Wednesday, June 03, 2015

On Books and BS

This blog isn’t about the usual BS that my students might associate with my books – instead it is about the kind that affects my book production: blood sugar.

I have been coping with Type II diabetes since the turn of the millennium, and my control of my blood sugar levels has been sketchy at times.  When I was first diagnosed I became well-versed in typical diabetes-related problems (kidney trouble, heart trouble, eye trouble, infections and amputations).  However, during one period in which my blood sugar was out of control I discovered another issue while reading the literature at my specialist’s office.  Apparently there are a host of cognitive deficits that can occur with high blood sugar levels too.

More recently I encountered this problem first hand.  During the fall of 2013 and the winter of 2014 I was having a great deal of trouble concentrating.  I was working with an undergraduate student on an artificial neural networks and music project that required interpreting the internal structure of trained networks.  I was having a lot of difficulty making any sense of any of these networks.

Not coincidentally – although I did not realize this until later – my blood sugar had entered a phase that required stronger control.  At that time I used oral medications and an evening injection of slow acting insulin.  A visit to my specialist resulted in a new regime of pre-meal injections of fast acting insulin.  I started this treatment in the first week of April 2014.

What astonished me is that within a week it seemed as if my brain suddenly turned on.  I found that my ability to concentrate was stronger and my thinking was clearer.  On April 9, 2014 I took a look at the connection weights of a simple network that was resisting analysis, and immediately saw how the network worked.  I couldn’t believe it.  I started writing the interpretation up on April 11, in what became the first chapter of a new book.  For about a year up to that point I had a lot of difficulty writing.  After starting the new insulin regime I was working and writing daily, and a week ago submitted a new book manuscript comprised of over 300 pages, 150 figures, 50 tables, and a whole bunch of new simulation results and network interpretations.  I don’t think that this would have happened without the change in my treatment.

Of course this evidence is totally anecdotal, but I now have a lot more respect for how my blood sugar control can affect what I’m paid to do (i.e. think).  I’ll apologize in advance to my students, who will likely find more of that other BS in my new book when it comes out! I have one kind of BS under control, but have never figured out how to control the other

No comments:

Post a Comment