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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ DIARY – by Matthew Stowell ]

DIARY – by Matthew Stowell

How Cyprus Cured My Sugar Problem

When I lived in New York I owned a bookstore, and sometimes when it was particularly busy and I had missed my regular lunch break - usually spent at the Greek taverna next door - I got a little cranky. The most innocent questions from my customers would prompt a wiseass answer. A really stupid question (“Do you sell bicycle tyres here?”) provoked a retort that people living outside that city might consider downright insulting.

In the restaurant if the waiter didn’t appear at my table within a reasonable time, say thirty seconds, I hunted him down in the kitchen. Then one day in the bookstore I threw out a customer because he was emitting excessive body odour, and I knew I had a serious problem. I was getting so curmudgeonly that I reminded myself (shudder) of my father.

Although there was a walk-in clinic on the next block, I decided to first research this symptom in the various medical books I stocked. Over the next few days, I found what I was looking for in the sections devoted to diabetes. Uh oh! My father had full-blown diabetes. Also, strangely, as I read more and more about these symptoms I seemed to develop each one in turn. If I didn’t eat on time, my vision blurred, I got searing headaches and my moods flew up and down like a teenage drama queen. Finally, I broke down and phoned my father, something an American male does only on birthdays and maybe Christmas, and after listening to his medical history decided that I must have inherited this discomfiting but at least not necessarily fatal disease.
My self-studies convinced me that since I had caught this problem at its outset I could control it through diet and exercise. I could avoid injecting myself several times a day with insulin, as my father had to do, and I could lead a more or less normal life.
The exercise part wouldn’t be so difficult. Instead of swimming three days a week I’d go to the pool every morning, and I’d travel more often to the Catskills for longer more exhausting hikes. The big problem would be the diet. All the things the books told me to avoid eating were the very things I loved to eat: bread, potatoes, rice, cheese, pastries and, the real heartbreaker, I would be limited to only one glass of wine a day.

Well, time to buckle down, I told myself, and I re-designed my eating routines. Unfortunately, other people had to re-design theirs. My wife felt guilty eating things I couldn’t eat so she suffered. And when we visited the daughters in Montreal there was much consternation in the house.

“What are we going to feed him? I was going to make pastichio, Mom, but ... Can he eat pasta? How are we going to cook lamb or souvla without potatoes?” and so on.
I would always say cook whatever you want, and I’ll just abstain from the parts that are verbotten. Of course this didn’t work; they are Cypriot after all, and they always went out of their way to accommodate.

This went on for about five years. As long as I exercised and watched my food intake, I was normal. If I fell off the wagon with a little pilaf or some fried potatoes or a second glass of wine, I very soon paid for it with blurry vision, headaches and crankiness (for which others had to pay).

Then I came to Cyprus. If the daughters in Canada were overwhelming in their efforts to work around my special food needs, you can imagine the lengths to which the family in Cyprus went in order to please. Long consultations by phone or in person were conducted before each lunch or dinner visit. They even called Montreal for advice.

It turned out that I had to see a doctor about something minor and during the interview I told him I had diabetes.

“Anything else?” he asked.

“Not that I know of.”

He frowned then informed me that for about 35 pounds he could give me a complete check-up, something I had admitted avoiding for many years. I was going to decline, but before I could open my mouth my wife told him yes. The same tests in the US would set me back at least $500, she reasoned. He fixed the minor problem then took all the blood he needed for the tests and told me I could phone for the results in a couple of days.

I was surprised when two days later he rang me up himself.

“Who told you you had diabetes!” he demanded, ready to report the charlatan to the authorities.

“Well, no one. I figured it out myself. I had all the symptoms. Why?”

“Because you don’t have it and the tests show you could never have had it. Somehow your mind convinced your body. But it’s impossible that you ever had a sugar problem.”

I can still hear the screams that echoed all the way from Montreal to Cyprus.

mattof7@hotmail.com


(Source: Cyprus Mail)



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