The year 2010 faded out leaving some nasty surprises in its wake. I was 47 years old and not in a good place, health-wise. In November 2010 while having dinner one day, I lost my voice. I freaked out, not knowing what happened. It took more than 24 hours for my voice to come back. More on this later.
I also had terrible pains running from groin to ankle — so bad, that even turning in bed was excruciatingly painful. I also started getting skin eruptions/bumps randomly around my temples. They would erupt suddenly, stay for a few hours and then subside. A mild headache often accompanied these eruptions. There came a point when I decided that I’d had enough. I decided to consult my Doctor, who also happens to be a close acquaintance.
Valentine’s Day, 2011
This is the fortuitous day that I chose to meet with my Doctor-Friend. He ordered a battery of tests to get to a probable cause. I was in for a rude shock when my test results came back with PPBS 229 mg/dl and FBS 129 mg/dl. At that time I weighed 82/83 Kg, on a 5’8″ frame. I was told to take up walking with immediate effect. We agreed to go for a repeat test a week later. There was no mention of an HbA1c test or a fasting insulin assay, but that’s hardly surprising.
A week later FBS and PPBS were repeated and I was formally declared a confirmed Diabetic. I began my walks in earnest, but then I could barely walk. The bouts of claudication during my walks were so severe that I needed to limp back home. Friend that he was, my Doctor gave me the luxury of a few weeks to do whatever I could to get my act together, with a retest scheduled a month down the line. When I started this journey, I was ignorant – completely ignorant – about what Diabetes was and what it actually entails. At every turn, people warned me of the end that awaited me if I didn’t take proper care and medication.
I continued my walks while desperately seeking solutions online as I was determined to get things under control without pills. It took me more than a month to go from short distances where I was limping badly, to covering more than 4 km/day. I armed myself with a home testing meter and was testing and testing and then testing some more.
The more I read the scarier it got, especially when it got to the part where diabetic complications were discussed with graphic photographic evidence. I tried all the home remedies that promised to cure Diabetes. I downed vile concoctions like Karela ( bitter gourd) Juice and Methi ( Fenugreek) Tea. Herbal supplements that guaranteed miracles in six weeks did not work. Finally, the frustrated engineer in me kicked in, and I decided to figure out the CAUSE, which often holds clues on how to tackle the EFFECT.
Zeroing in on LCHF
I found a spark of hope in a low-carb-high-fat forum based on a western diet. For the first time I got to look at the whole Diabetes debate from a new angle. The take home message I got from there was – Diabetes essentially is an inability to optimally metabolize carbohydrates; it follows that diabetes management translates into managing carb intake. Brilliant! The logic was conceptually sound but given the prevalent guidelines, difficult to execute. Decades of fear mongering against FAT also warned me that I could possibly be headed in the wrong direction.
With no one to look up to or guide me vis-à-vis the Indian diet, I only had self-experimentation to fall back on. I realized that I would be the only one responsible for my failure or success. Mine was a full-hearted switchover. I said to myself, “ Jo hoga dekha jayega” ( Let’s see where this goes). I came upon a Swedish study that concluded that at a cap of 20% max Carbohydrates, Saturated fats have no direct correlation with CVD. This study gave me the final push I needed, to fly solo.
In May 2011 my blood tests surprised me yet again, with an FBS of 60 mg/dl. Still on zero medication! I got a few months’ grace period from my Doctor as he waited and watched. Soon my PPBS as tested in the lab, came back at 102 mg/dl. The LCHF diet I was on, was beginning to work its magic. I landed A1cs of 6.0, 5.2, 5.0%, 5.4, and 5.6 . Testing at home had become an obsession by now as I documented the impact of different foods on my blood sugar levels.
Repeated tests on LIPIDS did not show any movement in my numbers, despite the extra eggs, coconut oil and butter consumed. TC stayed at 160 mg/dl and LDL was always sub 100 mg/dl. For two years, until September 2013, I religiously got all my tests done through the lab. Later on, when I found none of my numbers raising red flags, I stopped wasting my money on lab tests.
What about the PAIN and fear of GCA?
In about 8-9 months, the pain in my leg was completely gone. Issues with claudication during walks vanished. My weight came down to 72/73 Kg. The problem with my skin lesions however, persisted and settled near my eyes. This is where my Ophthalmologist steps in, in April 2011. A provisional diagnosis of ‘Allergy’ saw me ploughing through a range of cheap to designer antihistamine drugs. Nothing worked.
Finally after around 8 months or so the Ophthalmologist prescribed Omnacortil 40 mg and Antacids. Corticosteroids for a diabetic?! I bought the pills but never took them after reading and understanding about its side-effects. This is where I started experimenting with Alpha Lipoic Acid. In one month of trial doses, I had no flare ups. I took ALA regularly for 4 years, because every time I took a break the problem resurfaced. I continue to take ALA albeit, not so regularly. Our long-time member Santosh Bhandarkar has also had great results for a similar problem, with Alpha Lipoic Acid. February 2012 is the last time I visited the Ophthalmologist for this problem.
Come January 2013
Around this time, an online community of Indian diabetics was launched. I will not be naming said site as I have no desire to inadvertently give them free publicity. Every veteran member on dLife.in knows the detailed history and politics involved thereof. I joined that site with great eagerness but unfortunately my experience there was anything but pleasant. Anyone talking LCHF was swiftly cut down to size and labelled a trouble-maker.
The forum had a few other people who shared my flair for risk-taking, and they too converted to LCHF shortly. With more and more people switching over and enthusiastically sharing their positive experiences, it became increasingly difficult for the naysayers to silence me. I was attacked relentlessly – taunted, mocked, insulted, suspended and finally blocked.
It was time to break new ground. dLife.in was an idea whose time had come.
We went live with the forum on 21st August 2014, mostly on a wing and a prayer. I remember with a grateful heart two special friends who rallied around to quickly put up content and populate the forum. Thank you, Meena and HSD! Within three days of taking the forum live, more than a hundred members jumped ship from the other forum. That was the first stepping stone.
Our new members started actively participating and content on the forum grew one heartfelt post at a time. Today, we have 200+ Indian success stories on our site. We have emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Our dear, valuable members have shown to the whole world, that “When I becomes We, even Illness becomes Wellness”.
Valentine’s day 2011 remains very special to me. I courted my deadly Valentine – Diabetes — on this fateful day. Although initially devastated, I learned to accept it as a teacher who challenged me to forge new paths. I had my periods of struggle and the learning curve was often steep. The understanding that diet and nutrition have a huge role to play in health and well-being was life changing.
I still can’t raise my voice or shout; if I do, the ghosts of my past peak out from the shadows. As it appears, my temporary loss of voice has unfortunately left some lasting damage. I came across a research paper mentioning that excessively high blood sugars can lead to vocal cord paralysis. Diabetes can target virtually any organ and stealthily compromise its function. Was I running blood sugars that high? Can’t say! I can only speculate.
Within a month of my diagnosis, I had to have four teeth pulled, with one of them being a chipped tooth. I’ve had no further dental issues. I also said good-bye to bleeding gums.
All my health challenges – loss of voice, leg pain and all those myriad other issues, in hindsight, were all precipitated by un-diagnosed diabetes lurking in the background. Nearly a decade later, I remain medicine-free, with diet playing the undisputed hero in my story.
I initially had plans to share my story with the world once I reached the ten-year mark – that would be 10 medicine-free years, maintaining non-diabetic numbers. But then again, there’s no time like NOW and no place like HERE.
And what about my doctor friend?
Well, he doesn’t quite believe that I am drug free. When I told him about LCHF, his reaction was no different from any other mainstream professional. I tried telling him about Dr.Bernstein and his fascinating studies; my friend brusquely cut me off saying he only follows official “GUIDELINES”. I had to rest my case as I think that answers it all.
All my energy now is focused on making this site – dLife.in – feature-rich. I extend my Heartfelt Thanks to each and every member in our close-knit community. Together we will power the wheels of this movement, easing the suffering of Diabetics in any way we can.
Here’s the tweet where I randomly post my numbers:
To every diabetic waiting on the sidelines
Diabetes is all about managing carb intake. Do not fear FAT. There are many, many people out there and in our forum, who have been there and done it. There’s not an iota of doubt that carb-restriction through an LCHF / Keto diet is the only way forward, not just for diabetes but for every other disorder that starts with hyperinsulinemia. Take control of your health, today!
Update on Feb 15th, 2021
Having completed 10 pill free years,here’s my Podcast on 14th Feb 2021: