lifestyle right now! If you already have type 2 diabetes, I beg you do what you need to do to keep your blood sugar levels in line. Seriously…I beg you. Don’t make me come to your house.
High blood sugar is so very, very bad for your body, in all kinds of horrible ways. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. It rarely has symptoms, and they are often subtle (increased thirst and urination, etc.) so you can have high blood sugar for a long time before you suspect something might be wrong with you. If you have not had your blood sugar tested, or haven’t in a long time, please do so. And if you’re afraid of what you might find out, don’t stick your head in the sand. It’s better to know, and deal with it, then not know…and possibly die.
Thus ends my public service message. What about the hypochondriac reference in the post title? Well, I do have a family history of type 2 diabetes. The last few days, I’ve been fretting about the state of my pancreatic beta cells (the cells that make insulin). It’s possible that beta cell function is sub-par in people at high risk of type 2 diabetes, even if they haven’t exhibited problems with blood sugar. So, much as a pregnant woman will talk to the child still in her womb, I find myself wanting to talk to my pancreas: “Hello, little beta cells. Are you doing OK in there? You’re not going to crap out on me, are you.?
I swear I’m not crazy. Or truly hypochondriac. My appreciation for my current good health has deepened, however, as has my resolve to stay as healthy as possible, for as long as possible. I can’t wait until I get to take Nutrition and Chronic Disease next term. Truly…time can’t pass fast enough.