Type Two Diabetes

March 25, 2009

I’ve been living with type 2 diabetes since about my mid-twenties. When I was initially diagnosed, my average blood sugar was between three and four hundred–enough to put a man in a coma.

Since then, concerning the illness, I’ve gone from nonchalance to acceptance to resistance.

There is no cure for type two diabetes. Once you have it, you’re stuck with it. However, it is manageable.

Failure to manage your diabetes, or keep your blood sugar in check, can lead to severe blood circulation disorders, which can cause heart disease. Another possibility is diabetic neuropathy, which means the nerves in your body die off. Essentially, you lose your ability to walk. You lose your ability to see. You may lose your ability to hear.

Then you lose your life.

Ultimately, that is the end result of this disease, which has no cure. It kills you.

If you’re a type two diabetic, it means that your body cannot produce enough insulin to work with all of the sugar passing through your bloodstream. At this point, consider the sugar like a slow-working acid consuming you from within. One of your body’s last-resort defense mechanisms for your blood sugar being too high is to shut down until it comes down on its own. This is why you may feel sleepy after too much food. When T2 Diabetes is left unchecked for too long, this occasionally results in a diabetic coma. This, as you can imagine, is about a serious as it gets.

At first, I couldn’t have cared less when I was first diagnosed (the whopper was not something I was willing to part with). As I learned what this disease would do to me if I didn’t keep it in check, I decided to make some changes.

You need to know that you can beat this thing back. It’s not impossible. It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible.

Without medical insurance or any sort of medication, I reduced my blood sugar two hundred points in one year by developing a routine and sticking to it. I’m walking proof that it can be done.

You can Google type 2 diabetes and come back with a host of results that will get you started, and you should consult your physician before making any major changes. That being said, this is what I do.

1). Exercise
Aerobics is the greatest enemy type 2 diabetes has, because it increases your circulation. You should be doing something from the moment you get up in the morning; not only does it wake you up, but it improves your blood circulation immensely. You don’t have to do something hardcore from the moment you roll out of bed. Five minutes of jogging in place, jumping  jacks, or shadowboxing will do just fine. Anything to get you just a little winded.
Getting your weight down will also allow blood to travel more freely through your system, which will greatly reduce your blood sugar. This is my five-minute routine in the morning. Stretch first. Seriously. Trust me on this.

1). Ten axe kicks, each leg (throw your leg straight into the air, as high as you can).
2). Thirty jumping jacks (Three equal one)
3). Ten jab-reverse combinations (switching sides)
4). Shadowboxing

If you have a job that has you sitting a lot, you should get up every half an hour, and for five minutes, get your blood pumping. Jog in place. If you talk on the phone, walk around while you talk instead of sitting down. Little changes like this go a long way.

2). Eat Right
Okay, I’m going to admit that this part bloody sucks at the beginning. You have to give yourself time to get used to it…but yeah, I’m not going to lie to you, this was the hardest part of it for me.
I’ve learned a lot along the way, though. Cinnamon actually reduces blood sugar and goes great in coffee. Swap out sugar for sweetener in everything and you will start to feel results in weeks. Develop a routine for your body. It’s often debated that you can eat three regular, balanced meals, or several smaller meals throughout the day. Both methods work, but talk to your doctor and figure out which one works for you. Whichever you decide, stick with it. I avoid most pastas and breads because they take a long time to digest, resulting in a spike in blood sugar.

My typical meals involve oatmeal for breakfast (which also brings down cholesterol), pizza soup or salad, and then something with baked (not fried, gotta let the fried stuff go) chicken, usually wrapped in a tortilla with cheese and vegetables.

Again, I stress talking to your doctor (I didn’t go into testing your blood sugar here) before changing your diet or starting an exercise routine. What I gave here is what works for me.

What I’m trying to stress is that if you have been diagnosed with type two diabetes, DON’T IGNORE IT. It’s not going to go away, and if you don’t deal with it, it will take everything from you before it takes your life.

That’s not drama, that’s truth. That’s life.

Or death.

Your call.


Meet Me Halfway

March 23, 2009

Saginaw, Michigan

Four Years Ago

“This is a good place to die…”

I have long maintained that you don’t find God; He finds you.

In Saginaw’s north side, one of the toughest ghettos I’ve ever been in, there is a shelter that is not listed in any phone book. You learn of it by being told.

The shelter’s rules used to be rather lax (they were tightening when I left). Be in at a certain time, no weapons, no forced worship. We said a voluntary prayer before each meal and the no weapons rule was governed by an honor system.

I was twenty-nine at the time, and I avoided spending time at the shelter when I could. During the day, I was at the local library, and I spent my nights in the gym downstairs. I didn’t like to be bothered. Busterwolf was only playing at retirement. Truthfully, I had a lot more to give. At least, I thought I did.

Something strange happens during a very routine workout. As I threw roundhouse kicks against the worn, hanging bag, it became an effort to get my legs up. It felt like kicking through quicksand, and the power was gone. It was disconcerting; my kicks used to be my greatest asset.

What’s happening to me? I wondered. Why does this take so much effort? I’d been fighting for more than twelve years, sometimes three or four fights a week. I hadn’t changed my workout, or my diet, all that much. I was still in fairly good shape. If nothing had changed, why did this require so much more effort?

The revelation hit me like a shot to the chest, and I leaned against the bag in desperation, knowing that the thought that had occurred to me was unflaggingly correct…and there was nothing I could do about it. I’m getting older. I can’t do this forever.

It was my first inkling that something needed to change.

I had no idea what to do from there. Fast forward a couple of weeks. Everyone knew who Busterwolf was, they’d heard stories, but these weren’t fans; these were people who wanted a shot at me.

On my way out the door, the man running the front desk that day pulled me to the side. He asked if I was who I was purported to be. I said, “Maybe.” I didn’t know him well enough to answer. To give you an idea of the way this shelter works, the man I was speaking to was an avid churchgoer who would help you sell your food stamps the next day. You be the judge.

I didn’t have a problem with him. He was putting together a very small tournament, nothing big, just local people. The grand prize: one thousand dollars. Would I be interested? In hindsight, it wasn’t a lot of money, and it may not have been worth it for what I endured. I was angry that I was passing out of my prime and I wanted out of the shelter. A thousand dollars on the street is enough to start over….and no one around there could have taken me.

“I’m in.”

At first, it all seemed pretty run of the mill. Fights were held on weekends, and I even got to beat the hell out of a kid who kept getting on my damn nerves. I had learned to control my temper by that point; I just rang his bell, nothing permanent.

I started a friendship with a man who furthers my knowledge of Capoeira—something I’d like to get back into, if I ever get the chance. Nothing beats flying. About midway through this tournament, people had stopped betting against me and a new guy is the only other person who seemed to be working through everyone else. I’d never heard of this guy before, never seen him in the area. His name is Desmond. I got to watch him fight once. He was about five eight, bald as an eagle and dark brown. Wide, glassy, dead eyes. Not an ounce of fat on his whole body. If he’d been three feet taller, I’d have taken him for Tyrone’s younger brother. He was exceptionally brutal and tough; he didn’t try to block anything going at his body. Anything at his head, he avoided (I remember that). He then moved into his opponent and literally beat them down with his fists until they stop moving. He’s not lethal, he just knocks them out and walks away. He’s not trying to kill them or even prove a point. It’s as though this isn’t personal for him.

It almost felt like he was paid to be there…

I watch Desmond break the legs of the man I’ve been studying Capoeira with and realize that my quicksand kicks will not be enough to take Desmond. At this point, a confrontation was almost inevitable; people had already begun to speak about him and me in the finals. I hadn’t been afraid to fight in a long time. I didn’t want to end up crippled.

At this point, I had dismissed the idea of ever seeing my children again, but I hoped I might have more in the future, and I wanted to be able to run around with them. I’m not willing to risk it all for a measly grand. Hell, I’ll just go get a job. After Tyrone, I have nothing left to prove.

I go to the man who organized this entire thing and politely bow out. He asks me if I’m certain that this is what I want to do. Yes, it is.

Two nights later, on my way back to the shelter, someone pulled up to an intersection two blocks away. He stepped out of the car and I saw the lightning flash in his hand at the same time I heard the shot.

The sound of a gunshot has no accurate analogy. A gunshot doesn’t sound like anything else. You know it when you hear it. I hurl myself to the ground at the same time I hear the car pull away.

He fired that at me! HE TOOK A SHOT AT ME!!

I didn’t want revenge. It didn’t dawn on me to chase him down and beat the hell out of him. I nearly wet myself. I had never had a bullet fired directly at me before. I shakily returned to the shelter. The next day, the man who organized the event asked me if I was interested in returning to the tournament. Now him I would’ve beat the hell out of.

What choice do I have? Yeah, I say, I’m still in. Fuckhead.

I consider this the lowest point of my life. Word reached me that this entire thing had been set up to pit Desmond, who had his own reputation, against me, who had never lost (untrue, but I allowed people to believe it). A lot of people had money on this, and as usual, the only participants receive jack. A lot of people were betting on Desmond to send me to the hospital. I didn’t have it anymore, they said. My heart was there, but my body wasn’t. Plus, my nerves were shot. It should have been a walk in the park for Desmond. Desmond would win. Desmond, Desmond, Desmond…

If I won, the people I cost money would probably have me killed. If I lost, Desmond would cripple me, or worse. No way out.

That night, before my cot, sleeping beside the bathroom and beneath the pay phone, I got on my knees and asked God to please meet me halfway. I would give up this life; I would go straight, if He got me out of this.

Three weeks later, Desmond and I reached the finals. The fight was to take place three blocks away, in a train yard that was located on an overpass over fifth street.

We would be undisturbed.

It was snowing very gently that day. I’ve been in the Midwest long enough to be acclimated to the cold. I have short sleeves on under my trademark jacket. I’m very much at peace; I remember smiling as I made my way there. I figured I was about to Go Home, if you take my meaning.

A thin layer of snow blanketed the ground, but it wasn’t enough to hamper movement. As I entered the train yard through the right side, I glanced at the sky.

This is a good place to die.

Desmond, the onlookers, and the man who organized this whole thing were already there. Desmond looked at me as though I was prey as I approached. There was no shaking hands, no acknowledgement, nothing. We knew why we were there; let’s just get down to it.

I began to circle him, hands raised. I remembered the beating he put on my friend when the latter attempted to kick. I was about to find out if I was any good at boxing… I shot a left jab right into his chin. I hate my left jab. I’ve been practicing it for years, and it still feels slow and horribly weak. I avoid using it when I spar.

But this day, his head snapped back.

He looked at me for a moment, lowering his hands as his eyes grew wider.

And then he fell flat onto his back, arms and legs splayed. And he didn’t move.

Yeah, I didn’t believe it either.

No one did anything for a minute. The organizer checked his pulse and looked at me. I asked if I killed him. Did I kill him? I couldn’t have killed him! It was just a jab!

I didn’t kill him. I did, however, discover his Achilles heel by accident. The onlookers seemed disappointed, but a win is a win. I collected my earnings.

That was my last fight for money. I went to work for a telemarketing company shortly thereafter. I did fight again, but it was for life, not for money. I write this blog from the safety of my own apartment, a little miffed at myself because I made less coffee than I thought I did. I need to clean the kitchen, but my client’s work is done and I have a small, but manageable paycheck coming tomorrow. I celebrated three months with my girlfriend, my story is taking off on the web, and I’m in regular contact with my children.

There are way worse places to be in. I have no complaints. I know—and I mean I know– that as long as I continue to work towards my dreams, God will continue to meet me halfway.

Evolving Universal Warrior

March 23, 2009

A Promise Is A Promise…

Sorry it took me a minute to get this out!
I gave my word that when Universal Warrior: Uprising reached 1100 hits, I would officially begin production on the audio podcasts. We actually hit 1100 last week, and the story is closing in on 1200 now.

So, in keeping my word, Universal Warrior: Uprising will officially begin life as a podcast on May 1, 2009. The first two chapters are currently in production, I hope to have at least four by the time we go live.

The podcast is read by Dianne DL Owens and features the music of Adam Fielding. I’m using the freeware program Audacity to put the entire production together.

Oh, the podcasts will be free, just in case you needed to hear that 🙂

What Happens Now
Universal Warrior: Uprising will continue to be available every Monday at 1pm, Central Standard Time. Chapter Fourteen will be the final post uploaded to the current site. Chapter Fifteen (and all subsequent chapters), will appear on www.universal-warrior.com. The site is currently under construction, but you can grab a sneak peek if you like.

Next week will also introduce “The Known Universe”, a weekly newsletter that revolves around the world of Universal Warrior! Each issue will be available to download at www.universal-warrior.com, and will focus on behind-the-scenes information of the story, release dates, and one profile of a supporting character! If there’s anyone in the story you’d like to know more about, drop me a line at admin@youarenowplaying or hit me @IronMan1176 on twitter!

And finally, I will take this opportunity to formally announce the preproduction of Universal Warrior Uprising as an animated series. The story of the series will stay on par with the serial novel, but expect a slew of new material that isn’t in the prose! It wouldn’t be much fun if I followed the novel EXACTLY, would it?

Thank you for following along thus far! I’ll do my best to keep you guessing!
-Avery K. Tingle

Pizza Soup

March 23, 2009

(Single Serving)

Prep Time: 5-15 Minutes

1 Can Condensed Tomato Soup (I recommend Great Value over Campbell’s)
5-10 Slices Armour Pepperoni
1/4 Coup Feather Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning (or Oregano)

OPTIONAL: 2% Lowfat Milk

In a small pot, heat soup on medium according to can instructions, using milk or water.

WHILE soup is heating, stir in Pepperoni FIRST, then add Italian Seasoning or Oregano.

Allow soup to come to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add Mozzarella cheese and allow cheese to melt into soup until it reaches your desired consistency.

Remove from heat, allow to cool before eating.

I usually make this up with two cans, umpteen millions slices of pepperoni and a handful of shredded cheese. This fills me up for HOURS.

One can of soup has 100 calories, no fat (including trans fat) and 22 grams of carbohydrates. The pepperoni and cheese have no carbohydrates, so this is decent meal for type 2 diabetics and those looking to reduce weight.

You can heat this slowly if you have stuff you want to do while prepping, and if you heat it on high, you will have to stay with it, stirring consistently, or it’ll burn.

I prefer to start on medium, allowing the soup to get warm. I add the pepperoni and turn it up to high. I allow the cheese to completely melt (to where it has no consistency anymore) and then as the soup cools, it gets very creamy. Delicious.

I did not invent this recipe. I found it on the back of a soup can almost twelve years ago and I’ve been hooked on it ever since.


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The Family Prayer

March 17, 2009

San Francisco, California

Fourteen Years Ago

If you catch the last train running to Colma and exit Civic Center, you may find yourself directly in front of a 24-hour Carl’s Jr. You may call it Hardees. I called it home.

There is a waist- high, gray concrete, u-shaped border that surrounds the staircase leading to and from the underground station. You could almost feel the unsettled energy as you stepped onto the red brick pavement between the train station and the restaurant, some fifteen feet to your left. By day, hundreds of tourists pass through. By night, the residents made it a battleground. It was my first.

This night, as always, the restaurant is not so busy. The truly homeless seek reprieve from the streets by hustling up enough to buy a meager burger, hoping they can sleep all night. The security guard, a robust, soulful man named Daune (pronounced Dau-Nay, but you can call him D) Paul Colvin III, usually doesn’t care about the homeless sleeping as long as they don’t stink.

As always, Daune’s post, to the immediate left of the store’s entrance, is surrounded by the usual crowd.

There’s Terry, who would be in his forties now. He was struck by a bus in his youth and lost partial use of his left side. He also had the common sense knocked out of him, you’d think, because it wasn’t uncommon to see him suck the toes of random women–before he took them home. Tall, lanky, black, eternally hilarious and relentlessly loyal, he was the mainstay of the group. His mother insisted he get out of the house each night, and he’d end up here to shoot the breeze. There were worse places to go.

Terry was also the best scrapper I’d ever seen. He could throw that left like it meant nothing. Once, during a sparring session, he knocked me straight to the ground. It was the last time I ever underestimated someone because of a physical disability. Other than myself, Terry was the butt of everyone’s jokes, but he could give it right back.

There was Chad, who, for some reason, I always likened to Guile in the Street Fighter series. Save for the hair, they could’ve been brothers, and Chad could take some monster shots. Come to think of it, when he fought, he very rarely took a step back. He never had a use for kicks, but had supreme use of his fists and no end to the amount of punishment he could take. He was my first real boxing influence.

There was Lee…and Lee, well, Lee was a trip. He was a high school teacher. He was bisexual and thought we all didn’t know (Funny story there). He was black-white, in excellent shape, very easy with the ladies and could shoot his legs to Heaven. He took me as kind of a little brother and sharpened the tae kwon do I already had. He was always smiling.

Christian was a wannabe goth, but he was one of the most decent people I’d ever met. He could only fight, but when he was angry. Then again, when he was angry, I saw him get this eerie, toothy grin that would’ve made the Joker shudder. Half-asian, six feet tall and always dressed in black. Christian didn’t fight as much as he inflicted pain on people.

Emalio, a young hustler who had endured a horrible childhood. He was quiet, shy, and the smallest of us. If you brought harm to him, you had to answer to D. You didn’t want to answer to D.

And me?
I had known the group about four months. I was the rookie, the untested one. I could fight, but these guys were on a whole other level, who happily kicked my ass repeatedly. D would randomly reach out and slap me. Didn’t matter where I was in proximity to him. He always a polite little smack upside the head. When I learned to block, it didn’t make a difference. D was an aikido expert. He taught me well.

So this night, things are a different. It’s Thanksgiving.
This night, we’ve all compiled our money and created one big pot to order a bunch of food. D went out of his way to inform me that my homelessness did not make me exempt. If I wanted to eat, I had to contribute. Luckily, the bang-on-the-change-machine scam had worked well that day, and I had fifteen bucks to my name.

We ordered KFC, Pizza,chinese food from right across the street, BBQ from across town, and enough stuff to where we had to unite two tables. Something for everyone.

Naturally, I was the first to reach for all of the food (slap). D ordered us all to take hands, lower our heads, and pray.
This shocked me; D was muslim, I was Christian, Chad was agnostic, and I wasn’t even sure what some of the others were. I asked D who we were supposed to pray to.
He looks me in my face and says; “Does it matter?”

I remember how good I felt when I heard that. I didn’t understand until I had seen more of the world.
We prayed. We prayed to who we believed in.
And then we ate.

The Dark

March 16, 2009

Still young, no longer so wild, I can still feel the pulse of the world when the sun takes its leave.

Life both fades and goes into overdrive. With the nine-to-fivers safely away, those that live in darkness come forth. They stick to the shadows, hoping to be seen only by those of their kind. They wish to be ignored by those who bring lights (especially lights that flash) and curry the favor of other, weaker shadow-mongers who have not yet made sense of this world.

I remember when the stronger rulers of the dark would battle each other for dominance. In those days, crowds would gather and cheer mindlessly, often indifferent to winners and losers and hoping for a spectacular show. Break his bone. Slam him into the ground. Make him scream. Make him beg. The worse the beating, the greater the dominance. The more respected the victor. I first observed this, and then put it into practice in my youth.

No matter the season, the temperature seems to dip considerably. A new set of laws are established, a set parallel and yet a very dark contrast to its sun-born counterpart. One does not call for help. One solves their own problems, by the fist or the gun. Law enforcement is often one’s friends. Those who sell their loyalty are not trusted, and their despised. If they’re strong, they see polite masks, everyone feigning respect and humor to them. It is a game; those that play this charade are waiting for a weak moment.

When it happens, it will not happen in daylight. Too many witnesses in the day. Shadows give birth to illusions. No one is quite sure what they saw. They saw something horrible. They wonder, will that person do that to me?

They will make themselves forget.

People claim a fear of the dark. It’s not the dark they fear; it is the unknown. It is the limited vision. It is the sudden noise that has no rational explanation. It is the clawing feeling at your gut that your killer may be beside your bed as you sleep.

It was the first fear I ever conquered.

I became aware of my surroundings. I learned how to function without sight. I learned how to listen, to smell, to feel. The wind shifts suddenly, you pick up the scent of something that should not be there. Brace yourself…

I learned it was not the dark to be feared. It was those that preyed in it.

And I am nobody’s prey.

What I’ve Learned So Far (Writing)

March 11, 2009

I started Universal Warrior: Uprising (Book One) when Chris Tejeda (@ChrisTejeda on Twitter) introduced me to the world of Web Fiction. I was fresh off of Nanowrimo, having completed the 50k words in one month. I had at last found my calling, and was eager to begin work on something else.

Three months, sixteen posts, and sixty-two comments later, Universal Warrior: Uprising celebrated hitting the 1000 mark. At the time of this writing, the site had garnered 1,005 hits, and more people are picking up the story at its beginning every day.

I don’t consider the story a success; rather, I see this as laying the groundwork for my future. I most certainly never expected the story to take off the way it did, and it always makes me grin to see people tuning in every Monday before the story goes live. I enjoy the fact that people enjoy my work.

I will consider the story a success when I am paid to do it. I’ve had people ask me lately how I get paid to blog (which I don’t) and what methods I use to get the story out to the public. So I thought I’d take this time to illustrate the methods of my madness, most of which were loaned to me by someone far more experienced.

1). Know Your Story.
Universal Warrior has been in my head, in one form or another, for the past twenty years. I know each of the 500+ characters that inhabit this world, I know where they’re going, and I know where everything ends up. Even so, I outline each chapter long before I type the first word. I recommend everyone do this, unless you’re extraordinarily talented. Planning your work in advance is a great way to avoid writer’s block. If you get stuck, refer to your notes. It’s okay if you end up with something far outside of what you planned, but at least you have your plan to fall back on.

2). Get Into Social Networking.
You don’t go cliff jumping without a parachute. You don’t launch your epic without having someone know about it. These days, you should spend almost as much time networking as much as you do writing. What good is it to put all this effort into your hyper-mega epic if absolutely no one was aware of its release?
Never, ever dismiss any social networking site. You never know who’s there, and who might promote your work. If you’re not using twitter, you should be. You should be using Twitter if you’re in any creative field. You should be using Twitter if you get out of bed in the morning. If you’re not on Twitter, stop reading this right now and go sign up. Then check out this site that lists people you might want to start following.
I release Universal Warrior through Twitter, MySpace, Friendfeed, Facebook, and I’m starting to post announcements through Web Fiction Guide, and next week I’ll do the same on Muse’s Success. Get your work out there. It’s better to be hated than unknown; you can always improve.
Okay, now, the flip side to this coin is this; don’t get on these sites and speak only of your work, rambling on aimlessly about how great your stuff is without interacting with anyone else. This is the quickest way to get blocked.
Network. Meet people. Establish genuine connections. Then talk about how great your work is.

3). Keep your Word
Universal Warrior comes out each Monday by 1pm CST, no matter what. I have only missed the 1pm deadline once, and I have never once missed a Monday deadline. I sincerely believe that this is why I’ll have up to ten hits every Monday before the story is released.
Before you even have a story, you have your reputation. Build it and they will come.

In conclusion, I have to say that I spend anywhere from one to three hours churning out words on various projects. You have to be dedicated or your lack of it will show up in your work. I haven’t had a day in weeks where I didn’t put out at least a thousand words (of course, this is because I have no job).

I also have to say that you probably have to be a little lucky. There isn’t a week that goes by that I wonder whether or not I will do irreparable damage to my fledgling fan base. Is it too long? Is this in character? Is this too much backstory? Is this enough action? Not enough action? Is this explained well enough? Am I revealing too much? Is this the story I should be telling?

Welcome to my world.

There are other methods I use, which include:

*Keeping a Thesaurus and two Dictionaries at my desk at all times

*Having a window to stare out of during ADD moments

*Taking a break every hour to read, play, do pushups, or anything not related to the task at hand

*Having appropriate music on at all times

All of this is just what works for me. There is no miracle cure. There is no magic formula that will turn you into the next Stephen King. In the end, you have to find what works for you, and then stick with it. Even more importantly, if you’re finding that your methods don’t work, you need to be open-minded enough to realize that something needs to change.

Ultimately, you decide your own fate.

Thanks for reading, and good luck.

Special thanks to Molly (@bookwormm21) my unflaggingly detail-oriented editor (and girlfriend), MeiLin Miranda (@MeiLinMiranda) for the tutelage, Chris Tejeda (@ChrisTejeda) for introducing me to this world, and Dianne (@keikomushi) for her work advancing in advancing Universal Warrior (and introducing me to podcasting!)