I take many insulin injections a day. I monitor my blood sugar with an obsessiveness that would alarm even that most quantified of selves, Tim Ferriss. I’ve suffered transient ischemic attacks; a sub-arachnoid brain haemorrhage; profliferative retinopathy requiring industrial scale laser destruction of my peripheral retinal field, not to mention a vitrectomy; kidney disease1; neuropathy so bad that I’d wake at night screaming and kick my metal bed frame to dull the pain; multiple hospital admissions for ketoacidosis (that thing that regularly kills diabetics) and a whole lot more you thankfully won’t have to google.
So why on earth am I grateful for this most pernicious disease? Well, it might just have saved my life.
In my family tree, you can find just about every killer disease and it laid many low before their time, including my father. Increasingly, we are finding that sugar is the culprit. The reason why sugar is so terrible is the subject of my next article, but a few years back, I was so sick and tired of my diabetes that I thought it about time I learned something about it, and so I came across Dr. Bernstein. His argument is profoundly simple and brutally effective and I’m going to paraphrase it somewhat crudely.
Imagine that you are a car. As you navigate your terrain, so long as it’s smooth, your suspension and shock absorbers don’t really come into play. Once you hit some bumps, the shock absorbers will activate when the suspension is close to bottoming out.
Imagine that the shock absorbers and suspension are your pancreas and that the bumps are carbohydrate and in some cases, protein. The purer the sugar, the harsher the bump. Well, I’m a car without shock absorbers or suspension. What I’ve got is a manual car levelling system that can never quite match the ferocity of the steepest bumps, nor can it level the car as smoothly as your suspension system will. My system is insulin injections. Coarse, but they save my life. Your system is the working pancreas. Well tuned, but if you abuse it for too long, well, let’s just say Alzheimer’s, cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cerebrovasvular disease and all their buddies are a lot more likely. Cancer’s primary food is glucose in the blood stream and there is now good evidence that while the body can thrive in a ketotic state, cancers do not.2
You see, if I had not decided to treat my diabetes, I would probably not be enjoying the good health and energy levels I have done for the last few years and hope to for the foreseeable future.
So, I’m grateful I’m a Type 1 Diabetic. I’m grateful for this pernicious disease. It forced me to act and what I’ve done has probably saved my life many times over.