Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
"Type 2 diabetes is a serious disease and should be taken seriously, but it's manageable and you don't have to let it lessen your quality of life."
In the summer of 1994, I was driving a truck down a familiar road and suddenly my vision went blurry. Fortunately, I knew where I was going without reading the road signs, but as soon as I returned home, I called a friend who is a nurse about my concerns. She suggested that I see an eye doctor as soon as possible. After running some eye tests the eye doctor told me to see my family doctor because I might have type 2 diabetes. I was surprised by this because no one in my family had ever been diagnosed with diabetes. I did indeed have type 2 diabetes, and I also had high blood pressure and marginally high cholesterol. My doctor wanted me to start losing some weight, but I wasn't ready to make the lifestyle changes that would be necessary to not only lose the weight, but to keep it off for the rest of my life.
I took medication for a year, which helped maintain normal blood sugar and blood pressure. But the more I learned about the long-term effects and complications of my disease, the more I wanted to make more changes in my life. I started to make some small, but important, lifestyle changes, such as only ordering one cheeseburger instead of three. I also started to walk for ten minutes a day. Each week I increased my walking by one minute. A year later I was walking 60 minutes a day, seven days a week and lost 35 pounds. I wanted to lose more weight, so I joined a weight-loss group. Four years after my diagnosis, I reached my final weight-loss goal of 139 pounds. During this time, my type 2 diabetes and other conditions improved to the point that my family doctor was able to take me off all medications.
If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, my advice is to commit yourself to making gradual changes and putting a healthy, realistic plan together. Also, join a support group not only for the knowledge and long-term success the group may help you achieve, but also because the group offers emotional support to help you stay motivated and stick to positive lifestyle changes.