Alan Chartock: I Publius

Smoking is an addiction but, as in my case, so was eating bad things. Diabetes is now a national epidemic and sugar is the new heroin.

I’m catching up with Dr. Fauci. I love the guy. He has real guts and most importantly, he is 79 years old. I have now caught him because I am 79 today as I write this. I think I’m a young 79. Fauci used to run but now he walks four or five miles a day. Me, too: I never, ever miss. Fauci has not retired, nor have I, despite hearing from a few who think that, since they retired, I should, too.

I do have a sort of minor league diabetes. I used to take some serious meds, but now I am a dedicated follower of a Canadian nephrologist, Dr. Fung, who has championed fasting for reversing Type 2 diabetes. It has worked miracles with me. My numbers are way down to the almost non-diabetic range. Basically, Fung believes that when you fast, you force the body to eat the glucose in your system. I also follow the Whole 30 program and my diet is very strict. It’s hard to do if you live with people who love to eat, albeit in little portions. My beautiful and brilliant wife of nearly 50 years (Sept. 6) is one such person. I think it’s fair to say that she thinks I’m nuts as far as this goes, but, hey, it seems to work.

I am thin. If you follow Dr. Fung and the Whole 30 diet, you will lose weight. But of course, you have to stick to it. No exceptions. No ice cream. No bread. No booze. The big problem for me is that I am now too thin. As I of this morning, I weigh 118 pounds. My fast means that I can’t make exceptions.

One of my favorite times of the year is when I go to a doctor’s office and they give you a long questionnaire, which always asks you whether you smoke. When I proudly answer that I do not, they then ask you whether you ever have smoked. I sanctimoniously answer that, too, in the negative.

Unfortunately, my long-departed father was a smoker, which, despite denials, was always confirmed by a trip to the bathroom where the window was always open and the residual smell of smoke was always present. I get it. Smoking is an addiction but, as in my case, so was eating bad things. I mean, who wants to go without ice cream for the rest of your life? But diabetes is now a national epidemic and sugar is the new heroin.

Then there is the matter of my bad back. Bad backs are also an epidemic. I’ve had my share of operations. Advertisers are spending millions to sell us bad backers everything under the sun with assurances of positive outcomes. Dr. Fung may have answers for diabetics, but backs are another thing. All my docs tell me to keep on walking. President Harry Truman walked every day. Of course, someone tried to kill him on one of those walks. Ah well, you can’t win ‘em all.

I have always believed in the principle of the guiding hand, something greater than we are. I loved being a professor for a lot of years. Young people can teach you a lot. Somehow I had the good luck to get into running WAMC. When I was a very young man, I ran the alternative Fire Island newspaper. I had a good look at the economics of newspapers and why print is on the way out.

I always try to tell the truth as I see it and that gets a few people angry, but hey, that’s a matter of character, mine. Your hair would stand up on end if you heard or read some of the stuff that has been directed to me. Hey, that’s what comes of living for 79 years. I think I’m lucky.