My Coming Out Party

Sunrise 672

When we spring something startling upon an unsuspecting world we call it a coming out party.  A young woman, formerly cloistered in the bosom of a sheltering family is presented to society.  Someone who’s hitherto toiled invisibly behind the scenes, often unappreciated,  assumes a new public role.  Someone who’s gay, unbeknownst to family and friends,  decides to share a fundamental truth with the world.  Each of them deserves a coming out party.  And so do I.

Ten days ago I received news that rocked my world.  My first thought was to hide it.  My second thought was to study it.  My third thought was to reveal it, but how?  To whom?  And when?  So, holding my nose and praying for a soft landing, I’m jumping off the high dive here and now.  See me splash.

My life changed when I sat down with my doctor, who told me that I have become diabetic,  joining the 8% of the US population who are similarly afflicted.  If you’ve had this same conversation with your doc, you may have had the reaction I did, to wit “Oh the horror, oh the shame!” or some version thereof.  I couldn’t help but feel that I’d brought this on myself, even though the unflappable Dr. Kim said “nope, it’s genetic.”

I began to read, night and day.  My Google search history was replete with search terms related to diabetes, which I surreptitiously deleted each night, somehow ashamed to even need to be looking for information about a disease where the victim is  often perceived to be the perpetrator. As the whole blogosphere knows, I’m a cook, a former personal chef, a food and wine writer, a person who loves to spend days in the kitchen preparing elaborate meals for my guests, and yes, I’m a person who loves to eat and drink.  Was mine a case of “live by the sword, die by the sword” only with my chef’s knife subbed in as the implement of destruction?

Then I found this article, which is, despite the slightly tabloid-style headlines, a careful exigesis of the origins of diabetes.  I won’t summarize it here,  but I advise you to read it yourself, should you have any doubts.  It might make you treat a diabetic with more sympathy.  It might even save your own life.

But don’t worry.  French Letters isn’t going to become a blog about my diabetes, any more than it’s a blog about Shel’s cancer.  It’s a blog about our life, with all its ups and downs, but mainly about  life in France, and about the foods and wines we all love.  However, I can’t resist sharing a couple of discoveries, because I’m learning all day long, looking at my red, red blood 6-8 times a day.  The bad news is that coffee, of all things, seems to be bad for my blood sugar.  The good news?  Wine and cheese are fine.  France, here I come!

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20 Comments on “My Coming Out Party”

  1. John Sconzo Says:

    Life goes on, Abra. I have been a diabetic for over ten years now. When I was first diagnosed (by myself then confirmed, it was just before turning forty. I thought that my life was over. As a physician, I have seen the worst of diabetes. But, once I got used to the fact, I accepted it, dealt with it and moved on, not letting it control my life. I try to keep my sugar reasonable, but have made the decision that I would not obsess over it, nor let it control my life. It became just another part of my life that I needed to consider. Food is too important to me for my quality of life to make too many concessions. While I have made some (mostly trying to limit carbs, especially simple sugars), I have not surrendered to it, following the mantra taught to me by my late physician father (also a diabetic, he lived to age 84) – “Anything in moderation.” So far, that approach has worked for me, but mileage may vary.

  2. Arne Says:

    Don’t you keep secrets well!

    I have nothing to add to what John said, except that I have no doubt your love of food and friends will make this merely a blip on the radar.

    WIne and cheese indeed!

  3. Margaret Says:

    I hate that you have this to consider but as you move along, you will find many folks who are managing just fine, and have been handling diabetes for years. And I know you will cope with this as you have with other health issues in the family….I just wish you didn’t have to.

  4. Eden Says:

    very sorry to hear about this, but I am certain you will find your way to Peaceful co-existence with the Diabetes while still enjoying the pleasures of the kitchen & table.

    I gather from talking to my mother & various other folks that the key is experimenting to find out what works for your particular body. some people can handle chocolate, some cant, some coffee, some not.

  5. Lori Says:

    Abra – sorry to hear this. As the others have commented, I think your spirit will see you through this hurdle like others you have faced. On a more practical note, try chia seeds. I eat them for the omega 3’s. Many of my friends now eat them because it makes them feel full and eat less. I even got my mom to eat them, and it has really helped her blood sugar levels.

  6. Rebecca Says:

    Dear Abra,
    That’s not nice news, I’m sorry to learn of your diagnosis. I didn’t realize that people think that diabetes is something that you ‘give’ yourself, I never heard that before. The diabetics who I know are all ‘foodies’ themselves- I’ve many times thought that perhaps their sincere appreciation of food stems from their need to truly understand the relationship between diet and body. You certainly possess that talent. Take good care of yourself and Shel, and know that you have many people the world over who care for you, and we won’t complain one bit if there’s less sugar and such in your posts- it’s actually not the food which brings us to your ‘table’, but the soul that you share with the rest of us- which we adore.

  7. geri Says:

    The truth is that no matter how you spin it..ingestion of alcohol is bad for diabetes….and for cancer. Alcohol is a highly acidifying substance that challenges healthy digestion of food & nutrients & ultimately depresses the immune system. I, personally, have had to embrace this truth…it’s hard at first but eventually the feeling of digestive well-being that arrives as a result of no alcohol is worth it.

  8. Kathy Says:

    Just a note to say I love you. Glad you’re letting the rest of us in on your news. I keep expecting to get the same news since my mother and her mother were both diabetics. I’ll go read the article you provided since I should know as much as I can about it. I know you take challenges head on and dealing with diabetes as part of your cooking and blogging seems a natural.

  9. Debra Says:

    Abra, I don’t know if you know that I am also Diabetic, both parents are in my family, Dad is type 1, mom type 2. Ask your doctor about Byetta. Its a rather new medication, twice daily injectible but not insulin. Side effect is that it helps you to lose weight.Oh darn! The key about living with Diabetes is that you do not have to stop eating all the foods you love, you just have to eat them in portion controlled portions and watch your carbs, so if I am eating bread, I don’t eat other carbs. If I decide to have a little dessert, I don’t eat starchy sides with dinner. You’ll learn. Its second nature now.

  10. Lucy Says:

    Hey Abra. The big D runs on my mother’s side as well. I am sorry to hear that you have been diagnosed with diabetes and hope that your diagnosis comes in time to keep things in check. We’re thinking of you here. Love, Lucy.

  11. Abra Bennett Says:

    Thanks for the support and love, everybody!

    John – ok if I email you with some more questions about your approach, since we have the same ideas about food in general?

    Lori – I had to go look up chia seeds, but now that I’ve read more about them, I’ll be trying them for sure.

    Deb – no, I didn’t know, but now that I do we can compare notes. No drugs for me though, at least for now. I’m working on low carb for the time being and seeing my BG come down as a result.

    And those of you with diabetes in your family, here’s one thing I’ve learned from personal experience. I’ve had normal random. blood sugar tests for years at annual exams, and even today, you can randomly get normal levels from me. It’s the fasting blood sugar that tells the tale, and if you have any doubts, make your doctor do one for you. I’m guessing that I’ve had this coming on for years without anyone discovering it.

  12. Nancy Says:

    Please add my sympathies and confidence to those already expressed. It’s never occurred to me to think of diabetes as something self-inflicted (well – perhaps, by serious obesity, of which you are not guilty). I know it has genetic components. I know it isn’t a fun discovery. But I also believe, with my deepest convictions, that you will meet this challenge with the joy and creativity you’ve brought to all the other challenges you’ve shared with us.

    We love and respect you, Abra, and will be cheering you on.

  13. Lori Says:

    Abra –
    I get so much enjoyment from your blog. My two trips to Europe were done at a “I need to see everything” speed. I yearn to go back and do it slow. I feel like I get to do that through your writing and beautiful pictures.

    I’m glad I can pass just a little information back your way. I eat chia with fruit and greek yogurt for breakfast and sprinkle them on salad later in the day. Hope you like them!

  14. John DePaula Says:

    Abra, you’re in my thoughts. Thanks so much for the informative article.

    Hugs, John

  15. Diana Lynn Says:

    Sorry to hear you have been diagnosed as a diabetic.

    My personal experience with type 2 diabetes is below if you care to read it. I will have to disagree though with the remarks that someone made about alcohol and diabetes. My endocrinologist who is a type 1 diabetic, told me that it would help my cholesterol levels (unfortunately diabetes seems to raise cholesterol)to have one glass of wine a evening. Up until then I didn’t drink alcohol except on rare occasions such as wedding toasts. I started to have one glass of wine a night and even before I got the diabetes under control (read below) it did help my cholesterol levels and I didn’t suffer from digestive or immune issues due to it. I still don’t enjoy the taste of wine, but that’s just me.

    Personal experience will vary but when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 9 years ago and put on medication for it I read everything I could on the subject, severely limited my carbs, studying low and high glycemic carbs, and was able to keep reasonable control over it. However, it was not until I did lose weight (in my case 35 pounds) and start exercising, especially cardio, that I was able to go off medication entirely and add more carbs back (within reason, I don’t for example drink juice anymore)into my daily dining pleasures.

    It’s been 5 years and I’m still off the meds and I won’t fib, it’s a struggle to keep the weight under control and many times I don’t keep up the exercising like I should, but for me losing the weight really did help control the diabetes, even better then the meds did. By the way losing the 35 pounds does not mean I’m thin, I’m still overweight as far as insurance charts for my height, I’m just no longer edging toward obese.

    I agree it’s genetic since many overweight people do not develop diabetes but for those of us who have the genetic gene that develops type 2 diabetes it can be worthwhile losing some weight to see if one can keep control of this progressive disease at first without medication (of course only going off the meds after your doctor agrees you can) and using diet and exercise.

    Unfortunately losing weight for those who are willing to try doesn’t work for everyone. Some of the success that some of us have depends on how early the diabetes was diagnosed before any permanent damage was done to the pancreas.

    Anyway just wanted to share my personal experience with type 2 since I certainly have enjoyed reading your blog over the last year or so.

  16. VegeDeb Says:

    Abra, my doctor recently told me that I am pre-diabetic. It was a real wake-up call for me, especially regarding exercise.

  17. Barry Twyman Says:

    Welcome aboard Abra , we just got home from another wedding …..ours again , and the huge party at domaine du Pelican on Sunday . You know I’ve been diabetic for 10 years and I LOVE your cooking ; I beg you NOT to panic, and go to extremes , but to enjoy life in moderation with balances if you want to enjoy those “special” meals and treats . I had crisps , an enormous ice cream and churros for tea yesterday ……… before and after I adjusted my intakes ……. et voila ,je suis en vie ce matin .

    Bisous Barry

  18. Margaret Says:

    Thanks for the article, Abra, it’s very enlightening. I was diagnosed pre-diabetic about 5 months ago. I went to a dietitian for awhile to get advice from her on how to eat, plus I too have been reading a lot about it. That article sheds new light on a lot of the assumptions about diabetes. I’ve got type 2 in my family history so I’ve got those genes 😦

  19. Randi Says:

    I was diagnosed about 8yrs ago( still can’t believe it). Ask your doctor about Byetta. Its done wonders for me( and my appetite). Seriously, I( and my sister) consider it a wonder drug.

  20. Randi Says:

    ok, wow, I mentioned the byetta before I read your comments. I’m glad someone else mentioned it too. I lost 30lbs right away when I started it. Excellent.


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