FEATURE FRIDAY TIME!
This week we are featuring Bill from Langhorne, PA! He is 45 and has lived with Type 2 Diabetes for about ten years now. He tells me he is originally from a little town in Florida called New Smyrna Beach. Three years ago, he started his health-journey and he has been looking forward to seeing just what healthy looks like for him. Enjoy his story…
Do you have children? If so, how many and how does that affect your life as a diabetic?
I have two boys. Andrew, he is 11 years old. Adam, he is 6 and a half.
Sometimes my boys play a game when I take my blood sugar. They will try to guess what my number will be, before and after a meal. The one who guesses closest (without going over) wins. They shout out their guess (while the meter analyzes my blood) and then I tell them my number. Whoever wins usually screams “Yes!”. The other usually makes a face. Then, they tell me whether my numbers are praiseworthy or not because they know what’s a good range.
Please share the T2 diagnosis story.
I have Type 2 Diabetes, I was diagnosed in 2011 when I was 35 years old. In the months leading up to my diagnosis, I unexpectedly lost 50 pounds. Maybe, even more. Then, I noticed my eye sight was really bad. Everything was blurry. My mood was erratic and my body ached so bad when I slept. This went on for some time, until my wife asked me to go see the doctor. So, I did. He did a blood test and I didn’t hear back. I figured that no call meant everything’s good, right?
Turns out, my doctor didn’t have my new number. You see, I had replaced my landline with my new cellphone. So, he called my old number unsuccessfully for weeks. He finally mailed an urgent letter to my address, which I received during the weekend that Hurricane Irene hit the area. That Monday, I rushed to his office, where the doctor was overjoyed to see me. He took another blood test and explained he would have the lab results within hours. He asked me to go home and wait for his call. I did. Of course, on the way, I got a Wawa hoagie and pigged-out. Little did I realize how serious the situation really was! No sooner had I started eating, when I got his call.
He told me to go to the ER immediately!
I called my wife and she met me there. Once I checked-in, they did yet another blood test. As I waited for a doctor, a nurse began checking my vitals. Her first question to me was, “How long have you had diabetes?”. At first, I thought she had the wrong person. I responded, “oh, I don’t have diabetes”. She laughed hysterically at my response and said, “Well, you do now”. I felt my stomach drop. My wife and I sat shocked. I had diabetes! A moment later the doctor came in. He looked at me in surprise. “Oh wow! Based on your numbers, I thought there was a 700 pound man in here”. I was 175 pounds at the time. “What the heck have you been eating?” I told him just a Wawa hoagie for lunch. He laughed and explained, “No, not today. Your blood sugar is at a toxic level. It’s at 597. Your blood is like coffee creamer.”
They immediately put me on an insulin drip. I felt this tremendous wave of relief flowing through my body. It felt like cold water putting out a hot fire. I had been hurting for so long I hadn’t realized just how much pain I was really in.
I spent the night in the hospital until my blood sugar returned to a normal range. My A1C was over 12.
I was put on a regimen of metformin, insulin, and a night-time insulin as well as a few blood pressure and cholesterol medicines. I was on this diet of medicine for about seven years.
What were your initial thoughts after you were diagnosed with diabetes?
My initial thought after being diagnosed with T2 diabetes was that I was scared. My Mom had been diagnosed with it about five years prior to me but she struggled with keeping her sugars under control. So, I wasn’t sure what to do. It was frustrating. I struggled for years with high sugars.
Can you provide a diabetic tip/trick or something that has helped you manage life with diabetes?
About 3 years ago, I started on my health journey. After years of being scared with diabetes, I decided to take ownership of my health and focused in on my nutrition, exercise/movement, sleep quality and stress management.
A trick I have learned has been keeping track of these areas because I have found they play a pivotal part in how well I manage my blood sugar. When one of those components are off, I see a change in my blood sugar results. I’ve kept a journal logging those things. This journal has helped me to see trends so I could make improvements, especially during the pandemic. That has been huge help in managing my diabetes better. I also use a device to assist me in seeing these trends.
Share what the word thrive means to you and how it relates to diabetes!
Diabetes has taught me how to “thrive” by giving me the opportunity to learn about myself.
In the beginning, diabetes felt like a curse. I kept thinking, why is this happening to me? Between taking medicine and going to doctor appointments, I was so frustrated! I was scared about my future.
Now, I realize that diabetes has been a great teacher. It has provided a “creative- constraint” to measure what works to promote better health in my life. Food, sleep, stress and exercise are important components that affect my well-being. So, I work hard to have a healthy relationship with them all. In fact, because of diabetes, I am in the best shape of my life.
What do you wish someone would have told you earlier about diabetes?
Don’t stop believing in yourself. Find the support you need to be your best, most authentic self!
What words of encouragement or hope would you give to others living with diabetes?
I am someone who thrives on contemplating what’s possible. I ask myself “what if?” a lot! So, when I was diagnosed with diabetes, I immediately wondered, “Is it was possible to get off some of these meds?” When I asked my doctors, their answers were pretty bleak. They didn’t think it would ever be possible based on the severity of my insulin resistance. My wife described their answers as “taking the wind out of my sails”. I was devastated, I stayed in that state for years, and I can’t tell you how many times I cried myself to sleep feeling defeated and stuck.
Just over seven months ago, under the supervision of my doctor, I am no longer taking insulin or metformin. My A1C is currently at 5.9.
I say, believe in yourself and stay consistent. A journey of a thousand miles really does start with one step. You can’t move the mountain all at once but you can move it a little bit at a time, every day.
If there is anything else you would like to share, please write it below! Some ideas are diabetes and work, diabetes and exercise… or anything interesting about YOU!
I ran the Broad Street Run in October. It was pretty epic! I never thought I would ever be able to do anything like that. I am hoping to run more races in 2022.