Krishna Kaliannan’s Diagnosis Story

“You cannot go on ‘explaining away’ for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on ‘seeing through’ things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

Symptomatic

In the months leading up to my T1D diagnosis, I became highly skilled in the art of explaining things away.
I was 17 at the time, a senior in High School in Southern California.

 

The side effects of the disease crept up on me slowly.

 

At first, it was just a few extra glasses of water here and there at home. Two glasses in the morning with breakfast. A glass when I got home from school. Three more after working out.

 

“No big deal” I thought. “I must be just a little dehydrated. California is hot and sunny after all.”

 

But it got worse. Shortly thereafter, I graduated to water fountains at school. I was no longer able to go from 8AM to noon without water. So I’d sneak out of class a few times a day to go binge on water out of a fountain.

 

I fell hard in love with those 30 second binges.

 

At first it was a bit strange. I felt like something was wrong. But then I remembered – California is hot and sunny. All good.

 

Slowly, the monster inside of me grew. About a month later, I couldn’t even do the thirty minute drive from school back home without water.

 

So I’d buy two gallon jugs of water after school at the liquor store. I’d drink one right when I got in my car. And fifteen minutes into the drive, I’d pull over to the side of the freeway and drink the second.

 

“Definitely a little sketchy pulling over on the side of the freeway to get my fix”, I thought. “It’s probably just a temporary thing, no big deal.”

 

This process gradually evolved into carrying gallon jugs of water everywhere I went. Literally everywhere.

 

I’d roll up to school with my backpack on and one gallon of water on each shoulder. I’d roll up to the gym, same thing. Back home, same thing. At least at the gym it was sort of normal.

 

At this point I was getting weird looks. But hey, who can hate on drinking water? Water is good for you, right?

 

But this can only go on for so long…

 

The Diagnosis: Hell on Earth

One day, I get accepted to UPENN for college and decide to go to their welcome day.

 

My parents and I fly in to Philly a day early to scout the campus.

 

As we are walking around, I collapse.

 

My parents take me to the ER and there, the Doc delivers the bad news: “Krishna – you’re blood sugar is over 1,000. You have diabetes.”

 

At first, I’m 100% in denial: “No way I’m diabetic, I’m an athlete. I train three hours a day. I’m in great shape. That’s not even possible. You must’ve done the test wrong.”

 

The Doc, amused at my protest, carries on with a list of foods I can no longer eat: “You need to avoid eating foods with a lot of sugar or carbs. Foods like Coke, cookies, candy, …”

 

I’m not listening, he’s out of his mind.

 

Me: “LALALALA.”

 

Him: “…bagels, muffins, pancakes, …”

 

Me: “Great, all the good food. Let me guess, don’t eat anything except vegetables. What a great life that’d be!”

 

Him: “…pretzels, chips, crackers…”

 

Me: “Doc is a total psycho. Is he going to name every food in the dictionary?”

 

Him: “…Cocoa Puffs, …”.

 

To which I burst out: “WHAT, NO COCOA PUFFS????”. “Hell no”. “Screw this”. “Go f*** yourself”. “Take that list and shove it up your a**”.

 

Cocoa Puffs are my favorite food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, afternoon snack, evening snack and mid-night snack. Especially breakfast…that chocolatey goodness – it’s WHY I wake up every morning!

 

Right then and there, my denial gives way to rage.

 

I feel steam coming out of the top of my head as I yell at anyone within earshot of me.

 

“*uck you Doc!”. “*uck you Nurse!”. “*uck you hospital TV!”.

 

I’m erupting with anger like the largest volcano eruption in history on steroids.

 

Soon, my rage gives way to begging:

 

“What if I cut candy, but keep Cocoa Puffs?”

 

“What if I cut candy AND bagels, but keep Cocoa Puffs?”

 

“I’ll even throw chips in there as well!”

 

“Pleaseeeee…”

 

“JUST LET ME KEEP COCOA PUFFS! ANYTHING TO KEEP COCOA PUFFS!”

 

Unfortunately, diabetes doesn’t negotiate. Neither does Doc: “Nope, no more Cocoa Puffs.”

 

So I become silent, hide under the covers in the hospital bed and wallow in sadness.

 

The Aftermath: Better For It

Now that I look back on my temper-tantrum, I find it amusing.

 

Yes I did fly all the way from California to Pennsylvania only to spend three days in a hospital and fly back without ever seeing UPENN (the reason why I went in the first place).

 

And I do have diabetes, which means I have to count carbs at every meal and

But once I got over the shock of diabetes and needles, I went on a tear and learned a ton about nutrition and healthy eating.

 

I learned that the highly processed carbs and empty calories in most cereal products, including my beloved Cocoa Puffs, are extremely unhealthy. They are the best way to get fat.

 

These processed carbs aren’t filling at all and instead induce overeating. A bowl of cereal won’t keep you full till lunch.

 

And the sugar, oh the sugar. Large, old, faceless cereal conglomerates like Kellogg’s and General Mills have used sugar to addict us to their cereals.

 

I can’t believe it. These con-man have us feeding our kids cereals like Cocoa Puffs for breakfast. These “kid cereals” are nothing more than candy in a bowl. Some contain as much as 80% sugar, more than many candies!

 

Instead, I learned that eating foods high in fiber, high in protein and low in processed carbs is the route to a healthier life. A life filled with satisfaction, not with hunger or sugar cravings.

 

Realizing that this new way of eating was beneficial not just for me (and other diabetics) but also for moms, dads, kids and all sorts of folks, I started a new company around the theme.

 

Low and behold, my company Catalina Crunch is making exactly what you’d expect – a low-carb, high-protein, high-fiber breakfast cereal that is chocolatey just like Cocoa Puffs.

I never thought I’d start a cereal company. But here I am, better for it.

Never give up on your childhood dreams – you never know where they’ll lead you!

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