This is the line of data from the Health Check I have just walked out of. This number is my glycosylated haemoglobin reading (HbA1c) and, although it might seem insignificant, it represents the goal that every person with diabetes chases their entire life. This will be just one of the dozens of lines of data handed to you at the end of your Health Check, on a piece of paper that you immediately fold and put in your pocket or purse. I used to be just like you, oblivious to the numbers and annoyed at the interruption to my day. But I have spent the last 6 years worrying about these numbers and what they meant for my future, as I headed into my doctor’s office.
It is February 12, 2021, Chinese New Year's Eve, and I have once again left my Health Check relieved at what this data shows: a completely normal blood sugar level, so normal that you would never believe that I have diabetes.
In actual fact, if you only looked at the average reading on this chart below, you would think that I was a teenager and not over half a hundred years old:
This didn’t happen to me by accident, and I am eager to tell everyone who is troubled and frightened by diabetes the secret behind these numbers. It is this secret that has allowed me not only to achieve normal blood sugar but also to avoid the other health problems that go hand in hand with diabetes.
More than 6 years ago, I was also one of that frightened group. At my Health Check in 2014, I was staring at some very different numbers. My glycosylated haemoglobin index was 10.4 and my fasting blood glucose was over 12! My doctor informed me that I was 100% diabetic. His words meant that for the rest of my life, I would be suffering from illness continuously, managing endless injections and medicine regimes.
There was a 40% chance that in the next ten years, I would be blind, need kidney dialysis, experience amputation, or have myocardial infarction and cerebral infarction. There was a 100% chance that my lifespan would be shortened by at least ten years, and that I would leave this world in the ICU without any dignity, but with a body riddled with illness, having spent all my life savings.
However, this tragic destiny never came to pass. Only three months after the diagnosis, fate pulled my life away from the abyss and onto a smooth and much more exciting path. Not only do I have good health but I also own my own business. Even the raging COVID-19 cannot knock me down.
I have experienced a miracle, the miracle of reversing diabetes. The miracle began a few months after this heart-breaking conversation with my doctor, and at every annual Health Check for the last 6 years, the miracle has been re-confirmed. On this night that means so much to Chinese people at home and abroad, I am longing to share the miracle with everyone who needs it
Its principle, its significance, and the incredible story behind it.
Because it is my story, and turning defeat into victory has been the most thought-provoking life experience.
The story really begins at the start of 2012. In that year, life was hard for me. When he made the diagnosis that changed my life, my doctor said that there are various reasons for the occurrence of diabetes, one of which is stress.
For me, the year 2012 is unforgettable. However, that year, the whole earth went crazy, hooked on the Mayan prophecy that humanity would be destroyed on December 21st.
This particular Mayan prophecy wasn’t really news. Hollywood had made the disaster blockbuster ”2012” a few years earlier. People would joke with each other, “Have you gotten your ticket for the Ark?” The rumour was that in the depths of an unknown snowy valley on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the governments of various countries had worked together to build a ship to save mankind. The catch? Tickets came with a $1billion price tag.
But I had never taken this so-called doomsday seriously. As an engineering graduate from Tsinghua University, I would not believe anything that lacked a scientific basis. To be honest, with hindsight, I was only concerned with my own personal gain and success at the time. What with this selfishness, and the stress I was dealing with I had no time or interest to focus on things that didn't directly concern me.
And personally, I was a little shy and awkward, so I rarely took part in these sorts of conversations.
I Graduated from Tsinghua University, a passionate young man who was tired of dealing with complicated relationships. I wanted to find somewhere in the world where I would be judged on my skills. I was in college in the 1980s and the fashion was to study abroad. We saw the materialism of the West and believed that it would be a better place to live. The truth was a little different. We were basing our assumptions on far too little information and almost no experience.
I wasn’t immune to this optimism. I believed that life in the West would be simpler, that people would say what they meant, that at work it was your ability and performance that mattered and that people were kind and gentle with each other. It would be completely different to the society I grew up in.
In my vision, the West was a perfect world. When I was still at University, I’d been the Captain of the debate team. I spent whole competitions criticizing Chinese-owned companies for being overstaffed, wasting time, and taking pride in the brain drain of talents to the West.
So, it was with this blind worship of the West and a small amount of realism that starting a new life would be hard, that I came to Canada as a skilled worker in 1997. What I could not have predicted was that I would be amongst thousands of skilled workers who did not get the life they had hoped for in this new country. The unemployment rate amongst skilled Chinese immigrants was as high as 30%; many families had broken up, and the divorce rate was higher than 60%! Having my beautiful fantasy shattered only added to my stress levels as I tried to navigate a different culture and different societal expectations.
Fortunately, my academic history was impressive enough to get me a space in the MBA program at UBC Business School. Then after graduation, I enjoyed a position with a pharmaceutical company, working on translation for their clinical trials. The company was sold and a few different jobs followed, including Vice President for China Operations at Terra Nostra Resources. Things were ticking away nicely and, although this wasn’t exactly the life I had expected, I thought that as long as I could make a living, I’d see out 2012 in safety. However, just at the beginning of the year, the HR department of my then employer sent me a layoff notice.
There was no reason, and they didn’t even need one. In China, we think foreign labor laws are sound, but not all is as it seems. Chinese labor laws and etiquette mean that when someone is laid off they will be given an official reason; maybe incompetence at work or the company needs to cut costs. I was used to a company giving you a way to save face with your family. But, as long as your employer pays you a little compensation then they can do what they like. In my case, the company didn’t even do that but managed to find a legal way around it.
I didn't receive a cent!
Standing in the HR offices, I mumbled something under my breath.
What did I want to say?
I wanted to say that I was separating from my wife and two children, and I was trying to save my family. If I lost my job now, I would definitely lose them at the same time.
I wanted to say I was 44. Where would I find another job in this rapidly changing marketplace?
I wanted to say that I didn’t have a huge pot of savings, and it would soon run out, so what was I going to do?
It’s interesting how our experiences affect our perspectives. Whenever I look back to that time, I tell myself, ”Don’t think you’re so great, don’t look down on anyone. Anyone can have a dark time.” Whenever I see people begging for money on the street, my heart goes out to them, because that could have been me.
It was February in Vancouver, which was still during the Lunar New Year. It wasn’t cold, about zero degrees Celsius. But when I packed my things and walked out under the gaze of my former colleagues, I couldn't control the trembling feeling, as if I was walking through a blizzard.
This was the beginning of my 2012. The world might not have been destroyed, but it felt as though my life was in ruins.
Because I was separated from my wife and children, no one knew that I was unemployed. I was 44, with gray hair, no source of income, little savings, and a bleak future.
It was not easy to find a job in Canada in 2012. There were too many Chinese here, either rich men who didn’t need to work at all or people who would gladly take any kind of job for low pay. In the face of such huge competition, my University education and MBA gave me no advantage when I applied for unskilled jobs.
I hadn’t expected it to be easy to find a job, but I hadn’t expected it to be so difficult. I encountered disappointment after disappointment for three months. In the beginning, there were at least interviews. Later, there was no hope at all.
There was an engineering research and development company with whom I had applied to work after completing my MBA. I had missed out on the job to a Vancouver native with a well-connected family. At the time it had frustrated me that people say China is full of nepotism. It seemed that it was the same everywhere.
After my job loss in 2012, this company was expanding and the HR department recommended me for an interview. My optimism was dashed, however, when the Head of the Department decided he wasn’t interested in me for the role. In the depths of my gloom, I could see him looming over me, telling me that I was destined to be unemployed forever.
I had a prestigious degree and had worked in the largest automobile company in China, but I just couldn't find a job that suited my professional background here in Canada. Many skilled immigrants have had similar experiences. This is the reason why many of my fellow immigrants a