Holy @#$! Amazing Stories, Vol. 6: Super Diabetic Dude

This is, like, straight out of the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, what? (a Book Club fav of mine). If you like superheroes, or just real-life diabetes heroes, read this:

Hi Amy,

My name is Chris Cracolice I am 49 years old and have had diabetes for 45
of those years. I remember growing up with diabetes and how it not only affected
me physically but mentally as well.Dude_2

One of the most vivid memories I have was as
any child growing up in the 60’s was watching Batman, Superman and Tarzan on TV.
Of course the next day I would go outside and have my own adventures as being
that Super Hero. One day I was being Tarzan and it hit me if I was out in the
middle of a jungle without insulin I would die. This affected my self-esteem in
many ways and still does to this day. I was not like other kids who could do
things that I was not able to. For years I wanted to help other children with
diabetes not have to go through this.

A couple of years ago I came up with an
idea of a child Super Hero with diabetes called Diabetic Dude. I have written
and illustrated a book about Diabetic Dude with his sidekick FRED who is a
glucose monitor Fast Reliable Educating Data, and his foes the Glucose Gang. I
have the book on CD with the format to be printed from home computers a 24-page
full color 8.5 by 11 inch book. The book is also printable in color book form.
With a windows PowerPoint slide show. Please check out my website and let me
know what you think: www.superdiabeticdude.com.

You can respond from the site. Thank you,

Chris Cracolice

Well, I checked out his site and discovered that this very same text is posted in the “About Myself” section. But I still thought this was one holy @#$! amazing story, worthy of showcasing here. Personally, the closest I ever got to diabetic superhero-hood was the spinach-and-kryptonite effect of High and Low Glucose, as in “When I’m up, I’m UP — and when I’m down, Gimme SUGAR!”


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Holy @#$! Amazing Stories, Vol. 5: Gastric Bypass Surgery No Help for Diabetes

Last week at that diabetes group (the one where I gave the blog talk) I also met a woman who wouldn’t stop talking about her gastric bypass surgery — a whole new realm of diabetes concerns for someone like me. The more I listened, the more I shared her frustration and disappointment. It seems this is a classic case of being medically misled -– in terms of confusing weight loss with a diabetes cure — and then dumped on the sidelines once the case becomes uninteresting. She agreed to let me share her story, in brief based on her testimony. So here it is:

About 3 years ago, Mary Lou Gerstle was severely overweight and struggling with poor glucose control. She began to research gastric bypass surgery, a hot new treatment that promised not only to slash her body weight, but to essentially eliminate her struggles with glucose control. NOT. “It’s not the cure-all they promise you,” she now says.

testimonials and recommendations from doctors suggested great outcomes of
control following the gastric surgery. Mary Lou was so convinced that the
Roux -E-Y
gastric bypass

was the right move for her that she spent a full TWO YEARS struggling with
approvals, locating MD’s familiar with the procedure, and making the rounds of
consults necessary for the stringent screening process. There were a dozen prerequisites required to
be approved for the surgery, including
a complete detailed history of past and failed attempts at dieting
and weight loss.

In the end
Mary Lou was operated on at UCSF, fully covered by insurance, and lost 100
pounds as a result. She feels
the surgery was worth it. The quality of her overall health has improved.
But she’s also bitterly disappointed, for two reasons:

1) “The real reason I had the gastric bypass done was to
improve my diabetes… My diabetes has not
gotten better… It’s been
no help for glucose control! I’m even more out of control
now than I was before. Now I know that there’s no real clinical evidence
that this surgery
helps diabetes. In fact, right now
I am considering an insulin pump.”

2) “There has been absolutely NO aftercare. I was seen by the
surgeon a couple of times, but he was NOT available post-operatively. There was no one available to help me, and I
did NEED help after the surgery. A support group was ‘promised’ 6 months
BEFORE the surgery and was still not formed 6 months AFTER the surgery.”

Now before
you start judging, thinking someone who got free weight loss surgery has no reason
to complain, consider Mary Lou’s final statement:

“I would NOT recommend this surgery for everyone. This is MAJOR surgery, and there are many serious risks. I feel this surgery is a person’s LAST option for weight loss. The result of the surgery may get a person to an average size, but it is just a tool. And it is still a Day-to-Day Struggle. I still have to take in fewer calories and balance it with regular exercise. I now have a tiny stomach due to my rerouted intestines, so I have to measure and weigh everything I eat -– tiny portions.

“I have finally gotten over my disappointment of not achieving better glucose control… But I also feel follow up is ESSENTIAL for people who go through this procedure. I feel very cheated by UCSF. (This surgery) is also a LIFELONG commitment. It is NOT a cure!”

(Note that
UCSF is a leading medical center with an excellent reputation, so I have to
assume the problems with this surgery are universal.) Thank you for sharing, Mary Lou.


7 Responses

  1. Zazzy
    Zazzy April 6, 2006 at 10:44 am | | Reply

    The problems are not universal, but they are far too common. There is a program in our area that is set up with an aftercare group, nutritionist, exercise physiologist, – essentially a whole team. One of the problems has traditionally been that people travel long distances to have the surgery and it’s hard to get aftercare 1000 miles from home.

    It doesn’t surprise me that gastric bypass doesn’t solve all insulin resistance issues. Consider that insulin resistance is one of the reasons we gained weight in the first place (or at least that’s one of the theories). The body attempts to compensate for it’s inability to use insulin efficiently by producing more insulin – which encourages the body to store fat. I don’t see where logically that’s going to disappear with the surgery.

    I’ve kept an eye on this issue although I won’t pretend to have read everything about it. I think there’s a certain amount of reading into it what we want to see. I have not seen anything that I’d consider promises of cures of insulin resistance or type 2. There was some improvement for some people and I guess maybe that raised a lot of our hopes.

    Best of good wishes to Mary Lou for her continued recovery and good health.

  2. Rachel
    Rachel April 6, 2006 at 1:57 pm | | Reply

    I know a few people who have had WLS and all but one of them had excellent results with getting the blood glucose levels down. Will they be down in a year, or five years, or ten years, I wonder?

    It’s really dangerous because all of these people consider themselves to be cured – I hope they are still getting A1C levels checked on a regular basis at the very least.

  3. Paula Hill
    Paula Hill April 7, 2006 at 6:42 pm | | Reply

    I have been a diabetic for 61 years. I am now taking 5 shots of insulin a day (Levalier plus Humalog) because I did not feel that the pump would be appropriate for me. I certainly would like to know more about the new Russian “thing”. Due to asthma I will not be a candidate for the inhaled insulin.

  4. Jack
    Jack April 9, 2006 at 1:05 am | | Reply

    The previous poster said “Levalier plus Humalog”. I think they mean Levemir and Humalog…

    One basic concept that is difficult for some people to understand is mentioned in a brochure that I’m selling for $10,000. It’s called, “How to lose weight by eating less.”

    If anyone is interested, send $10,000 to…[edited]. :)

  5. Donna Kersey
    Donna Kersey April 11, 2006 at 1:23 pm | | Reply

    Just to let you know 98% of the people with type 2 get super resutlts with WLS….part of the problem with this story is that the teller did not advise if the person having WLS still had pancreas function…if the answer was no then WLS would not have helped. For the past 5 years at least a WLS program needs to be certified before a insurance compay will consider paying for it and the cerification process requires a very active support group and other services. The story that was told does not sound right….I think there might be more to it than the person with WLS told! No I have not had WLS but my type 2 mother has and I did about 2 years of investigation before I would agree to be her suppport person for the surgery. Perhaps you all should checkout obsityhelp.com…..much better information then what this one person has to say

  6. Rose Vasquez
    Rose Vasquez April 18, 2006 at 2:30 pm | | Reply

    I must be part of that 2 % that along with the person in the original story did not acheive good glucose control after an RNY gastric bypass. I know exactly why this has happened to me. I was on insulin prior to the gastric bypass and I gained 75 lbs in the 5 months before my surgery. I quickly lost 120 in 8 months by 4 months post op I was on only an oral pill prandin before meals for diabetes. My levels got very near normal. As I started to be able to eat more, my gastric bypass did nothing to teach me to control bad eating habits. I wanted the miracle cure for diabetes. It didn’t happen. I am now 4 years post op and I have been very non compliant with regards to my diabetes. Still because I eat smaller meals, I do not have readings as high as I use to before my gastric bypass, so I do have to say that the gastric bypass was of some benefit. I recently decided to ask to be placed on Byetta injections along with Prandin before meals. This week for the 1st time in years I am having nornal blood sugar levels. This not attributed to Byetta alone, but also to coming to terms that there is no magic cure for diabetes. It takes a lifetime commitment to management via proper diet and exercise while taking advantage of the tools at our disposal for management, including drugs, and weight loss surgeries.

  7. Ellen
    Ellen December 23, 2007 at 2:49 pm | | Reply

    I’ve had the opposite experience. I too had the Roux-en-Y procedure, but my surgeon is doing extensive research on the procedure. As a result, I have had excellent follow-up care, including a support group and office visits. Six years and two more surgeries later (abdominoplasty and thigh reduction), I have lost and kept off over 100 pounds. I have also stabilized my Type II diabetes. I still take oral meds, but the highest my HA1C has been is 7.1. Before the surgery, it was never that low, and it is now regularly lower and within normal limits.

    I am still significantly overweight. I’d like to lose another 80 pounds, but that’s not realistic. If I can get my weight under 200, I’ll be thrilled.

    Living postbypass is not nearly as easy as many think it is. My diet has to be more rigid now than it was before the surgery. I follow many of the guidelines that are given for diabetics such as eating healthful snacks throughout the day. I have to be vigilant about the amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber I get over the course of the day. Malnutrition is a concern since I do not fully absorb the nutrients from the food I eat. I have had to cut out almost all junk food, sweets included, because I need more nutrients than it provides. It also randomly causes stomach pain which is a good reason to stay away from.

    The good thing about following the postbypass diet is that I also have the bases covered for my diabetes. While I don’t eat as well as I need to all the time, over the last six years, my diet has steadily improved bit by bit. I am far healthier now than I was six years ago.

    The bottom line is that the surgery only truly works if the patient is willing to do the hard work postsurgery. It’s just like eating properly for your diabetes. If you don’t do it, you won’t get the results you’re hoping for.

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