Wednesday, December 15, 2004

My New Allergy

I’m allergic to shellfish. Terribly allergic. So allergic that it can kill me. Not only does my face swell up but my throat constricts and I can choke to death.

After my third and most serious reaction I knew for sure that I was allergic. The first two reactions were small ones, after eating a shrimp dinner and a crab dinner. When I had the third and worse reaction I had eaten only one shrimp. I haven’t eaten any shellfish for sixteen years. The reason is simple. Eat it and I’ll die. That was enough to convince me to never eat it again.

I’ve never even visited an allergist about it. I’ve never really seen a reason to. If I just keep away from shellfish I’ll be fine. In fact, I don’t even crave it. How can I crave something that is that bad for me?

Now I have a new allergy- sugar. I need to view sugar and carbs that turn into sugar exactly the same way as I view shellfish. If I eat one shrimp I can die a quick death. If I eat sweets, drink regular soda or eat too many carbs I can die a slow painful death. Why?

I am in serious danger of becoming a diabetic. There I said it. It’s out there and this will make me more accountable.

I was gestational diabetic with both my pregnancies but my last and most recent pregnancy was a lot worse. Since I had this baby seven months ago I swore that my life style was going to change completely and it has a little, but not completely.

The reason this worried me so much is that my mother became gestational diabetic when she was pregnant with me at 39. She never took care of it and it came back as full blown diabetes when she was 52. By 61 she had her first heart attack and she died three days shy of her 69th birthday. My grandmother and my aunt also died from complications caused by diabetes. What does that mean to me?

It means that I was eight years younger than my mother was when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes for the first time, so you do the math. If I don’t take care of this now I could be diagnosed a diabetic in 10 years or less.

There’s a good reason why so many people are on this Atkins and South Beach craze. People make fun of them but there is something to it. People are trying to cut their carbs because diabetes is very prevalent in our society today. Some who don’t even have diabetes in their family are being diagnosed because of their weight or sedentary lifestyle. That’s the other important factor for diabetes- lack of exercise.

I could be sad because diabetes runs in my family. I could pretend it isn’t going to happen to me and eat whatever I want and gain more weight, but I can’t. I know what I need to do.

I’ll use my impending diabetes as a blessing in disguise. Diabetes is going to force me to eat right and to exercise. I’ll be skinny for the first time in my life since high school! Watch out! Or as Sandra Cisneros would say, "Whatchale!"

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