The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

The Chocolate Came Back To Bite Me!!

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My annual appointment at St. Joseph’s in Hamilton was on Monday the 4th and Nat and I drove into Hamilton without a care in the world. Thinking this was going to be one of my “usual” appointments my bubble was burst as soon as I sat down in the Doc’s office. With my chart in front of him he spoke those words I really never wanted to hear – “your potassium and glucose levels are up high enough to give us concern.”  Bluntly put, but naively not knowing what to expect. I know that high glucose levels can possibly be a sign of Diabetes and as I had very little knowledge of that disease I was taken aback from what the Doc soon asked (or ordered) me to do.

Not wanting to admit the full and honest truth I stated that I have been on a chocolate bar binge these last couple of months. (In honest truth, the binge was massive for me, at least, and there was no way I would tell the Doc how many a day, or he’d fall off his chair.)  Pulling out the sweet talker in me and saying “I’ll be good”, I was still unable to sway the Doc in letting me go for another year. This time he wasn’t buying it and promptly told me:  “You have to lose 10 pounds, and I want you to take a test for possible diabetes.” Full Stop!! He advised that if the diabetes test proved to be “prediabetes”, that he could treat it with medication to make it go away and I would only have to be careful after that. So before we left, he supplied us with a Potassium Chart (foods that are low to medium in potassium), orders to drastically cut off the chocolate, my blood work form, diabetes test request and my usual hug. I’m thinking he knew I was a bit upset, even though we still had our usual laughs, and that the hug this time was for positive reinforcement. Being a tad bit superstitious – if Monday starts out really good, then the rest of the week would follow. However, this Monday wasn’t starting off well, and the rest of this week would follow accordingly.

As an aside to my visit – when the Doc walked into the room, he was followed by an Intern who was shadowing him, and who turned out to be one of my dialysis nurses at the Hotel Dieu in St. Catharines. We both looked at each other as if we had met before and sure enough, she recognized me from my dialysis days. It wasn’t long before we started to chit chat as Nat and the Doc looked on in wonderment. When I saw the puzzled look in his eyes, I soon cut if off and returned to business. It was nice to see Anne Marie again.

Our conversation during the drive home was very productive. I told Nat that I was a bit disappointed and a tad upset at the news, but admitted I needed that. The scare would wake me up to reality and now knew that I had to lose the weight. Nat was in full support of the diet, said that he would join me so we could work together, and that our workouts could be done together, alone or however we wanted to arrange our routines. He did tell me that he, too, has gained a few pounds since our marriage, but I begged to differ. In my opinion he still looks damn good! Could I love the man any more – he was on board and going to back me all the way. I’m also thinking he’s going to be my little loveable “nag”.

The diet for me and Nat was going to be a bit testy, to say the least. As potatoes are high in potassium, that meant I could only have them once (or sometimes twice) a week, but only double boiled to remove most of the potassium or mashed. French fries were now a major NO NO. The two most precious foods to me – fried potatoes and chocolate. The chocolate, naturally, was another major NO NO. Laying off that little evil treat might make me go into withdrawal, but for the sake of my health – what must be done, must be done. 

The exercising for the past couple of weeks has been successful. After my pill routine at 9:00 am, I’m then downstairs walking along on the treadmill while watching TV. Time quickly passes once I get my mindset into the show I’m watching. Nat and I also agreed that having a little wall-mounted TV in front of the treadmill has made a huge difference – no  more boredom. I’ve even been able to increase my pace today and was proud of myself. A chart of my successes, and setbacks, has helped and shows the progress (albeit slow) but certainly pushes me forward. So far I’ve lost 3 pounds (despite the prednisone I’m taking that makes you gain weight). A small but positive step towards my goal – an actual 20 pounds! Let’s see if we can really make the Doc’s jaw drop a year from now!

This past Monday I went for the 2 week blood work required by the Doc. Having never had a diabetes test, I did my research prior to going – talking to my pharmacist and searching the internet. The test involved having blood work done, drinking a glucose enhanced drink of (what everyone calls) highly sweetened orange pop, wait two hours and then back for another blood test. With reassurance that the drink wasn’t as bad as “those others” I’ve had, I was only partially skeptical, but when she poured the small bottle of “pop” I managed to down the stuff within the 5 minute requirement. (They were all right, it wasn’t as bad as that “other stuff”). The next step threw me (and Nat) a curve ball. We were both under the impression from the Doc and our pharmacist that I could go home for the 2 hour wait. They were all wrong. According to the lab technician, the patient has to stay in the lab for the full 2 hours. As they had administered a highly sweetened drink, they needed to keep an eye on the patient for any unusual signs (allergies, or whatever). I suppose some may go back home and sneak something to eat or drink, which was also not allowed. As Nat and I were expecting our investment adviser at 9:30, I would miss him and not be able to ask the questions I wanted answers to. Plus, if I had known previously I would have brought a book or my iPad to at least amuse myself during that period. I picked up my cell to call Nat, but within a second the batteries died. The lab nurse kindly let me use theirs and after speaking to Nat I could tell he was a bit taken aback and asked what he should do about Andy. I told him the questions I was wanting to ask, plus his own, and with his very quiet “Okay, I see you later and good luck” we said our goodbyes. The two hours passed faster than I anticipated. I was able to grab a Zoomer magazine with a couple of good articles to read and then sat quietly watching the comings and goings of the lab for the remaining 45 minutes and last blood test.

Once I arrived home, Nat and I got caught up on each other’s little adventures for the morning and soon returned to our daily routine. Having that sugar overdose taste in my mouth along with feeling full after that drink, I still managed a sandwich for lunch so as to remove the sugary taste, along with a good brushing of my teeth.

As of today, we’ve both been able to handle the cutback on those beloved potatoes and I’ve gone cold turkey on the chocolate (who on this earth knew that would be possible!). Our meals have been low-cal, low-potassium and quite tasty. Our previous meals were always close to what we’re eating now, except for the cutback in spuds. We still eat a lot of fish (trout and haddock), which we both love, chicken (which is very versatile), a pork tenderloin now and again, along with good veggies or a salad and we come away from the table feeling pretty good. We’re now those “conscientious” consumers who check the Nutrition labels on food packaging.

As this Monday started off with a bit of a “bump”, my superstitiousness continued today. Feeling quite perky after the workout, I whipped up a coconut loaf for my sweety. Popped that light and fluffy batter into the oven, waited an hour and put it aside to cool. In the midst of fixing our lunch, I turned the loaf pan upside down to remove it to the cooking rack, and surprise, surprise, half of it wouldn’t pop out. As it started to fall onto the rack the damn thing broke in half on a slant. One quarter of it remained in the pan, along with the bottom of the other half. Falling apart over our kitchen table, I soon realized I didn’t spray the loaf pan very well. Nat and I had a bit of a laugh – that’s the way our week’s been going. I’ll try again tomorrow. We’ll just manage to finish off this week and hope for better things to come starting on this coming Monday!

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Author: Twila

Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada, with 5 sisters and a brother. Now retired, my husband and I travel, play golf and am slowly renovating our new (old) home. After my kidney transplant in 1999, we've learned to enjoy life to the fullest. Nat and I have driven across Canada, taken an Alaskan cruise and drove home via the Northern United States. We've also been to Mexico, the Caribbean, the East Coast of Canada and Cape Breton. We've done the "Snowbird" thing, having lived in Destin, Florida for a couple of months of the year. In 2007 we changed our travel plans in order to move into and renovate our new "old" home, but hope to someday get back on the road again. We also love returning to Scotland (Nat's origin of birth) to visit his family and tour the Highlands and surrounding Isles.

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