An Ode to My Pancreas, a Love/Hate Story

Life is so hectic and dark lately. I’ve got so much going on, some of it good and some of it bad. The world feels like it’s falling apart yet we all just keep doing our thing. That’s all you can do, right? Maybe. I don’t know. Somehow 2020 feels different.

Me? Big things in motion. Work is difficult and rewarding (as always), I’m still separated and divorcing the Wonderful Wife (she’s still wonderful, still co-parenting together, she’s just no longer my wife), and the kids are going batty in captivity… er, I mean… in quarantine. Oh, hey, and my body suddenly doesn’t process sugar correctly which is causing my brain and my entire autoimmune system to freak out and possibly kill me from the inside. No biggie.

I suppose I’m lucky, really. I made it almost 50 years before my body decided to try to kill me. That’s a good run.

This is by far the biggest medical issue I’ve ever had. Hell, I’ve never even broken a bone (knock on wood,) and I’ve never spent the night in a hospital (knock on wood.) HOLY CRAP why did I just jinx myself by putting that in writing? [knocks on all the wood]

Knock on wood. No, this isn’t wood, but it’s not my hand either.

I’ve been “working on” eating better and getting healthy for a long time. For 20 years I’ve been trying to eat more veggies, to cut back on sugary crap. I’ve been slowly making changes with some good success, albeit in small ways. I’m proud of how much I’ve overcome my total lack of real food knowledge and role models, total lack of support. I’ve had lots of well wishers and encouragement, but everyone I know struggles with their weight. So, let me just say that I had already done a lot to change how I eat before this Diabetes diagnosis—though clearly not enough.

Mine is the same old story. My weight has been an issue since I was about 9 years old. I’ve always loved food: eating it, cooking it, baking it, eating it, talking about it, photographing it, and eating more of it. Also, I like eating it.

To top it off, I’m not much on exercise for the sake of exercise. Or for any sake, really. I used to do bodybuilding, but not really regularly enough to get much benefit. I like yoga but never seem to get around to it. In fact, I’ve never found any exercise routine that really works for me. I always get bored and discouraged. Plus, I’ll say it… I’m not naturally athletic. I’m not even a little athletic. I’m not graceful or tenacious or driven. (translation: I’m a lazy, out of shape slob.)

I am Fat Thor. I could do worse.

Don’t worry, I’m not beating myself up too much on any of this. Sure, I look back and wish I had taken it all more seriously, and sooner. That’s how hindsight works. But you have to remember it’s hard for anyone to get super serious about something so vague, even from a doctor. “Hey, do all this stuff and you *might* see results in 20 years.” Who can get excited about that? But now today, hoo-boy… it’s crystal clear that everything I eat or do is pushing me toward either health or ruin. Motivation is not so much a problem now.

The biggest eye opener of all the diabetes stuff is not the finger pricks, or counting carbs, or even the new pills. The part that has shocked me the most is how many people already caught the ‘Beetus and how incredibly chill they are about it. I’m losing my shit with every meal, every new ache and pain. But all the diabetes old-timers are like, “Meh. I just have to watch what I eat a little.” And shocking to me is that most people keep eating a lot of the same foods… even though it makes them miserable.

This has weighed on me a lot the past couple of weeks. Am I doing this wrong? Am I the only one who has to completely change how I eat and live? Why has this turned my life upside down? When will this end?

Of course, I’m not doing anything wrong. My only fault is that I’m very new to this and I’m not framing the conversation correctly in my own head. Yes I’m trying to re-create myself, to change my entire relationship with food, virtually overnight. I want to kick this thing, and fast.

Kick this thing?

Sorry, dude. That’s not how this works.

This is Diabetes, not some head cold or the transient flu. We’re tangling with Ol ‘Beetus himself. This isn’t going away overnight with some cough syrup. It won’t “clear up” in a week, or even a month. This is my life now. And the thing about being alive is… no matter how ugly it gets, you have to just get out there and LIVE YOUR LIFE.

Life goes on, my friends, even if a tiny endocrine gland in your gut is screaming “Help! I’ve fallen and can’t get up!”

My Pancreas, a re-enactment. (no pancreases were injured in the creation of this blog post)

So I live and I learn. Each day brings new challenges and new rewards. It’s maybe not much of a life, but it’s all I’ve got.

In the end, I’m just doing the best I can to soften the impact of a bad situation. And that’s all anyone can ask of me.

Peace and Love, my friends. Peace and Love.

— VVV

Viking Yoga: Day 16

Day Sixteen of my yoga practice.

I felt lousy the last couple days with a head cold so I took two days off. Exercise is no fun when you can’t breathe. So, for those keeping score at home, that makes 10 yoga sessions over 16 days.

If you remember, my very first attempt was Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga, Day One “Ease Into It” video. Sounds delightful and chill, doesn’t it? And, if you remember, I absolutely bombed every pose and bailed completely after maybe 18 minutes into the 35 minute video.

So, ever the determined Viking, I scaled back and started doing her 20 minute Complete Beginners Intro video. I couldn’t do all of those poses either, but I did my best and kept trying until I got better. At least I could hang for the entire video. And, eventually, I could do all the poses. Sure, many were sloppy, but at least I was doing them.

And it has felt great. I’ve seen my muscles strengthen every day and I’m definitely adding flexibility. I’ve reached a point where I’m actually enjoying the Beginner’s routine. In fact, I’d say I’ve gotten a little too comfortable with the Beginner’s video.

So, in my eternal quest to humiliate myself, today I tried the Day One Ease Into It video again and… it damn near killed me.

But you know what? I did the whole thing. I quit a few of the poses early, like planking (you try holding me up for that long) or holding my legs up at 45 degree for the full time she wanted.

But, by the gods, I hung in there for the full 35 minutes today. I flopped, and slouched, and groaned, and swore, sometimes loudly. By the end I was gasping for breath, soaked in sweat. At one point I saw dead relatives waving to me from the afterlife. But, with Odin as my witness, I finished it. I did all 35 minutes.

Now I just have to repeat it every day until I can conquer that routine, too.

I’m doing it. I’m making it happen.

Friends, resolve right now to do that thing you want to do. Conquer it. Make your world better.

You can do it.

You got this.