Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The "Solution" ?

Is it really possible for a Type 1 Diabetic to have the same blood sugars as a non-diabetic? When Adele was diagnosed, I remember the doctor telling us that there was currently no cure for Type 1 Diabetes, but that it was “controllable”. Today, I would have to disagree. Our experience has been that it’s “manageable” at best. We actually often feel out of control.

Coming back to my initial question, what level of blood glucose control is possible for a Type 1 gamer? Is it really possible for a Type 1 gamer to normalize their blood sugar? These are big claims made by a controversial US doctor by the name of Richard Bernstein.

I'm always reluctant when I hear of miracle cures and treatments that seem to good to be true, but I also don't like to simply sit and not look for something better for Adele. For this reason I just had to order Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution book. He is the first doctor that I've ever heard suggest that Type 1's CAN normalize their blood sugar. He was one of the first to discover the benefits of blood glucose self-monitoring. He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 12 years old in 1946 and is still alive and well practicing medicine. His theories are far removed from what we were taught by our Diabetes care team upon diagnosis, but I still need to see what this is all about.

I have only started to read the book, so these are only my initial impressions. This will not be a book review or me trying to persuade you to go buy the book and throw your current gaming plan out the window. The purpose of the post is to share my quest for a "solution" and the importance of sometimes challenging mainstream conventional thinking. Here are a few points that attracted me to Dr. Bernstein’s philosophy:

Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution is based on a very restrictive low-carb diet. Since Type 1 Diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the sufferer cannot properly metabolize carbohydrates, doesn’t it make sense to avoid or restrict the cause of the problem: carbs? With Celiac disease, ingested gluten makes me sick. The treatment for Celiac disease is quite simple and logical, avoid gluten and stay healthy. And I am living proof that this Celiac treatment is highly effective. I feel great. When I adopt a diet that works WITH my body instead of against it, I minimize stress and maximize health. Shouldn’t diabetics also adopt a diet that works WITH their body instead of against it?

For us (and many other Type 1 gamers), low blood sugars often happen a few hours after a big meal. The bigger the insulin bolus to cover that meal, the faster the blood sugar can potentially drop. I know that there are different techniques that try to fix this problem, but how often do they really work like they should? Simple math tells us that by reducing carbs, you reduce the insulin bolus to cover them and also reduce the severity of making a mistake. Being off by 10 or 20% is much greater when dealing with big numbers compared to smaller ones. Again, simple logic that just makes sense.

After over 8 years of Type 1 gaming, there is no doubt in my mind that it is just not possible to be able to eat what you want, when you want and still maintain your blood sugar in range all of the time like in a non-diabetic with the gaming tools that we currently have at our disposal. There are just too many variables. But is low-carbing the solution? It’s a touchy subject. Some just don’t believe it to be a healthy alternative while others simply cannot live without the pleasure of enjoying foods rich in carbohydrates. If it were me, I would definitely give it a try. But on the other hand, if someone told me that if I kept on biking that it would eventually have a negative impact on my health, I’m still not sure I’d be willing to give it up.

Dr. Berstein’s “solution” may or may not also be our “solution”? I don't know, but I do know that I am commited to keep looking.

Incredible things often happen to those who are just too stubborn to stop searching for something better. Dick Hoyt knows this. What would have happened if Dick had listened to the doctors when they told him that his son Rick, who was born with Cerebral Palsy, should be put in an institution since he would never speak or walk and would be a vegetable for the rest of his life? You may have already heard about the story of “Team Hoyt”? If not, I hope that this video inspires you as much as it does me…


Lora said...

I have read just a little about this so I am no expert. If it were ME with the diabetes... I may be able to follow a strict no carb diet and though I don't think it would save me from all insulin... I do think it would reduce the need. But for a child... I can't do it on a daily basis. I also think they need some "healthy" carbs to stay healthy.

Even with the pump we do not go carb crazy, because Justin does indeed drop like a brick with high doses. But on the other hand I am in such fear that Justin will rebel that I try not to limit(within reason). I am a firm believer in "you want what you can't have".

I don't blame you for searching because you never know whats around the corner. Besides, she is worth the search :)

Mike LeBlanc said...

Thanks Lora... I also agree that such restriction is not the best for a child. It does however give me hope that there are "solutions" out there when Adele is ready (or chooses) to commit to them.

Wendy said...


I'll be looking forward to your thoughts as you make your way through the book.

Like Lora, I feel like **I** could probably stick to a low/no carb diet, but I'm not sure my 7 year old would be nearly as happy if I tried to persuade her to do it.

I LOVE that video, btw. Makes me cry everytime.

Pablo said...

incredible video! heard the story before but even as I watched it again I had a hard time fighting back the tears... should have more stories like these in the news! truly inspires!

Nathan said...

I have been following Dr. Bernstein's approach since 2003. It's the only thing that has worked well for me. I am willing to eat whatever gives me the most normal blood sugars. I still have my indulgences, but they have evolved into things that are special but don't throw me out of range.
My nine-year old son, who is not diabetic has chosen to eat the way I do because he wants to be more fit. It was his choice and we support his decision. But, with kids I think it helps to have them buy into it. When I was a diabetic 12 yr. old I baked and ate cookies like nobodies business. Felt lousy too.