Thursday, July 12, 2007

My Feet Are Enjoying It

When I was a boy, we would roam the neighborhood and neighboring woods quite frequently barefoot. Our dusty, dirty street...or road, as we preferred to call it, since a street would somehow imply the presence of pavement...was part of our playground, and despite the razor-sharp stones strewn about, we would run along without shoes or socks without issue.

That all changed for me when I was diagnosed with diabetes. Going barefoot became somewhat taboo, considering diabetics can have foot problems such as neuropathy. And diabetics have trouble healing (apparently, though, 25 years later, I've been healing just fine).

So, I was forced to wear socks. Okay, forced is a strong word. Frankly, I preferred wearing socks. I had dry skin, and slathering my feet with cream and putting on socks at night was the norm for me. But now, the option of going barefoot was stolen away...forced to wear socks.

It didn't take long for my feet to grow accustomed to being clothed 24/7. With rare exception, I actually preferred to wear socks as much as possible. To this day, the hair on my legs starting below the sock line has been worn away and just won't grow back. To this day, my feet, when bare feel worse than naked, cold, vulnerable, sensitive.

So, I wear socks. Always.

Which brings me to the issue of sandals. I've never been much of a sandal person, primarily due to said socks. Thing is, during the summer months, keeping stocking feet inside leather shoes is rather sweat-inducing. But to wear sandals without socks? Are you crazy? My feet hate it. The soles of my feet get sweaty and stick to the bottom of the sandal. When you walk, there is this sort of sucking feeling as the sandal peels away from your sweaty feet with each step.

Just, ick!

So, I wear socks with my sandals. And you know what? I think it looks just fine. Really, I do. I've seen others wear socks with sandals, and they look fine, too.

Now, my wife disagrees. But I've reached an age where I, frankly, don't care about the fashion sense of sandals. I'm wearing socks with sandals because I like it that way. It feels good, and my feet don't sweat. So what if Stacy and Clinton from TLC's "What Not To Wear" might pounce on me any minute for it. It is something I'm not willing to budge on. Those fashion gurus are going to have to wait for style to catch up to me. Perhaps I'm a trend setter. Perhaps I'm a nerd.

Either way, my feet are enjoying it.

Monday, July 09, 2007

I Don't Need No Stinkin' Statins!

I had my latest endo visit last week.

For the last couple of visits, my endo has been concerned about my LDL levels (the "bad" cholesterol). It was at 111 last time, and he said it should be under 100. Anything over 100 and they start pushing statins. And so, he started pushing statins.

Statins are, it seems, the latest wonder drug in the arsenal against heart disease, and since diabetics are, in general, at high risk for heart disease, it only seems natural to push the drug. And while I'm not really against the use of drugs such as statins, I'm concerned when doctors start turning to drugs before really analyzing dietary and activity-related causes. Elevated LDL levels may simply be a result of genetics. But it can also be a symptom. Turning to statins so quickly really only treats the symptoms and ignores the cause.

I knew the cause, in my case. My diet had gone downhill. While a generally healthy guy, I had allowed too many slices of pizza and breakfast burritos to slip into my diet. This, in addition to my rather sedentary lifestyle led to a rather sudden rise in LDL levels. I'd never had problems with LDLs before.

Ultimately, I declined the statins. I couldn't see going on a drug for something when I knew the cause. And, many months later of going back to healthier eating (eliminating saturated and trans fats from my diet as much as possible, increasing my intake of fiber-rich foods), and an exercise regimen, I wanted to tackle the problem the old-fashioned way.

Results are in. My 111 has dropped to 66. My HDLs have risen. I felt a bit like gloating. I wanted to say to my endo, "I don't need no stinkin' statins!"

That isn't to say statins aren't necessary at times. If someone truly can't get LDL levels down by improving diet and exercise, then it makes sense. My concern is that there really is little attempt at educating a patient in what that proper diet and exercise entails. Adding a bowl of oatmeal a day isn't going to do a whole lot if you're still eating that daily slice of pizza for lunch, for example.

Fortunately, I'm a self-motivated kind of guy when it comes to my health, and so I saw the problem and took back the reigns. Others may simply take the statin, but continue eating an unhealthy diet.

I've got one life to live, and I don't need to live it tied for the rest of my life to yet another drug. Insulin is quite enough, thank you very much.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

When a Geek Laughs

I'm a geek. And in case you weren't aware, being a geek is "in". Part of pop culture, in fact, with shows like Beauty and the Geek. It wasn't always that way, I know. As a teen, being a geek was okay...but only to other geeks. My geek friends could safely call me a geek, but if a sports jock called me a geek, it was a serious insult.

At one time in my life, I was also a nerd. And in case you are wondering what differentiates the geek from the nerd, I define a nerd to be "a geek who looks the part". That's because there are plenty of geeks out there who you'd never peg as a geek by looks alone. (, maybe I am a nerd, by that definition.)

Anyhow, recently, I become aware of seeming common trait among geeks. Geeks seem to amuse themselves easily. Things that aren't even funny will make them laugh out loud. And even moreso for things that aren't funny but are their own sayings.

There is one guy at work, for example, who has a laugh you can hear across the room. It is this laugh that originates not because anyone else said anything funny, but because he said something cleverly unfunny but amusing to himself. Anyone without arms length is obliged to laugh along with him, all the while knowing it really wasn't all that funny.

The sad truth is that I suffer the same malady, much the chagrin of my wife. I'm constantly making jokes that, in hindsight, really aren't funny to anyone else but myself. But I think they're funny. So, I laugh. Usually by myself. With everyone else just staring at me blankly.

I have to believe that when a geek laughs, it is a self-preservation technique. Geeks are so analytical, so self-focused, that they tend to miss a lot of humor around them. Yet, we all need to laugh. So, finding humor within ourselves is the only solution.

I celebrate my geek-hood. I firmly believe that while women like the jock, or perhaps the "bad boy" when dating...the one they really want to settle down with for the rest of their lives is the geek. A geek brings security, and often a big source of income if they are truly geeky enough.

Unfortunately, they don't bring much in the way of a sense of humor.

But that's what having kids is for.