Healthy Thursday: Diabetes Awareness


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November is Diabetes Awareness Month, so in that vein, I’ve been posting articles I’ve previously written. This week is an article I wrote on how it felt to be diabetic.

What I Want You to Know About My Diabetes: On the Mountain

Climbing that Mountain

Brick ONeil, Yahoo Contributor Network, previously Demand Studios.

It wasn’t until a year after my kidney transplant in 2004, that I was diagnosed with diabetes. Up until that time, I was skinny, since I was on dialysis; at 5 foot 9 inches and 135 pounds. After the transplant, I discovered “Hey, food really does taste good!” So, I ate and I ate. It wasn’t until I was over 200 pounds (hey, it was a good year of eating!) and being on immunosuppressants (so my body wouldn’t reject the kidney) that I discovered I had Type 2 diabetes.

Like millions of other diabetics, there was a false first start where I lost 30 pounds, then gained it back. I didn’t want to become a statistic, where I would have had to have a foot cut off or something worse– lose the new kidney to diabetes. So, I started a low-carb lifestyle meal plan in 2007, and started walking. Over the course of the next year, I lost 41 pounds and have kept that weight off for more than two years now. The change in me has been wonderful!

Only through eating right (low-carb is what works for me), exercising and managing my diabetes have I had the energy to do more things. One of the most enjoyable activities I can do now is to go hiking! There are wonderful mountains, trails and hikes to go on in the Seattle region of the United States. I was concerned about my blood sugar dropping during a hike or trail walk, using the Glucose Testing Meter, or having to stop and take medication in front of other people.

Many people throughout the world have various degrees and stages of diabetes. What I discovered is that people in general, don’t care if you have to stop to take care of yourself. In fact, they’ll respect you all the more for taking the time to ensure your own health. Hiking groups are made up of remarkable people who will stop or slow down for a member of the group.

When I go hiking, I make sure my blood glucose sugars are within normal limits beforehand, take my medication at the prescribed times and take simple sugars along in case my blood sugar levels drop due to exertion and exercise. What are simple sugars? They can be soda or small hard candies. If I’m going to be hiking for an extended period of time, I take along a turkey wrap (with a low-carb tortilla), cheese, leaf lettuce, tomato or whatever I have in the refrigerator. It works perfectly, and I can enjoy my hike!

So, don’t let diabetes rule your life, rule your diabetes instead.

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