Friday, September 30, 2011

Diabetes Tips With Captain Russ - Don't make them do it too

How are your nuts?

wonderful walnuts in my oatmeal at 7
first fist-full of almonds with banana around 10
salty sunflower seeds suffuse lunch’s wrap at 1
more almighty almonds with dried mango at 3
perhaps pistachios arriving home at 5
or curry cashews for cocktail hour
and walk the wild side with wasabi almonds in dinner’s salad

I love my nuts!

Refusing The Needle: A Diabetic’s Natural Journey To Kick-Ass Health by Russell Stamets
ebook available for all devices at
tags: type 1, type 2, autoimmune, diabetes, lada, natural, alternative, diet, supplements, acupuncture, meditation, lifestyle

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Diabetes Tips With Captain Russ - Stress & Instincts

"Captain Russ has been there." I realized that knowing how to react is not the same as reacting. You've got to change your instincts.

How can I help without sounding like a crackpot?

I’ve done something that’s not exactly in line with the diabetes establishment. I know it’s relevant right now as this epidemic gets fully ramped up. There’s no way I can be such a complete genetic outlier that my experience doesn’t apply to other diabetics. I think as a LADA, standing at the crossroads of Type 1 and Type 2, my perspective is unique. They’re still guessing about LADA. They know it’s autoimmune, and they know there’s a multi-year year window until insulin is required. That window makes all the difference. In 2009, when I told my extremely evidence-based-medicine-driven physician (DO) that I would do anything to avoid the FSIS (F***ing Shot in the Stomach), he said, “Well, any endocrinologist would put you on insulin now, without a second thought. But there’s no evidence that your outcomes would be any better than waiting until after meds and lifestyle changes have become ineffective.” That was 2 and a half years ago (HbA1c=11.1). The next year and a half progressed exactly as he predicted. The metformin, glipizide and reasonable lifestyle changes initially dropped the HbA1c to 6.4, followed by a slow rise to 8.8 at the end of 2010. We doubled the metformin. The numbers came down, but not as far, and for not as long. By February of 2011, my fasting BS was headed up again. But I didn’t wait for that. As soon as we doubled the metformin, I took charge (I’m sure my wife would call it obsessed). I utterly rejected the FSIS as an acceptable option. If western medicine shrugged and saw only one path... I’d look east.  And I’d look at lower grades of evidence. Hell, I’ve taken at least one supplement based on a mouse study. As long as my DO and nutritionist could see no harm.

So... it’s nearly October, 2011. My HbA1c has dropped to 5.5, and I quit the glipizide more than a month ago per the DO’s OK after my once a day morning fasting BS stabilized below 126 (the magic line on my graph). Fantastic story, huh? Even I, a fairly crusty skeptic, have allowed myself to get a little excited. Have I banished the FSIS forever? It’s pretty undeniable my pancreas is functioning at a substantial level. Have I reversed an irreversible autoimmune disease? It’ll take years to know for sure, but LADA is supposed to be a worsening progression, NOT dropping numbers with fewer meds. Exactly which, or what combination, of strict diet, excersise, supplements, acupuncture, meditation, stress reduction (only achievable via extensive mental re-build) has been/is the solution? We have no idea. None of my team (DO, acupuncturist/nutritionist) can write this up and submit it anywhere. Too many variables. I sure as hell wasn't going to double-blind test myself for each component (or combination) of this “treatment”. I wouldn’t have lived that long, even without diabetes. So you’re not going to hear about this from your doc, or read about it in JAMA. I’m not a usable data point.

I could just sail off toward my now happier and healthier, insulin-free horizon and leave the rest to fend for themselves. But it would seem such a waste not to share the the fruits of my self-experiment. Every body’s different, and would have to customize the recipe, but none of the ingredients are new, or costly. So I ask again, both longtime diabetes warriors and newly diagnosed alike, how can I lend my body of evidence to help without sounding like a snake oil salesman?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Daily Bingo Game

This snapshot of the last few months of morning fasting blood sugar measurements shows my dramatic descent into normal. Was it the diet, supplements, acupuncture, meditation, solar flares, or some combination thereof?

Diabetes is a numbers game. Some people test throughout the day. Some never do. After a year and a half of only sporadic checking, I began consistent morning fasting blood glucose testing last February. The danger with even that frequency is that you obsess... but, I needed some way to gauge the effect of all the lifestyle, diet, exercise, and medication changes my healthcare team and I are trying. Over time patterns emerge. Combined with the details of what I eat, stress events, and activity levels, we've found what works for me. For those that like numbers and graphs, here's the Dropbox link to my daily tracking excel file.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

If You'd Rather Have a Daily Shot in the Stomach Than Give Up Beer...

Then you'll want to find another story.

Mine won’t be the only recipe for success in the fight against diabetes. But a recipe to follow isn’t the hardest part. You’ve got to rearrange your head to find a sustainable solution. As in forever. Can I eat grilled chicken and quinoa wrap-type things for the foreseeable? Probably. I can definitely eat fruit and nuts every day until I die. But it’s going to be different for everyone. Just how critical is the caffeine? When that chocolate crave hits, will granola suffice? Can you change your job and your life as necessary to jettison stress? Is it worth it? To Live? Hard for me to fathom a NO answer. But I’ve had a good life and wouldn’t mind adding to it. But not as a martyr. I have to believe this is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Not all will make the choice to live as a nutritional ascetic. Some will opt for the shot, an excuse not to go whole hog (pardon the pun). They’ll keep drinking, and they’ll rationalize the cookies and soda and the rest. “And the rest.” Those three words encompass the hardest bits. Figuring out who you are, actually going around and beyond those things we say about ourselves to others, and to ourselves. And we say it for enough years that we believe it, because it’s never tested.

All the comfortable, known, bedrock assumptions, actions, stunts, anecdotes, hobby specialties (rum, beer, Mexican food), philosophical positions, assessments of strengths and vulnerabilities, affiliations, bigotries, pipe dreams... it’s quite a “put your money where your mouth is” experience if you undertake such a tear down and re-build.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Diabetes 101

For those not already experts on the flavors of diabetes, let me provide a quick primer. Type 1 and Type 2 are really two different diseases. They both have the result of abnormally high levels of blood glucose. That causes lots of problems that can kill you either sooner or later. There are 2 ways those levels can get high and that pretty much defines the difference between Type 1 and 2. Your pancreas creates the insulin that allows your body to use the glucose. This action happens in cells that can become resistant to insulin. A Type 1 has a pancreas that's not producing enough insulin. A Type 2 has cells that are resistant to insulin. Either way blood sugar(glucose) goes up.

Type 2 is far more common. It can be acquired through unhealthy lifestyle. And it can be controlled with medications or often reversed by discontinuing the eating of crap. Type 1 is genetic. It's an autoimmune disease that has the body attacking it's own pancreas, killing the production of insulin. It's universally believed to be irreversible. People with Type 1 inject insulin constantly to prevent deadly blood glucose levels. The majority of Type 1's are kids, who at a certain age, quickly lose their capacity to produce insulin. A recent development is the emergence of a variation of Type 1 that affects adults over 35. It's thought to be genetic, but possibly triggered by stress and lousy diet and exercise. This variation is being called Latent (or Late-onset) Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults. LADA takes longer to kill the pancreas than the juvenile version of Type 1. It can be 6 years between onset and when the insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas are so far gone that shots of insulin (or a pump) are necessary. Diet, exercise, medications, and everything that works for a Type 2 will work for a while with LADA, but with diminishing returns.

That's all terribly over-simplified. But it will suffice as a set of terms to help decipher my story.

My LADA: A Bird's Eye Perspective on a Misdiagnosed Piece of the Diabetes Epidemic

It's time to share. Much of the focus here will pivot to the story of my fight against Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA). My choice to bare, publicly, the details of this personal journey is not lightly decided. For my first 51 years, I've been quite private. But I've discovered a few things that may help others. I'll now post my body of evidence (pun intended) and findings to give anyone with diabetes or other chronic autoimmune/inflammatory diseases another perspective.

For my first 50 years, I guzzled beer, ate anything I chose, and was reasonably healthy and slim. Then I was told I had an irreversible autoimmune disease, a form of Type 1 diabetes called LADA. And the only road led to insulin, a daily shot in the stomach.

I said "Hell No. I'll find another way."
And I have. It's required a complete tear down and re-build to change the deep roots of stress and habit. But the result, besides normal blood sugar, is feeling better than I have for years, a whole different outlook, and expanded vs. restricted plans and dreams for my next 50 years.

This site will become the repository of what I call the evidence, including any documentation or results of my curation of the science around diabetes, autoimmune disorders, diet, exercise, and stress. For now, check out my Delicious bookmarks for a raw collection of my online interests. The "type 1" or "type 2" tags will filter for the diabetes links.

It's in daily conversations at work or at play that I most commonly find myself telling this story. Online, it's either in comments here, or via my twitter feed (@russellstamets), or on Google + (Russell Stamets) that the day to day thread will be spooled. If something I relate sparks a question, please ask, or comment.

As for disclaimers, is it not obvious? I'm no doc. I'm not offering a specific formula or recipe. Anyone who does is dishonest of deluded. Your solution, particularly resolving the stress component, will be utterly unique to you. You've got to build your own body of evidence. If you decide you trust my voice, it may help steer you to your goal.