Monday, November 13, 2006

I don't care what you read in the obituaries

I'm still alive.

What an interesting ride it's been.

If you're here, I'm going to assume you already know that after I started putting together the Picolata Review, I was offered a new job. When I took the new job, I felt like I had enough energy to do both, plus blog, plus write On the Bluff, and continue seeking an agent for Transit Gloria.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. In the weeks that followed I published two issues of the Picolata, and put together a third. Before that third issue was published, I ran out of energy.

I went to work exhausted, and came home too tired to do more than eat and go to bed. I began losing weight. I lost 27 pounds between the end of August and the third week of October, and despite my near total exhaustion I wasn't able to sleep more than a couple of hours a night.

People I barely know began commenting on my weight loss and appearance, and asking if I was okay. I finally took their concern as an indication that I might not be - that I might, in fact, be far from okay.

On October 20, I saw my doctor. He ran a series of tests, and when he tested my blood glucose level it was too high for his monitor to read. He sent me to a nearby lab for more testing (stat!) and my blood sugar was over 720 mg/dl. If you have a diabetic in your family, you probably already know what the doc told me - that I was about to have a stroke. Patty LaBelle hawks glucose monitors on television, and says she was diagnosed as a diabetic after she collapsed on stage with blood glucose level of 500 mg/dl.

I didn't have a stroke, and after several weeks of insulin therapy and the best medications our modern science can provide, I'm out of immediate danger. I am a diabetic, and will be on medications for the rest of my life. My life expectancy went down by 10 years with my diagnosis, and my chances of having a heart attack or stroke went up by 40 percent. Those are sobering statistics.

I wasn't obese, or even overweight. I'm athletic, an outdoorsman, and I quit smoking years ago. Other than a family history of diabetes, I really had none of the traditional risk factors. I did have one, though, which doctors only recently realized can trigger adult-onset diabetes: stress. Lots and lots of stress.

The news isn't all bad. I'm okay now. I'm forcing myself to take things a little less seriously. I've gained back 10 lbs, and feel pretty good. I'm still reporting the news, and have even appeared on television twice recently, once as a moderator for a candidate forum, and Friday I appeared on Week in Review, a local weekly news roundtable. I just watched myself on tape, and to my own eye I look like a leaner, harder version of my old self. In the words of Dabney Coleman's character from Modern Problems, "I ain't no freak. I'm a damned good looking man."

Thanks for stopping by and leaving notes while I was away. I saw them, and appreciated them, and I apologize for not responding sooner. I just didn't have the energy.

Please take care of yourselves, and remember the words of Warren Zevon, who said, "Enjoy every sandwich."

Mark Pettus,
Monday, November 13, 2006


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