Saturday, August 27, 2016


by Karen

Every year round about January/February ever since I turned 40 or 45 (I forget now), I have always tried to get my annual check up.  I usually turn up at my OB/GYN and I do my blood fasting test, urine test, pap smear and get my annual references to go see folks to get mammograms.  I go over my previous year with my doctor.  Remind him that I no longer smoke. Talk about my menopausal issues and get my many prescriptions refilled.

As the years passed my boss (Laura) encouraged me to go see a female doctor as she felt that I was not getting proper care.  As an aside I recommend this to anyone who will be reading this blog.  And so for the last 2-3 years I have been going to see a really nice female doctor.  At first I saw one of her colleagues but I was not impressed and so I went to see her colleague and let me tell you I cannot recommend her enough.

The first thing this great doctor did was take out her tape measure.  Yes, you heard right. She took out her tape measure and placed it on her desk and then she started talking to me.  And we talked, and we talked and we talked.  I felt like I was in a therapy session.  Then she started her examination.  It was thorough and she asked questions as she went along.  That was 2015.  At that time I had just turned 50 and so my annual visit was comprehensive to say the least.  Apart from taking a thorough medical history, my new doctor gave me referrals to every doctor whose specialty ended with IST.  Opthalmologist, Endocrinologist, Cardiologist, etc.  You get the drift.  I got, for the first time, a comprehensive health check.

Last year and the year before and the year before I was told that I was pre diabetic.  I read up on it, tried to eat healthy foods, exercised a bit more, but this year it all came crashing down.

From March of this year I have been feeling tired.  I thought it was because I was working so hard, but apart from that I was hungry all the time. Very hungry.  I would be at home and just be eating and eating and eating.  I started to get ear infections, a lot and what prompted me to finally go to the doctor was the pain in my chest and shortness of breath that I started to experience.  I became very afraid.  And so I took myself to my doctor.

Unfortunately for me my regular doctor was not in and so I saw the next best thing.  She diagnosed me with asthma and had me do a fasting blood test.  2 days later the results of the blood test came back and I was called.  I was told that I had a high A1C and that it was nothing to worry about but I would be placed on metfornin.  I had no idea what that meant and getting this news over the phone did not help.

As most folks do these days I turned to the internet and researched this medication. Saw that it was prescribed for folks with diabetes and thought to myself, well I don't have diabetes I just have a high A1C and so I kept searching for what this diagnosis meant and all I saw was news items relating to diabetes.  I was understandably confused.

I discussed all of this with my boss and she encouraged me to have all my medical records from all my doctors transferred to this fantastic doctor and so I did and made an appointment to go see her.  The rest as they say is history.

Not only did Dr. Richens (yes I am naming her) provide a comprehensive consultation with me, but she told me that this is not the end of the world. She asked me if I had pen and paper and because I have a notebook that I take to doctors appointments (please folks, if you are over 50 do this.  You will never remember the questions you need to ask your docotrs and you will always forget what your doctors say by the time you leave the office).  She started talking and I started writing.

Diet:  Low carb, high protein, vegetable diet.
Fasting blood glucose - 100-130
2 hours after main meal blood glucose - less than 200
30-45 minutes of exercise every day
Referral to a diabetic educator
Referral to a podiatrist (with an explanation about proper foot care)
Always have neosporin/polysporin at all times
Examine my feet on a daily/nightly basis for cuts
Referral to my opthmalogist for a diabetic eye examination

It may not seem like a lot but for someone who had always previously maintained what I thought was a healthy lifestyle, this diagnosis was a shock to my system.

I now had to go out and purchase a blood glucose testing kit.  I had to record what I ate and when.  I now had to make better food choices.  It was a daunting task.

I reached out to a family member of mine who is a health practitioner.  I started to tell her about the diagnosis.  She was encouraging.  I worried about proper food choices.  She said to me.  Why are you worried about that. That is the easiest part of this whole thing. Eat like you did when you were in Jamaica.

As I continue to go through this journey, I will start providing recipes and information to Caribbean people who are no longer living in the Caribbean and who are battling illnesses due mostly to the fact that they are no longer eating like when they lived in the Caribbean.  I can tell you that since I started eating in the way I was raised.

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