Yesterday I had to tell two men that their lives would forever change….
…..one was given a diagnosis of diabetes and the other was told that he likely has cancer of the pancreas. Neither one of these men thought that when I walked into their respective hospital rooms that the first sentence out of my mouth after my usual greeting would be “I have the results of your tests.”
The first man was in his mid-forties, married with two children. During one of our previous conversations he told me that he had been under a lot of stress at work, that he frequently skipped meals and would often grab a candy bar and a soda during one of his quick breaks before heading back to his desk. He also revealed that he had been feeling more tired lately, not having the energy he used to and that he had neglected exercise for the past several months. He even admitted that he had grown up on southern cooking and had recently found a restaurant that served sweet tea like his mother used to make.
Now for those of you who aren’t from the south, sweet tea is made by brewing black tea and then added either a simple syrup (one part sugar and one part water heated together to make a thick, sweet syrup) to the tea while it’s hot or adding cups and cups of sugar to the hot tea to sweeten it before added enough cold water to make a pitcher. Now I have to admit that my great-grandmother used to make the best sweet tea but now that I’m older….and wiser…I know that sweet tea is basically “diabetes water” because if you drink enough sweet tea, you’ll end up with diabetes like my patient.
At first my patient tried to refute the diagnosis of diabetes stating that it’s probably the steroids he’s receiving for his facial swelling that caused his blood sugar to be so elevated. I explained to him that steroids can increase your blood sugar transiently but that I had ordered a special test called a Hemoglobin A1c which measures how well (or not so well) your blood sugar has been controlled over a several month period. Although his blood sugars had been high during his hospital stay, his Hemoglobin A1c was also elevated, indicating that his blood sugars had been high for months…..not just days. Once it finally sunk in that I wasn’t going to change the diagnosis of diabetes, he accepted his role in the way he’s mistreated his body and vowed that he would change the way he eats and would start exercising as soon as he left the hospital.
I congratulated him on his determination to get his health back on track and encouraged him to continue the change because just by losing 10 to 15 pounds his blood sugar and his blood pressure would be better controlled and he might even avoid needing to take diabetic medications!!
He was so glad that I had taken the initiative to check his blood sugar and Hemoglobin A1c while he was in the hospital for an unrelated matter because he knew the importance of early detection and early control of diabetes to avoid amputation, blindness and kidney disease.
As I walked to Mr. D’s hospital room I had to mentally prepare myself for the emotional atmosphere that was about to take place as I told him that the mass found on his pancreas was likely cancer and that pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive and most deadly cancers you can have.
When I first met Mr. D, he complained of severe upper abdominal pain with a poor appetite. He had recently had a significant amount of alcohol over the past several days and had subsequently developed pancreatitis—-an inflammation of the pancreas. A CT scan of his abdomen revealed a mass arising from his pancreas which was concerning for cancer. When I told him the results of the scan, his main focus was on when he was getting released from the hospital because he had just accepted a job up state that was starting next week. I explained to him that we could schedule a biopsy of the mass in a few days after the holiday weekend. We’d have to wait on the results of the biopsy to determine if the mass was a more treatable form of cancer—a lymphoma or if the mass was the most common form of pancreatic cancer—adenocarcinoma, which may be amenable to surgery but the long term prognosis still remained bleak.
Mr. D understood the road ahead and took the news of cancer in stride. He had lived fast and he had lived hard. He’d taken his chances before and this was no different. As I turned to leave his room he offered me his hand and thanked me for being honest with him and said that he’d do what was necessary….including quitting alcohol….to live better.
So, yesterday was a draining day, physically and emotionally…but in the end, two lives have changed and hopefully….for the better.
To your wellness,
The Health and Wellness Queen
P.S. I’m just about finished my first book entitled “21 Secrets to Amazing Health” so stay tuned for more information on how you can get your hands on this life-changing book for yourself and for your family.