Green tea and soy: the new latte?

The last word about dads on Father's Day

Today, a confession. Last month the world as I knew it suffered
a seismic shift. In the office of “Dr. C.,” my physician of some 30
years, a trap door opened, and I clung to the edge, trying to
maintain my grasp.
Today, a confession. Last month the world as I knew it suffered a seismic shift. In the office of “Dr. C.,” my physician of some 30 years, a trap door opened, and I clung to the edge, trying to maintain my grasp.

Oh, sure, there have been worse diagnoses. In terms of severity, it could have been much worse. But as a girl who had always claimed “perfect health,” who enjoyed “good genes” as the legacy of my ancestors, I was suddenly smacked upside the head (as my dad would have said) with a calamity of my own doing.

Type II diabetes. Yes, it was my own fault, this thing. Too many decades of putting things off, procrastinating about taking care of myself. Nobody to blame here but me. So while the diagnosis came out of the blue, I wasn’t surprised. I’d been feeling “off” for years.

Already diagnosed with high blood pressure earlier this summer (another shocker, which wasn’t really … not if I’m honest), Dr. C. had ordered that I cut out salt and processed foods. No restaurants. No canned or frozen foods. Too much sodium lurking there. Eat only fresh. And I was. But the follow-up blood work he ordered uncovered something even more sinister and life threatening.

“The trouble with diabetes,” Dr. C. explained, “is that it DOESN’T kill you.” I already knew the devastation to the body inherent with this disease so when he went into the ugly probabilities that unchecked diabetes – even Type II – the “less serious” (in my mind) version would cause, I knew what he was about to say. “Amputation.” “Blindness.” “Kidney failure.” “Heart disease.” Oh, yeah, he had me at “Hello.”

And the distressing thing is, this isn’t something that “happened” to me. Nope, I’d brought it on myself.

Handing me a prescription and a paper containing an interesting graphic, he told me this little guide was to be my “Bible.” It was the Anti-inflammatory Foods Pyramid developed by Dr. Andrew Weil. Dr. C. said people with Type II diabetes often saw amazing success by following this diet. It was time for me to get serious. Or get ready to die.

So the lifestyle undertook a renovation. A fan for years of “Grande Nonfat Lattes,” my mega-coffee cafe favorite, (well, yeah, and the blueberry scones), I knew this beverage was going to need some tweaking. Years ago I purchased a latte machine for home, and many miles of lattes have flowed from its little nozzles.

These days the latte machine is gathering cobwebs (well, figuratively speaking) because nowhere on the anti-inflammatory foods pyramid is coffee. And very little dairy. What I DID find was green tea. Two cups a day. And soy milk. Ah. Thus the “new latte” was born, and while the color isn’t QUITE as luscious as a “real” latte, it ain’t half bad!

When my daughters suggested I write about this newest passage, I thought about it a bit. I didn’t want to sound depressing. Or bleak. Or “poor me” in nature. But they are right, because I realized a few days post-diagnosis that in its own weird way this might well be the best thing that could have happened. A second chance of sorts to finally get it right. 

So I see that afternoon in Dr. C’s office, one day after my “half” birthday (and yes, I still think about that stuff), as the day of new beginnings. 

I’ve made big changes during this last month. Working out regularly. Consuming only fresh, unprocessed foods. More fish, less meat. Enjoying the bounty of California’s good earth with lots of farmer’s market fresh, organic veggies and fruit. Recording a weight loss of over 12 pounds so far. Cutting back by half my intake of over-the-counter pain medication. And blood pressure and glucose readings trending back toward normal.

Along with learning about diabetes, I’m learning more about myself. That I’ve been “absent” for too many years. Going through the motions without awareness. Marginalizing my life. My brain was anesthetized from circumventing my emotions, securing them in a tightly woven blanket. But no more.

I’m also learning I’ve still “got it.” That spark of optimism, rekindling, growing brighter. The knowledge that I’m capable of turning this crazy ship around. It won’t always be easy; nothing worthwhile ever is. But I will do it. I have way too much to live for.

I have so much to learn about this new passage; as wake up calls go, this was a doozy. I don’t wish to suffer the terrible effects of diabetes if I can help it, and I’m doubly sure I don’t want to put my family through it.

So this new beverage I’ve found tastes better every day. Yep, friends, the ’90s called. They want their lattes back.

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