I want a new drug


I want a new drug, one that won’t make me sick.
One that won’t make me crash me car, or make me feel three feet thick.

Now that that will be stuck in your head the rest of the day…

Over the summer I got into a bit of a blogging funk. Part of it has to do with a mild case of sleep depravation. Having a nearly three month old in the house along with a two year old that is working on some molars can do that to you.

Another part was keeping up with my professional responsibilities for my two clients while using toothpicks to keep my eyes open.

However, the third, and biggest part, was the fact that I was just in a foul mood. I had lots of content ideas, but little desire to put my fingers to my keyboard and knock them out.

It has been nearly two years since I was diagnosed with diabetes. I wrote a post shortly thereafter entitled “Paying the Piper”, as my diagnosis was entirely my fault. Ignoring my family history I didn’t make physical fitness or proper nutrition a point of emphasis in my life as much as I did trying to develop my now failed professional career.

I vowed to change, and change I did. In the months following that fateful day I quickly dropped about 25 pounds. However, it was still a far cry from what I needed to lose.

After losing the initial weight I got a little complacent, or maybe confident is a better word, and allowed myself a little more room in my diet. We resumed going out to eat occasionally, which obviously is rife with problems if you are supposed to be watching what you eat.

Another factor is the numerous drugs I have been on since then. I’ve been taking at least two different drugs to control my blood glucose levels, an ace inhibitor to protect my kidneys and a statin to protect my heart. First metformin and insulin were employed to control my sugars, then the insulin injections were switched out for a different drug that became problematic.

The new drug I was put on is a class of drugs that is currently under fire for its risk causing congestive heart failure. One of the biggest side effects, that I was unaware of at the time, is excessive weight gain. So, essentially a drug that is supposed to help maintain my blood glucose control could become a contributing factor in my demise by causing heart problems or by helping me gain more weight that was at the root of my diabetes to begin with.

Whoever said there was better living through chemistry is a lying liar that lies.

I have always been a big guy. I was the kid you probably made fun of in grammar school because I had to get my clothes from the “husky” department at Sears. At my worst ever I weighed 319 pounds thanks to a 80+ hour a week job, a sedentary lifestyle, a penchant for pizza and a high capacity for single malt scotch.

In 2000, when my business dreams collapsed I finally had the impetus to drop some weight. It was called the unemployed man’s diet – no cash, no food. I proceeded to drop around 70 pounds by the time I moved to Charlotte in late 2001 and I settled at that weight for a good long time.

At the time I was diagnosed with diabetes I was officially 244 pounds, which based on BMI charts is still significantly off my ideal weight. So, when I quickly dropped to 219 I was excited and things appeared to finally be moving forward for me.

Then the insulin was replaced by a new drug (in an effort to protect my pancreas from long term insulin use) and I ballooned from 219 to 263 in a matter of months. To be clear, I’m not dispensing with any personal responsibility for this weight gain, but my diet didn’t not change all that much. For the most part I had curbed my sweet tooth and was doing better with portion control. The drugs were clearly the main culprit, especially after my deeper research into the side effects of this class.

In order to fix this situation I had to change drugs yet again. This time I had to go back to an injection twice a day for a drug with an $80/month co-pay. This particular drug not only helps to keep my sugars in check, but it also has an appetite suppression effect. Another cool thing is it contains a synthetic protein derived from the saliva of Gila monsters, which is kinda cool.

The good news is that the drug has been effective and my weight dropped to 252 in about three months. With a diet change I enacted about a week ago I’ve managed to drop another seven pounds to get to 245. The reality, however, is that I still need to lose roughly double the weight of my son.

Not long after I was put on my new medication, my son followed me to where I would take the shot with his toy syringe from his veterinarian kit. He lifted up his shirt, pretended to inject himself along with me and said “taking a shot with Papa”.

If anything was going to make my situation more real for me, it was that. It absolutely destroyed me that he was copying me as I took my medication for a condition that I so foolishly allowed myself to fall victim.

After I disposed of my needle and returned my drugs to their proper place I gave him a big hug and told him that I was going to do everything I could to make sure that he would never have to do anything like that, ever.

In a way that could sound like an empty promise, but its not. He is a very active little boy and we have been vigilant with what he eats. He tolerates veggies, loves fruit, gets lots of whole foods and very rarely eats anything processed or prepackaged. We aren’t militant about it, but we read labels and won’t buy anything that we don’t deem appropriate – no matter what the resulting tantrum might be like.

I don’t want this for my son or daughter and it is up to me to lead by example. Over the next few weeks I’ll be talking about the things I’m doing to help be that example.

The new drug I want is no drugs.  The road I have ahead of me isn’t going to be fun and it won’t be easy, but it is something that I have to do.

Not for me, but for my kids.

Photo credit: Andres Rueda on Flickr.

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About PJ Mullen

PJ Mullen is a dad, husband, amateur chef and prolific air drummer blogging about his life as a dad and anything else that is on his mind. Occasionally he blogs about being a dad in the kitchen at peaches en risotto and is a contributor over at Digital Dads.

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  • http://www.almightydad.com Keith Wilcox

    You know, your story sounds a lot like mine, except my problem has been skin cancer, not diabetes. Skin cancer, like diabetes is 9 times out of 10 totally preventable by not being a dumb dumb in one’s youth and spending all day everyday outside surfing with no sun protection (My lineage is Northern German and Scottish for God’s sake!). Now there’s nothing I can to except go to the dermatologist every 6 months to a year and have a new carcinoma burned off. It really stinks. But, I too tell my boys that I’m going to make sure they don’t have to deal with the same problems. It’s a joy to be a parents who’s learned a lesson and to pass it on to your kids!

  • http://LifeofaNewDad otter321

    I know you will do a great job protecting the little man by teaching him about proper diet and exercise. Prayers for you. I hope you get your new drug.

  • http://www.worldofweasels.com/ Weasel Momma

    When you think about a father having a shot with his son, this is not what we usually think of. Good luck.

  • http://www.pjmullen.com/ PJ Mullen

    Wow, I knew you had issues with skin cancer, but I didn’t realize the extent. It is a painful lesson that we pay for our stupidity, but hopefully our children are smart enough to learn from our mistakes.

  • http://www.pjmullen.com/ PJ Mullen

    Thank you, my friend. I know I”ll get there. First time in my life I’m actually serious about correcting the problem.

  • http://www.pjmullen.com/ PJ Mullen

    Thank you, and, no, this is how I imagine my son and I having our first shot together, either. Fortunately his was a toy. Mine, regrettably, was not.

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  • wahdaholic

    Being a father is a great feeling, and you must be a model to your children, you will do anything for your family and sacrifice to be able to give them a better future.

  • Mike

    I’m glad to see you have strong motivation (your kids) and you feel like you’re the one who has the capability to make changes.  Some people think that it’s the doctor who gets the credit or blame for their health outcomes.  Whether you can get off the meds or not, show your kids that you’re taking responsibility for your own health.  Best of luck with making the lifestyle changes.  I’m a type I and can fully understand your struggles.

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