So this morning I met an amazing person, Doctor Peter Hill, of Atlantic Beach, Melkbosstrand. Through a number of serendipitous events, I had the privilege of having a consultation with Peter that has changed my mind about food forever. But I am getting ahead of myself here, so let me go back a few months.
Once a year, round June or July, I review my policies, and have a few necessary health checks. Prudent behavior, as this year, during some routine tests, my blood sugar was diagnosed as being higher than normal. After consulting with my regular GP, I was prescribed to go onto two types of medication, to take some exercise and was told that I have type II diabetes and would now be on chronic medication for the rest of my life. Admittedly, my initial reaction to this news was somewhat morbid and morose. I felt a little depressed, and I can now admit, a little angry that I had contracted a disease. Anyway, not being the type of person to wallow in my own misery, I started taking the medication, hoping that the side effects would not be too bad and that they would pass quickly.
I discovered first hand what so many women lament about. Bloated, nausea, and irritability were just some of the symptoms, coupled with stiffness in my legs and arms and painful joints. For the first time in my life, I felt old, I struggled to get up in the mornings, and simple activities became cumbersome. Another visit to my GP and he told me to stop taking one pill, and upped the dosage of the other one. Almost immediately my symptoms improved, and my overall sense of wellness returned. I felt more energetic and able to sit in front of my PC for longer periods again. Happiness! After a few more days, I felt almost normal. I had made some changes to my diet – I had to cut out cakes and biscuits (my yummy shortbread would be missed by all), and naturally cut out all added refined sugars from my food intake. Fortunately for me, I had abandoned sugar in coffee years ago, and was already used to the taste. I miss my cakes and sweets, but I am willing to make the sacrifice if it is going to add quality to my life in any way. I quit smoking (again) and again felt immediately better.
Then about a week ago I called Dr Hill and he agreed to see me. He asked me to keep a record of what I ate for the next few days, and also some other basic information I was to bring along. On arrival at his practice today, I shared my food diary with him. After listening carefully, and then explaining to me in detail how diabetes worked, he talked about how cells carry sugar and how they affect vitals etc. Having satisfied himself with my medical history, we moved on to talk about my diet in some detail.
And then he dropped a bombshell. Without any doubt or hesitation, Dr Hill informed me of the biggest mistake I was making in my diet, something so serious that could have exacerbated my condition by continuing to eat the way I had until now. The major culprit, for people with my type of diabetes, is the consumption of carbohydrates. Yes, the comforting effect of bread, pasta, pizza, rice and fruit I loved so much could have been worsening my diabetes. Without going into too much detail, the effect of carbs on the insulin resistance of my blood cells would be worsened over time, and now I embark on a new eating plan. This plan encompasses a complete view of my wellness, from my point of view, and is custom designed for me, and to fit my needs. So after googling around for some more information, I am astounded to read how many people follow the low carb/high protein diet of Dr Bernstein, and how the best route is to follow a course of trying to normalise blood sugar through better diet.
Anyway, I digress. The point of this post (?) is that I wanted to say that the whole experience with the good doctor was sort of surreal. Sort of how things should really be in medical practice – no rush, no focus on the cash payment at the end, just a genuine concern about my well being. I mean, how often does a doctor say to a patient that he is the expert? Never! But not this doc. He asked me to approach the coming 12 months as a journey where I share how I feel with him, and he guides me through the theory of medicine. I felt the need to share this with other diabetes sufferers. You do not have to suffer, there are doctors in the world who practice for the love of helping people. And you will find them in the most unusual places. Dr Peter Hill, I thank you sir, for restoring my faith in your profession.