A personal story of how my man found the way to control his blood sugar
By Vanessa Denha Garmo
It was Labor Day weekend a couple of years ago and we were hanging out with my side of the family at a friend’s pool. My husband, Ron, who had been diagnosed with diabetes a few months earlier and was on a daily dose of pills, wasn’t feeling well that day. He chalked it up to being tired from a busy week at work and having eaten way too many stuffed jalapeno peppers that day.
Diabetes is not uncommon in his family. His father had diabetes along with many other relatives.
As time passed that afternoon, Ron’s face was fading into a pale almost like the peach colored Crayola crayon, no pink hue to his cheeks and his signature smile was not on his face. Barely able to stand up, my bother in-laws Johnny and Scott helped him to a lounge chair.
I was happy my daughter was two-houses down the street playing with a bunch of kids. I knelt down begging Ron to let me call 911 or at least take him the hospital.
“No, I am just fine,” he said. “I just ate too many jalapenos and I have heart burn.”
My sister Vera looked at him and said, “something is wrong Ron. It’s not the jalapenos.”
Just as I convinced him to let me and Vera take him to the emergency room, I could see my daughter come around the corner and into the backyard where we hovered over Ron. I wanted to leave without her seeing him in this condition. She ran over and began to cry.
While my other sisters comforted her, Johnny and Scott helped Ron to the car. Just five minutes from a nearby hospital, Ron was whisked away as soon as we pulled up. Doctors and nurses immediately went into, “he must be having a heart-attack” mode.
They began running tests and one doctor looked at me and asked if I was Editor from the Chaldean News. Knowing how horrible I looked, I was mortified. I knew he wasn’t Chaldean by his last name and wondered, how would he know that? I was out in the humidity for hours, in a pool, no makeup on and I was still wearing my bathing suit with a cover up. I didn’t even think of changing. Turns out he is married to a Chaldean. He read the magazine. He also turned out to be an awesome and attentive doctor.
After running tests on his heart, they took him into the operating room. His heart beat was off.
I paced around praying.
Turns out his heart was in great condition even with a heart-valve replacement.
“His heart looks clean,” said the doctor.
“So, what is it?”
“His diabetes. His blood sugar is more than 400.”
He was slipping into a diabetic coma.
After the anesthesia wore off from the heart procedure, Ron was in a daze as to what happened and why he was in so much pain. I explained that doctors had to check his heart but were able to go in laparoscopically. Nothing was wrong with his heart.
Typical Ron, he saw the bright side of the situation. “That is great. I am so happy they checked my heart. I have been wondering how it looks.”
We spent days in the hospital with specialists coming in and out of his room consulting him, lecturing him and teaching him about his diabetes and how to control it. He ended up on insulin.
For the first few months, he kept his blood sugar somewhat controlled but not where doctors wanted it to be. He was on daily pills and shots of insulin three to four times a day and he hated it.
Fast forward about a year later.
Ron walked into the house limping after a game of golf.
I spent years encouraging Ron to join a golf league. He worked all the time. He rarely hung out with friends. Little did I know what would happen. A weekly golf game turned into golf tournaments, golf trips and golf outings.
He was at a golf outing this day and I had been waiting for him so we could get ready and head out for his brother’s 50th birthday party. I thought he injured himself playing golf but he told me it was an infection on his leg that had been there for days. I looked at his leg and was horrified by the site.
“We have to go urgent care or the ER now,” I said.
“No way,” he said.
“I will go Monday.”
“Not a chance,” I replied. “That can’t wait.”
My sister-in-law picked up our daughter and took her to the party while I took Ron to urgent care which was about to close for the night.
The doctor took one look at the infection and urged us to get to the ER immediately. He feared the infection moved up to his heart and with a metal valve, it could be life-threatening.
I started to shake a bit but knew I needed to stay calm for him. Anyone who knows me, knows that it takes a lot effort and prayer for me not to freak out.
“I am not going to the ER,” Ron said in the car. “That doctor is full of crap. He just wanted to go home for the night and didn’t want to take the time out to treat me. I will go to the doctor Monday. We are going to Mark’s party.”
“Are you crazy?” I shouted now. “He was not blowing you off. Did you hear what he said? It is life threatening if the infection moves to your heart.”
At the hospital now, doctors talked about the possibility of amputation. The infection was bad. An infectious specialist was called in. Ron was once again taken into the operating room. This time to clean the infection.
He was left for days with an open wound.
The same dietician from a year earlier walked into Ron’s room and once again talked to him about his diet. More lectures from doctors continued for the next four to five days while we were in the hospital.
With the help of the physician assistant who was the Chaldean wife of the ER doctor who treated Ron, we found a new endocrinologist and heart specialist. And with the recommendations of friend and physician Michael Kizy, we got into see both despite a long waiting list.
I began texting friends and family to pray for him. I could tell Ron was now freaked out. Amputation was a real possibility but thank God never became a reality.
The infection cleared up and once again, Ron brought his blood sugar levels down from the high 400s.
Never able to get much below 200 even a year after that second scare, Ron made a drastic change. He read about the Paleo diet and began changing his eating habits. It was a 30-day jump start that was the most challenging but after that, Ron was on a steady diet of no sugar, no flour or grains and no dairy.
He has since lost more than 50 pounds and his blood sugar has been steady at 95 to 110 since; he started the diet almost six months ago.
He splurges every once in a while, having his favorite ice cream - pistachio or a bread roll with butter but it’s not often and he won’t go a day without checking his blood sugar.
He is now off insulin but does take a daily pill.
Although his doctors are pleased with his progress, the diet was not recommended by a doctor. He decided to follow it by doing his own research. We are not medically credentialed to recommend this program to anyone. We are merely sharing one health success story and perhaps if you have diabetes you can consult your own physician or dietician about the Paleo diet and do your own research on what may help your blood sugar.
And about golf? He says it’s his exercise. My argument is they use golf carts but he claims there is still a lot of walking. I am going to go with it! He can’t spend all his time trying to earn the green. He has to sometimes go for the green and have fun!