Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Last Thursday, I went to Quest Diagnotics to have blood drawn for a lipid panel and a serum glucose test. I also peed in a cup for a microalbumin/creatine ratio. Last night, I went to Shepherd's Hope for my final visit to receive the results of those tests.

For the past month or so I have made a concerted effort to alter my diet. For breakfast, I generally eat a veggie burger, an apple and a banana. The burger is not consumed as a substitute for meat. It is a source of protein, which diabetics must have at every meal, and it is easily heated up in a microwave oven. Very convenient. For lunch, I eat a mixed greens salad with fake lobster for protein. Fake crab is often referred to as "krab." I wonder what artificial lobster should be called? Lovster? I am a little more lax around dinner time, but I try not to venture outside of my dietetic parameters. I have been on Glipizide for a month now. I started to take chromium picolinate and magnesium. Of course, I'm taking Lisinopril for blood pressure to protect my kidneys. My blood glucose levels have fallen dramatically. Where I used to range from over 200-400 per day, my levels generally range between around 100-150. That is a very good thing. Remember, normal is 65-99. Interestingly, and in spite of my change in eating habits, my triglicerides went from 190 to 222 from my previous test a month or so ago. Normal is 150 or less. My total cholesterol remained about the same, 213 to 216. It should be less than 200. My HDL (good) cholesterol dropped from 41 to 37. My LDL (bad) remained about the same at 135. The normal number should be less than 130, but for diabetics, it should be below 100. The urine test was done to determine the shape of my liver. No problems there. Less than 30 is the ideal. Mine is 16. The serum glucose test is the same as what I take twice daily when I prick my finger. The first test was 182. Thursday it was 143. That is the fasting number and it must come down.

One thing I have noticed of importance is the way I feel. My strength is returning. Where, on most days I felt achy and weak, I am now the other way around. I'm not ever quite 100%, but clearly a whole lot better.

On my last visit to the clinic, I had the cold and abrupt Dr. Chan who insisted I didn't need Lisinopril. This time, I asked the attending nurse if I could see a different doctor because of what my pharmacist told me about the benefits of that drug in diabetes and that Dr. Chan would not write a new prescription. I got to see Dr. Velez.

Dr. Velez, it turns out, happens to be a diabetic. I found this out incidentally. I mentioned the Lisinopril and what Dr. Chan had told me. That's not really true, he said. I told him that my mother is diabetic and when she went to see her endocrinologist last week, she took my first test results with her. I wrote down the drugs and supplements I was taking. The drugs were fine and the chromium may help reduce sugar a few percentage points, he told her. Dr. Velez asked me who her endocrinologist is and I told him. "He's my doctor, too!" he responded.

Dr. Velez is a very kind and caring doctor. He is also aware of the benefits of chromium picolinate and magnesium. I asked him if they were absolutely safe to take and he responded positively. I asked him about cinnamon and he said he had never heard about that one. I told him my father's doctor told him it was good for the disease. Well, you can't expect every doctor to know everything about every drug and supplement, but I'm sure he'll look into it. I asked him if I would need to go on a cholesterol medication. Yup. No doubt about it. Mevacor 40mg. Knowing that this would be my final visit there and I would, henceforth, have to fend for myself, he wrote me 3 prescriptions, all for 90 day supplies. Through this clinic, for 90 days, I will save a lot of money on the Mevacor. It will cost me $7 per month for the first three months at the Central Florida Pharmacy Co-op. I checked with my pharmacy and their price is $65 for a 30 day supply. Big difference. $21 as opposed to $195. He also scheduled me for more tests to be done in April at the clinic's expense. This will also save me a tremendous amount of money and will include a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel, a Lipid Panel and a Hemoglobin A1C test. By then, I will have already established myself with a primary care physician who would make me take those same tests at my expense.

I really want to thank the dedicated volunteers at Shepherd's Hope for all they have done for me and the many others without health insurance. If not for them, where would I be today? I especially want to thank the doctor I spoke with last night, Dr. Carlos Velez-Munich, who would be my primary care physician if I had health insurance or could otherwise afford all that diabetes entails. He is a very good man.

If you have it in your heart, please contribute to Shepherd's Hope or any type of similar clinic that is there to help those in need who might not be able to afford quality care. They are out there. All I did was Google "free orlando clinics" and up it popped.

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