I was a little cocky when I saw my doctor’s name on the caller ID. He was following up with the results of my blood work from my yearly check up. I had come a long way on my lifelong health journey; a chubby adolescent; a teenager who went on extreme diets to lose weight; turning to healthy eating and fitness in my 20s and 30s; and then teaching healthy cooking classes ever since.
This past year since my last doctor’s appointment, I had upped the ante by participating in an 8-week health challenge called the Whole Life Challenge. I did so well that I decided to become the captain of a team, helping others by eating only whole foods and exercising. In addition, for an entire year, I had eliminated processed sugar completely from my diet and only ate healthy carbs.
I was very excited to hear what my doctor had to say since he had been toying with the idea of putting me on a statin for borderline high cholesterol for years. I was certain that the sugar elimination would make a difference, showing him that food is indeed medicine. I was proud of my hard work and was looking forward to the blood result payoff.
I was thoroughly unprepared for what happened next: Not only had my cholesterol levels not improved, but my doctor explained that I was now two points away from being prediabetic.
I felt lightheaded and nauseous. Unbeknownst to me, my doctor had taken a sugar test called the A1C which averages the blood sugar levels over a 3-month period. My results showed that I had a 5.5. He told me that the official pre-diabetic numbers on the A1C test are between 5.7 and 6.4, and that with these numbers there is a risk of developing diabetes. Anything above 6.4 is considered full on diabetes. He suggested I reduce my intake of healthy carbs and exercise more.
“But I already do all of that! I’m so healthy!,” I exclaimed.
“Just reduce the healthy carbs to 5 servings a day and exercise more,” he told me. He detected the panic in my voice and continued to say, “look at the bright side; had you not been so healthy, you might have already developed diabetes.”
This was no comfort to me, and I found myself entering the first stage of grief identified by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: Denial. This is the stage where one says it must be a mistake. That the blood work must belong to someone else. That I must have eaten too many dried dates in the last few weeks and the numbers got skewed. That all those raisins in the trail mixes I was eating must have done a number on my levels. It had to be a mistake!
Stay tuned for my next blog post to see how my situation progressed with even higher levels of blood sugar, and how I worked through the next stages of grief to figure out what I needed to do to get healthy.