Before & After: A.D.

from Dr. Bernstein’s book “Diabetes Solution”
© 2007 by Richard K. Bernstein, M.D.

A.D. is a fifty-five-year-old former typesetter whose diabetes was diagnosed fourteen years ago. As with many other people who use our regimen, his test of average blood sugar (hemoglobin A1C) and his tests for cardiac disease risk (cholesterol/HDL ratio) simultaneously dropped from high levels to essentially normal values.

“I watched my mother deteriorate in front of me from the complications of diabetes, finally resulting in an amputation of the leg above the knee, and a sorrowful existence until death claimed her. My oldest brother, who was also diabetic, was plagued with circulatory complications that resulted in the amputation of both feet, with unsightly stumps. Diabetes robbed him of a normal existence.

“When I began to experience the all-too-familiar diabetes symptoms, my future looked bleak and I feared the same fate. I immediately searched for help, but for two years floundered around getting much medical advice but not improving. In fact, I was getting sicker. My doctor had said, ‘Watch your weight,’ and prescribed a single daily oral hypoglycemic pill for my Type II diabetes. It sounded easy, but it wasn’t working. My glucose levels were in the 200 range all too often, and occasionally reached 400. I was constantly exhausted.

“I started Dr. Bernstein’s program in 1985. Since then I have recovered my former vitality and zest for life. At my first visit, he switched me to another approach— a fast-acting blood sugar–lowering pill 3 times a day, before meals, along with a slower-acting pill in the morning and at bedtime. My regimen was totally overhauled to eliminate foods that raised blood sugar, and to reduce greatly my consumption of carbohydrates in general. Macaroni and ravioli had been important parts of my diet since birth. I had to give these up. I didn’t mind a greater emphasis on protein. I even began to include fresh fish in my diet.

“My initial reaction was that these restrictions were too high a price to pay, and that I would be unable to continue them for long. Also, I was asked to check my blood with a blood sugar meter for a week prior to every visit to Dr. Bernstein. That meant sticking my finger several times a day. I was willing to discipline myself for a short period in order to be able to return to a more active, vigorous life and to put my malaise to rest. At the beach, I was sorely tempted to give up the diet, while watching family and friends eat without restrictions. But since my body was feeling healthier, I continued with the program. After about two months, with many dietary slips on my part, I managed to better discipline myself because I sensed it made me feel better. My glucose level started to descend to 140, 130, and finally to 100 or less on a consistent basis.

“Dr. Bernstein also encouraged me to purchase a pedometer, a device that clipped to my belt and measured the distance that I walked each day. I began to walk daily, holding 3-pound weights and swinging my arms. This was yet another thing to bother with, and I felt it would cut into my free time. But the result was an invigorating high. By this time, I didn’t mind pricking my fingers several times each day, as it showed me the way to better blood sugars. Fortunately for me, New Rochelle has many beautiful parks. I chose Glen Island Park because it is near Long Island Sound and nicely kept. This meant getting up earlier in the morning to walk during the week, but that was no problem since I am an early riser. I bought some cast-iron dumbbells for additional exercise. I learned about arm curls, overhead raises, arm circles, and chest pulls. I didn’t realize that there were so many different exercises that you could do at home to benefit your health.

“My glucose levels are now consistently within or near the normal range, not at the sorry levels which nearly put me in the hospital. That all-consuming fatigue is gone, and I feel that now I’m in control of my diabetes instead of the reverse. With adherence to the program, I know that I don’t have to suffer the same debilitating effects that afflict so many other diabetics.”

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