"You can listen to me, or you can die."
Those were her doctor's words. But now, hunched over her collapsed body in her tight hallway, her doctor was far away. I made eye contact with one of the Paramedics: he knew the truth, too.
"Your doctor told you to drink that?" he asked, drawing a curtain of professionalism over his incredulity. He nodded toward her jug o' juice, the main part of her diet for the last two weeks. To her, it was medical science: 1000 calories a day of Space Tang, a mathematical miracle. To us, it was a Carbohydrate Cowboy with an itchy trigger finger. Having a diabetic lose weight on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet seemed to defy logic. But, then again……doctor said!
They took her away in an ambulance. Again. To Big-E Emergency. Again. Protesting, again. To be prescribed few calories, no fat, and rigid adherence. Again. Hey, it works for everyone else, right?
On the porch with her son and grandson, I couldn't hold my tongue. Maybe my message of research and logic and overreliance on 1970s technology was lost in my shocking use of profanity. Maybe, but I'd had enough. After sprinting my fastest 400m ever to find my mother-in-law, sweating and fighting for consciousness on her low-pile carpet, I was ready to say my piece.
Patricia's doctor, you see, had never told her there was a third option. There's always a third option. In this case: 3) …or you can do something else.
They'll call it improving impaired glucose sensitivity. They'll call it improved glucagon/insulin balance. They'll call it restabilization of fasting blood sugar. We'll call it walking. For now. Later, we'll call it walking with a little more.
They'll call it a low-carb diet. We'll call it better balance of protein, carbohydrate, and healthy fats.
It's clear, now, that it won't be possible to change the medical system from the inside. You'll need to look outside the traditional 'medical' world for help: and that's scary, isn't it? There's just as much bad information out there as good information. But we're going to help, and we're going to do it in a big way. More on that tomorrow.
Today, though, Patricia is still using a hospital bed. After spending her first night in a hallway, alone, she was finally given a room. The next day, Grammy's shoes were stolen. Yesterday, doctors gave her medications checklist a serious overhaul……and no one mentioned exercise. Dietitians visited last week, and gave her a book about the DASH diet (low sodium) – an excellent idea to treat the symptoms of congestive heart failure, but not the causes.
Who's at fault? The system. The 'funnel' paradigm – intake, process, output – is a defensive model. It's reactionary. To make it worse, the funnel's overflowing. Your best bet is to avoid the process. We'll talk about that tomorrow, too. "Get Well Soon" is can't just be a greeting-card cliche anymore; it's a social imperative.