04 December 2008


After observing my husband's health for some time now, I have come to the conclusion that he has possibly full-blown diabetes. The trouble is that we can't afford the $200/month or more that health insurance would cost us. Why so high? Well, first, he works in the medical industry (a nursing home) which automatically puts his rate very high. Second, he opted out of all benefits in exchange for a 10% higher hourly wage; they call this modified compensation or mod comp. He is still eligible for some benefits and still keep his mod comp we have discovered, so starting in January we will get dental insurance for the two of us as well as eye coverage. The kids are already covered through Healthy Kids Gold, the state's low-income insurance plan for children only. Neither of us has had a dental checkup in over 5 years, when I left my job and we lost insurance through my employer. My husband is almost ready for reading glasses and I get headaches when I drive at night from what my mom says is astigmatism. I can't read road signs because they are so bright at night with the reflective paint that they smear all around and give me headaches. And my headaches hit not with pain, but sleepiness. For a long time I would routinely fall asleep behind the wheel after dark. When I had to be at work at 6 am in the middle of winter, I would allow myself an extra half hour of commute time so I could pull over and take a nap.

Anyway, I digress. My husband's health has gotten to the point that last night I started googling the major issues he has and each one came back as a complication of diabetes. These last few months he has gotten serious about weight loss. To give an idea of the scope of what he is struggling with, my husband is 6'1" and weighed 500 pounds this past summer. That was his peak. He began drinking a smoothie containing coconut oil most mornings before going to work and with that simple addition alone has lost just over 70 pounds so far. That was without any other change in his diet and no increased exercise because his knees hurt him so badly that he cannot do anything more than walk, and unless it is an emergency, our two-year-old son walks faster than he does.

After a huge argument we had recently he has given up soda. He is addicted to it and was drinking an average of about three 2-liter bottles each day. I tried to get him to quit by pointing out the financial burden of $100 per month for his soda habit - money that we could be using to build up our food reserves or towards a down payment for some land. I tried pointing out the health effects of soda, both regular and diet, but he just chose the lesser of two evils - HCFS over aspartame. I tried complaining about the amount of trash it generated, so he started bagging up the bottles to take to his friend who turns them in for the bottle deposits. Finally I had to tell him that he had to choose between the soda and me. It wasn't pretty. I told him I cannot watch him die slowly by his own hand. He snapped back that you can die just by walking down the street, and I said that yes, that is possible, but at least then you are living each day instead of dying each day. He then stomped downstairs and poured the bottle of Mountain Dew he had just bought and poured it down the tub and hoped I was happy. It wasn't until my dear Jenny pointed out that he was exhibiting classic addiction behavior that I had the courage to fight with him like this.

I am very proud of my husband for giving up soda. He has tried many times before and failed. It has been about three weeks now, I think. He has gotten some organic soda, but they are $4 for 6 cans, so he gets one or two a week. I can accept that. I am hoping that this will set him more firmly on the road to good health.

Now I now must find a way to feed him. We believe strongly in local eating as much as possible, and we also believe strongly in a diet rich with animal products as promoted by the Weston A. Price Foundation. They recommend a low carbohydrate diet (60-70 grams per day) for those with diabetes in order to help bring the pancreas back to health and promote weight loss. Sounds great. But that means that he can't eat all the wheat, rice, potatoes and carrots that I have stored for our winter reserves. Mind you, I don't have a lot stored, as I have been slowly building my reserves and didn't start until just a few months ago, but we have enough to feed us (somewhat monotonously perhaps) for a couple of weeks as long as we still have access to fresh milk and eggs in the case of an emergency. We buy our milk locally and they also sell eggs, so I have no fear of losing our supply of those. I far more fear the supermarket shelves running empty in the next few months as lack of credit prevents supermarkets from making their purchases and prevents food from getting shipped.

But how do I feed my husband now? The local winter foods here are beans, starchy vegetables and grains, with some salad greens if they are grown with season extension techniques. I can't imagine beef stew without carrots and potatoes, chili without rice, casseroles without starches. Whoever heard of a casserole that didn't have pasta, potatoes, or some kind of wheat-based crust? I have to completely re-examine all my options.


Anonymous said...

Hey Judy,

If Terry does have diabetes, he really needs to look after it. I know the cost is horrible, but if it comes down to having to have limbs amputated from the peripheral vascular disease that comes with poor diabetes control, or having to spend three days a week in a dialysis clinic because he has kidney failure, or going completely blind...the cost of preventative medicine seems minor compared to the side effects of not getting it under control. I have patients on a regular basis that have poorly controlled their diabetes, and are suffering now for it.
Not trying to rant....just care about you guys and would take to see something horrible happen.


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