13 October

Gloomy Morning, Bright Day. Next, Diabetes Confab

by Jon Katz

The day started gloomily; I was drawn to the North Side gallery window; the Leica monochrome is made for this.

This morning, another chapter on the path to good health.

My primary care nurse practitioner, Amy Eldridge, is doing what good primary care doctors and nurses do. She’s taking all the tests, exams, conversations and weaving them into a whole picture.

She’s invited me to meet with her this morning and talk about my diabetes, as long as the surgery went so well, and the rest of my health is now on the table.

In preparing for my foot surgery, I saw every doctor I had to make sure I was healthy, and I found that I was healthy despite some pulmonary problems and other small issues.

The surgery went very well; the stitches and my original wound are healing rapidly and well.

While talking to these doctors – especially my cardiologist – the subject of my diabetes come up and I learned that had sleep apnea that is severe.

I came to see that I had lost some focus on my diabetes; I was distracted by other things – my food, the sleep apnea mask that is now such an integral part of my life. It felt overwhelming at first.

The mask has been an excellent success for me; I slept for five straight hours last night, which may be a lifetime record for me.

But I welcome Amy’s invitation; my diabetes is under control – my numbers average out to 120 in the morning. Still, as long as I am focusing on my health, I want to see if I can learn more about diet and make sure diabetes doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. For me, the key to health is listening to what skilled professionals tell me.

In our cynical and divisive time, many of us seem to think we don’t need professional people and more, we can just make up our own minds. I have learned over and over again that this is false. We do not have doctors and scientists and professionals to guide us.

I don’t want to age in a way that health, medicine, and doctors become the focal point of my life and mind. But I don’t want to ignore it either. It’s a tricky balance act, but so far, so good. One of the many reasons I will never retire is that I never want health to become the focal point of my life.

I don’t want health to take up all the space in my head.

This is why I asked Maria to come with me today. I want to re-examine my diabetes treatment. ┬áDiabetes is a pervasive and complex disease; it affects almost every part of the body. The doctors say if you don’t control it, it will control you. Maria and I need to be on the same page when it comes to eating, shopping cooking.

I could use her help, and she is happy to help.

There is a lot of conflicting and confusing information about diabetes. Maria and I find ourselves scrambling to figure out which foods are bad for me, which foods are okay once in a while, which foods are dangerous and unhealthy.

And which ones are essential to keeping my diabetes under control

Diabetes is not like a bone spur operation. It is never static, never “done.” ┬áThere is no single medicine or surgery to cure it. It is not curable. But it can be controlled, a mix of the right food, the right medicine, the right exercise, and yes, the right sleep..

I intend to keep on it, primarily through diet and exercise. I’ll resume a more normal life and be back at the Mansion, Bishop Maginn, and the gym when the stitches come out next week. I’ll also be back on my walks.

Amy has some new ideas for me and I want to hear them.

So this morning, we’ll meet with her and see where we stand. I’m asking for her to lower the amount of insulin I take. Next week, when my stitches come out, I’ll push my health back into the shadows for a bit.

Aging teaches me that there is no stasis when you’re 74, only space in between new challenges. There isn’t space in my head for everything at once.

I love and appreciate my life, and I will be happy to return to it, however long that lasts.


  1. I know an attorney who told me that medical professionals almost acted a bit afraid when treating her. They treated her well. Maybe Jon it’s because you have a measure of fame, but from your writings you are receiving top-notch care. When the pandemic hit, my partner’s oncologist would not see his patients. And then he quit or moved on. My partner liked his oncologist and this was a blow. I won’t bore you with my experiences or my families, but when the doctor looked up the McDonald’s menu for you my mouth dropped open. How many physicians would take the time?
    Or put on your socks? And your primary care nurse seems to be doing what she should be doing. My sister was diabetic. To be honest she didn’t take very good care of herself and she had a lot of stress in her life.
    I do agree with you that when we age health issues shouldn’t be are only focus. Yes, it’s an issue but when someone’s only source of conversation is about their own health it becomes annoying.

    1. Jean, I am not famous, and my doctors have no idea what I do or have done. I am fortunate to be in a medical group that sees to emphasizes caring. I am aware that most people don’t have that level of care, but it has nothing to do with who I am. Their other patients report the same thing. Some of it may be attitude; I don’t whine or complain. If I ever had a measure of fame, it is gone blessedly. I think you get what you give.

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