So, by the end of the first year I’d had about enough, especially of my inability to really tell how the sugar in my blood reacted throughout the day and for the different kinds of food.

Grinding my teeth at the price, I got myself a Freestyle Libre system (which isn’t paid for by German health insurance unless the diabetic is already using insulin) around Christmas 2016. It consists of a reading gadget (or an app for a mobile phone, only the most up to date kind, that they developed recently) and the pads (that’s the expensive part since each pad costs 60€ and has to be replaced every two weeks).

The gadget measures the sugar in the liquid in the subcutis tissue continuously. Setting the pad into my upper arm was easy and hurt me very little. Wearing it is no bother. However, I’ve had to learn to keep the arm on the side I’m wearing it away from door frames and other obstacles at arm height. Bumping into one can result in ripping out the pad. That doesn’t hurt much but empties your wallet pretty fast.

With the first pad put in place and activated, I began to experiment right away. I found a couple of patterns that helped me a lot in adjusting my everyday eating habits. I found that for me, eating a late breakfast (past 9am) led to less pronounced spikes of blood sugar than an early breakfast (6am) even though I ate exactly the same things. My body processes rice better than pasta. And taking Metformin after a meal helped me better than before a meal.

Of course those finds will differ from person to person, so it’s not too helpful for you. Still, it was a big improvement to be able to see how my blood sugar reacted when I ate. With the gadget I managed to keep my long term blood sugar HbA1c between 7.7% and 7.3%, but I did not lose another g/lbs of weight.

Then came chaos and stress (health issues in my whole family) and my blood sugar shot up. I was running around so much at that time that I did not gain weight again, but my long term blood sugar rose to 8.4% and my doctor wanted to put me on insulin.

I refused vehemently. Something had to change. Just monitoring the disease wasn’t enough. That was at the beginning of this year, and a book recommendation of my mentor Holly Lisle changed my life. With the preliminaries out of the way, I’ll tell you more about that next week.

 

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Already filled to the brim with interesting facts and marvelous sights, hubby and I traveled onward to Xanthen. The medieval part of that little town is fascinating. It even has two windmills, one directly in the town, the other a bit outside. However, the crowning jewel is the archeological park with the partly reconstructed Roman buildings. Right after entering, there’s a three-dimensional map that shows the reconstructed buildings in dark grey and the areas that still need to be examined in light grey. In the Photo, I colored the Rhine in blue so you can see how close it was to the city. These days. the bank is a lot wider since the river has moved in the last 1500 years.

Xanthen was founded as a Colonia, which means it was a civilian city with a lot of privileges. It was designed by (or more likely the design was approved by) Emperor Traian. It was destroyed around 275 and abandoned. There also was a permanent military fort nearby, but that wasn’t the focus in the museum park.

Naturally the town had everything a Colonia had to have: a Colosseum, temples, bathhouses, houses for living, houses for governing, waste water disposal, fresh water pipelines and so on.

My husband and I were particularly fascinated by the partially reconstructed Colosseum. Look how symmetric the supports were. It was absolutely great to see that the original supports were still partially visible after more than 1500 years when most of the stones from the other buildings had been taken away and used for building the new town in the Middle Ages.

It wasn’t a particularly big Colosseum but there was room enough for all the people in town (roughly 1500 Romans). The sandy arena was big enough to watch wild boar and bear fights as well as Gladiator fights. It was not big enough for horse and cart races.


Although Gladiators were mostly slaves, they were often the center of a lot of admiration. Sometimes they were set free for being really good in the arena. There were strict rules as how the “game” had to be “played” with the armament dictated down to the last buckle. Also, there were rules as to who could fight whom (sorry about the quality of that photo. It was pretty dark where I took it and brightening it up dissolved the descriptions. But you can find more information about gladiators here).

   

They also had several display dummies arming up as Gladiators. But I think they didn’t proportion them well. Gladiators must have had a lot of muscles because their equipment was pretty heavy AND they were training and fighting on sand (have you ever run on a beach? Then you’ll know how exhausting that is). The average fight lasted only a few minutes, said our guide.

 

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Two years ago, my doctor diagnosed me with diabetes. Like all early patients, I got metformin pills to subdue the high peaks of blood sugar, and a measuring system that forced me to prick my fingers regularly. I hated it. The metformin gave me stomach cramps and diarrhea, and the pricking made it hard to type my novels because my fingertips were too sensitive.

So I began my search for alternatives. The first step was to change the metformin pill supplier. There’s an alternate one in Germany that sells the same active ingredient but with different filler components. That helped somewhat although I still had diarrhea sometimes.

Next, I began educating myself on diabetes and what one can do about it. The general consensus at that time seemed to be: ‘Once caught you’ll never get rid of it’ and ‘you cannot avoid getting fatter as soon as you start insulin therapy so try not to get to that point.’ However, advise of how to stay away from insulin treatment was scarce. It basically amounted to ‘do not eat sugar’ and ‘lose weight.’

Well, as anyone can tell you who’s ever tried to lose weight or to avoid sugar, both is nearly impossible. Still, in the year after the diagnosis, I managed to lose 10kg (22lbs) through regular exercise and reduced food intake. I was able to keep the weight through constantly monitoring what I ate, how much I ate, and keeping up the exercise.

Let me assure you, it was a nightmare. I kept thinking about nothing but food the whole time. I had no fun doing sports and fought grumpiness most of the time. Also, my blood sugar levels did not show any sign of improving. The long term sugar was still too high and morning base sugar levels too.

Over the next weeks I’ll tell you some more about the actions I took to get to where I am now (with reasonably good blood sugar levels and another weight loss). After that I’ll share my achievements and setbacks until I am free of diabetes. I’d love to know you at my side.

 

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