Twelve years ago my father was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He just sent his oldest daughter to college. My mother was just diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and they just found out, at age 45, they were going to be expecting their fifth child. It was a mid-life crisis.
The doctor told my father his blood sugars were so high he needed to start insulin right away. That however, was not nearly as bad as finding out that he had to limit his Frosted Flakes to one cup at breakfast instead of three.
He quickly passed through the stages of grief. Not just about the diabetes, but the MS and the unplanned pregnancy as well. As many of us can relate, the denial, "how could this happen to me." The guilt of an unhealthy lifestyle, "the years of king-sized candy bars and 20-ounce regular sodas while sitting on the frozen Minnesota lakes waiting for fish to bite." Then the anger, "how could this happen to me, why me."
Fortunately, as a veteran at parenting, he remembered how much energy he had in his 20s when his four children were young. When he had a healthy body weight, played recreational softball and rode his bike. He was going to need that energy again at age 46 when my mom was going to deliver their fifth child.
In an effort to control his diabetes and "become young again" he thought back to the time in his life when he felt good. He started to walk. He limited those king-sized candy bars and switched to diet soda. He walked to his small portable fish house on the ice instead of driving. He traded in his riding lawn mower for a push mower. Fifty pounds later the doctor took away all his insulin and the diabetes pills. He took no medicine for diabetes. I guess you could say his diabetes went away. Not that his pancreas works any better than it did when he was diagnosed. His pancreas is and always will be compromised. But, as long as he can keep doing what he did then he can stay off insulin and other diabetes medications. He will be the first to admit, this is an every-day battle. A commitment he needs to make for himself, my mother and his entire family.
What if he would have made that commitment 15 years earlier? Never succumbing to king-sized anythings. Never giving in to the technology of riding lawn mowers and ice augers that have motors. By eating less and moving more he could have prevented diabetes.
Stop Diabetes from happening to you. The Diabetes Prevention Program is a large prevention study that showed weight loss and activity alone reduced the development of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. In fact, for people over 60 it reduced type 2 diabetes by 71 percent. Amazing.
In 2007 the estimated cost of diabetes was $174 billion. Instead of belaboring all of the negative things that can happen if you have diabetes let's focus on how you can Stop Diabetes. Join one of the Diabetes Educators at Trinity Regional Medical Center for our pre-diabetes class to help you learn how to Stop Diabetes. Call 574-6350 to get scheduled.
In celebration of National Diabetes Month Trinity Regional Medical Center's Healthy Living Department is hosting "A Weigh of Life with Jared" Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Bio-Tech Building at Iowa Central Community College. Jared Fogle, also known as Subway Jared, has found his "Weigh of Life" and will inspire you to find yours. Register online at www.trmc.org/jared or call 574-6187.
Make November your month to start a new "Weigh of Life" and commit to Stop Diabetes. Seventy-nine million Americans have pre-diabetes. That equates to nearly 10,000 people in Webster County. North central Iowa, let's start our new "Weigh of Life" today and - Stop Diabetes.
Not everyone gets blessed with an unplanned pregnancy to jump-start their new "Weigh of Life." Brianna, now 12, brings youth to my aging parents, joy to her four siblings and is the prize at the end of every five-hour trip to Minnesota for my children. Whether it is a tragedy or a blessing, don't wait for an event to motivate you to start. Plan to attend "A Weight of Life with Jared" on Nov. 15 and one of our "Stop Diabetes Classes" offered each month in the Diabetes Center. Ten thousand people in Webster County can Stop Diabetes. Will you be one of them?
Sarah Marsh is the Diabetes Center and Youth Wellness coordinator at Trinity Regional Medical Center.