From Ramadi to Better Blood Glucose

I typically have an easier time writing about things in the past because everything has been settled and it’s really just recounting the Five W’s with a few jokes. The areas where I struggle to write are when things are still in progress, for instance, home improvement. I’ve also been thinking about my health situation in this writing context and why it’s been a challenge.

To be blunt, I don’t really have a solid diagnosis, but it’s somewhere between Type 2 and Type 1 Diabetes. There are different names for what I’m most likely suffering from, Type 1.5 and cryptic Type 1 are the two most popular, that I’ve found anyways. No matter where on the Diabetes spectrum I actually am, there is one thing that needs to happen for me to prolong my lifespan and improve my health span, and that’s to control my blood sugar.

So what the hell does better blood sugar have to do with Ramadi? Well, this is one of the few times that I’ve been able to hold in my mind how I got from point A to point G, even though they’re unrelated, and I want to write it down…even though the story isn’t yet complete.

I’ll put the starting point at March 28th, 2019. This is when I attended the Spring Symposium for the Chico Executive Group. The main presentation was led by Echelon Front, a group of retired Navy SEALS that now do business consulting based on their founders book, Extreme Ownership. I would say nothing in the book is revolutionary, but they had to re-learn these lessons while getting shot at and then did us all a solid by writing them down with explanations on how they apply these principles of combat and leadership to situations where you might not be getting shot at, which are the ones I hope to limit my experiences. This group of SEALS were part of Task Unit Bruiser and were a big factor in The Battle of Ramadi and the Al Anbar Awakening and you can read all about it elsewhere if you want that backstory.

But their presentation at the CEG Spring Symposium led me down an interesting path, specifically and unexpectedly towards better blood sugar levels. As with a lot of good presentations, I get totally jazzed and start to immerse myself in the topic. I bought, and read (well, listened on Audible), Extreme Ownership. I subscribed to the Jocko Podcast and in one of the back catalog episodes I decided to listen to, Jocko mentioned Dr. Peter Attia. Then in another episode Attia was mentioned again and the name stuck, so I checked out his podcast and was immediately intrigued.

The Peter Attia Drive Podcast “is a weekly, ultra-deep-dive podcast focusing on maximizing health, longevity, critical thinking…and a few other things.” I’m interested in all these things, so I scrolled through the back catalog of that podcast and came across episode 41 with Jake Kushner, a pediatric endocrinologist and the topic was how to thrive with type 1 diabetes. Yes, please! I don’t want to live forever, but…you know. I’m in no rush to stop.

This episode is overflowing with great information and it’s been incredibly helpful, but we’re not done yet! Inside the episode they both talked about Dr. Richard Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution book. Combined with the Jake Kushner information and this “solution” in book form, I have been able to dramatically improve my blood sugar levels, better understand what is impacting my blood sugar levels, and how to better utilize insulin and exercise.

What is “better”? Better is having normal blood sugar levels (Bernstein recommends trying to aim for 85 mgdL, but 79 to 110 mgdL is generally accepted), with low variances between lows and highs, without having to rely too much (this varies greatly depending on how hosed the Beta cells in your pancreas are) on exogenous insulin. It turns out that just injecting a ton of insulin to cover eating crappy food (read: high in carbohydrates and/or sugar) is not a winning strategy. Who knew?! I could go into all the details, but the book is a much better read than anything I could give you.

As an aside I’ve yet to see an endocrinologist myself because the waiting list is about three months. Because we have the best health care system on the planet. Or so I’m told. So, at least now I feel that while I wait I’m doing less damage to myself.

So, that’s the path from the Battle of Ramadi to my “better” blood glucose values. It’s been fun learning new things at every step of the way and discovering unexpected paths leading to better outcomes.