In 1996, Dennis Coles, better known to his legions of fans as Ghostface Killah aka Tony Starks (Ironman), one of the original members of the legendary hip-hop super group, Wu Tang Clan, was set to release his debut Ironman when he started noticing that his body was changing. But he didn’t know why.
“I was pissing all day, losing weight, dry-mouthed and dizzy with blurred vision,” Ghost recalls. “I didn’t know what that sh*t was. The doctors in Staten Island didn’t detect it, so I went to Long Island and they came up with the diabetic sh*t. My sugar was mad high, like 500 and change, but it was a little relief to know what it was.”
A blood sugar over 500 is a medical emergency, especially if you aren’t already diagnosed with diabetes or under a doctor’s care. It’s an emergency, not because those very high blood sugars will lead to complications. They will, but it takes more than a few days of exposure to high blood sugars to cause complications.
A dangerously high blood sugar level increases your risk for diabetes-related ketoacidosis. When glucose circulates in your bloodstream and can’t get into your cells, your cells don’t get the energy they need. To compensate, your body begins to burn fat for fuel, producing acids called ketones.
These acids build up in your bloodstream and can poison your body when levels get too high. This happens when your body doesn’t have enough insulin and is more common with Type 1 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends checking your urine for ketones when your glucose is higher than 240 milligrams per deciliter.
Like many Americans who are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Ghost’s affliction was attributed to a poor diet and lack of exercise. His doctor prescribed insulin along with a healthier regiment. That meant putting down some of his favorite habits (marijuana) and many of his favorite snacks.
“When I cut them blunts out my legs came back,” explained Ghost. “I don’t drink that much and I try to avoid chocolate. It’s about discipline. You can quit the cigarettes and all that other sh*t. But as a diabetic you fiend for sweets. When you sitting at the crib staring at them Oreos, you gonna [mess] around and go in. You want those Fruity Pebbles and all that stuff. I had to learn how to just chill, exercise, drink protein shakes and monitor my sugar. Checking my sugar was something I…