Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Claire's Off to College

Major milestone for us all -- Mary, Kelly & I all took Claire down to James Madison College (http://www.jmc.msu.edu/) at MSU last week to move her into her dorm. For those of you inclined to write, thats 665 Case Hall, East Lansing, MI, XXXXX, and Claire would like to get mail. You get a 20 minute parking pass to unload, and that meant two trips up the elevator for us, even with my wheeled cart. She will likely do well with her roommate Andrea -- they had a loft installed to get their beds off the floor and make more room, and put a carpet down. Modern dorm life includes a refrigerator, microwave, water filter, TV, DVD, latptops with 811.g wireless network, I-Pods with speakers, and on and on.
How did I feel as a parent? Well, I dropped something off in Claire's room after she, Kelly, and Mary had gone down to the cafeteria to eat, so I went down the stairs instead of the crowded elevator. I was behind another couple that had just dropped their daughter off, and the Dad said "Well, she's in!" (the dorm). Without missing a beat, the Mom said "Well, she's out!" (of the house). That pretty much sums up the ambivalence I feel. I miss her terribly, but know she's 90% ready to be out on her own. She'll learn a tremendous amount in the coming year, both academically and as an adult in this world of ours.
I've been resisting the urge to call her a bit, and happily, she's called me several times, and not just for money! I think she misses her family and home a bit, and that's good I guess. I know I value every minute we talk about not much of anything too important. Email is also an interesting way to communicate with her -- I try to update her on doings up here along with the "college business" we need to conduct. It's interesting to watch her gradually take on adult responsibilities like properly applying her tuitions and learning to run a checkbook, debit card, and credit card!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Type II Diabetes

Well, I guess I'm not so different after all. After reading for years of the "epidemic" of diabetes in the U.S., I guess I'm among the hundreds of thousands with TypeII -- the kind where I'm making plenty of insulin but not using it well. I seem to have been heading toward this for years. My blood sugars got high enough that my internist wanted to start measuring my average blood sugar over the past 3 months with a measure called A1C. This technique takes advantage of the fact that free glucose in the blood binds irreversably to hemoglobin, and the red blood cell supply regenerates itself in 3 months, so that glucose bound in this manner is directly proportional to the average availability of glucose over the last 3 months. So my A1C at first was 6.7, then 6.2, then 6.3, and that didn's satisfy my doctor. To me, I"ve eaten well for many years. I was vegetarian for 9 years, 5 of those narrowly macrobiotic. I am back to eating widely for 20 years now, but I don't drink pop, fruit juice, don't eat candy, etc. But it turns out that history has done more to keep my cholesterol low than my blood sugar. But now I'm going further back -- whole grains only, e.g. But the real surprise is learning about my portions. I had no idea that the 1/2 cup of roast almonds I casually had in the evening for a snack was 850cals! I feel so smart in some ways and so dumb in others. I'm in the food business and know a lot about nutrition, but am WAY off in thinking about appropriate portions. Some of that comes from feeling so deprived -- I swear I eat 1/3 of what I used to eat as a young man, and thinking of eating less just seems too little. So I'm taking diabetic classes to learn about all this, and also using a neat little glucose meter that determines my blood sugar in about 5 seconds -- cool technology. It really is interesting to confirm that my blood sugar is lowest in the morning after sleeping and fasting, and highest about 2 hours after eating grains, or 10 minutes after eating something obviously sweet. Duh! Anyway this late education is somewhat revelatory for me. I continue to exercise rigorously 3-4 times a week, and have never had this much muscle mass in my life. But the diabetic folks say less exercise but daily is more effective for their purpose, and my doctor says he doesn't care about my muscle mass, he doesn't want me to weigh this much. So much for my sense of what's good for me! So the only other thing to blog on about is that I've had peripheral neuropathy in my feet for over ten years. That means my feet have gotten progressively "numb" (some would say that's true of my brain as well). This is a symptom that can be caused by many things, but usually diabetes. But when this symptom started my blood sugar was normal. The latest research is now finding that many people with this "preceeding" symptom are turning out to have, guess what?, Type II Diabetes. And that's the rest of the story. What do I know anyway -- just a poor boy from Palmyra MI.