Friday, February 19, 2010

Hunting with Diabetes; Episode 2

Blogging about Diabetes and Hunting; Episode 2

A little bit more on my “history” and then we’ll get to how it effects my hunting and the outdoors.

After I was diagnosed as a type II diabetic, started taking a couple of different medications and was instructed on how to eat…life really changed. First, being told how to eat as an adult and actually adhering to those rules are two completely different things. It is extremely difficult to break habits formed from over 35 years of eating. Finding out that when I was trying to eat healthier by drinking lots of juice was actually really bad for me….yikes! I need to count my carbohydrates and make sure I don’t exceed my limits, as well as what types of carbohydrates!?! I had to learn the difference between complex carbohydrates and simple sugars. I had to learn how to balance my eating and what to expect every time I eat. I had to learn what to do if my blood sugar was too high or too low.

On top of all the food issues, I had to learn what to expect from my body. I was more prone to get colds. Colds and flu’s were now much more dangerous to me. I healed slower, my circulation was in danger and worst of all…my organs were in jeopardy if I couldn’t get my blood sugar under control. Even then, I should expect complications as I get older. Eye sight, foot problems, fingers…Wow. For something I never gave a thought to, all the people who have diabetes, this is no little problem.

It gets worse…

For the first few years I worked on getting my life in control. I was on a new medication that was really helping me not only get my blood sugars were they needed to be, but keep them there. I had my own successful company but I found out that stress is a major issue with blood sugars and the stress of running my company in a high stakes arena put me in a position were I needed to re-evaluate my goals. I did not see an avenue were I could reduce my stress and keep the company going, so I decided my life is more important than a job. I closed shop and went back to work for someone else. Hard decisions are only hard when you make them hard. Live, life and my family vs. money and a quick death…. Easy choice.

Leaving a dream was hard enough but the next event in my life was out of my hands and one of my nightmares. The medication I was on was pulled by the FDA, the replacement meds were rejected by my body…results: Insulin injections. My one worse nightmare: needles. I hate them! When my daughter was born I stood and watched the C-section with no problems. When they injected pain killer into the IV I had to leave….I don’t know why I’m like that but I am. It’s just needles and now I had to give myself 2 shots a day…for the rest of my life.

First stop, insulin class. They taught me how to give myself injections. Seeing what happens to me with needles they told me to return the next day for my first real insulin injection to make sure I actually did it. Nightmares! I had a lot to think about that night. Another one of those “hard” decisions that should be easy. Injections equal life, no injections equal a widow and two children without a father, Parents without a son, Friends looking down at a grave stone. Doesn’t sound like so hard a decision now does it. I made my decision. The next day I walked into the doctors office, looked at the doctor and told her that I had made a decision. I needed shots to live, so shots I would get. I told her to just sit and watch, only tell me if I’m doing something wrong. I took my first shot of thousands, feels good to live. Just a note; even after 10 years, it’s still a decision I make every day. At least now I don’t turn white as a sheet and fall over anymore. The nurses are happy about that when I come in for my blood work…they all seem to be about 5 feet tall and 100 lbs dripping wet….yeah, catch me like a lumberjack catches a falling oak tree!


The first thing I noticed about having diabetes and hunting was that I started to get cold a lot easier. I used to be one of those guys that just never got cold. No longer. On top of the getting cold, I now had the issues with being cold. Cold fingers and toes equates to circulation issues and that’s bad for diabetics. I had to re-evaluate all my hunting gear. Heavier boots with more insulation, warmer gloves and coats and pants well insulated for the temperatures I would be hunting. Have you ever priced out those quality pieces that can really keep you warm?...OUCH! talk about a pain! It’s taken a few years to really balance out the equipment I need from what I had. I’ve learned what really works and what does not and how to avoid getting cold from the get go. I’m always looking for new technology that will let me stay out longer and in colder weather.

The next thing I noticed is that while I was never surgeon class, my ability to stay steady was rapidly declining. Even when I was on the rifle team at college I was more of a movement shooter than one that tried strictly to hold still on a single point. Now I’m glad I’ve had the practice. Diabetes not only effects the circulation but that circulation is what keeps things like nerves and muscle control functioning. If I try to stand still and make a bulls eye shot, I might come close. If I just point and shoot or draw and release, then the chances are I’ll make the shot. I just can’t hold steady anymore and if my sugar gets too low I could get a job at a paint shop as a “mixer”. Add in the issues with the cold and you can see there is a lot of concern about ethical shots when I’m hunting in the cold. More practice so I don’t even think about the shot anymore. My Colorado mule deer was shot without trying to put the pin on a specific point. I had practiced enough that I knew where the pin would be. If you watch my video you can see my shakes and then the shot. Diabetes, my practice coach. Right through the heart.

Blood sugar levels can also effect your eyesight. I wear glasses now but if my sugar is off, my vision is off. Having your vision change during a hunt is always a challenge. In my next episode I’ll talk about some of the ways to help vision management as I discuss pre-hunt requirements and planning.

No comments: