There was a room inside Detroit’s MGM Grand Casino Hotel filled with doctors.
They were big doctors and small doctors. There were doctors of every shape, color, and religion. They came to hear a lecture they thought would help their patients. The doctors were endocrinologists, and they came to listen to me speak.
Their primary job was to treat people with Type 2 diabetes. But one of the doctors said that the disease is so bad in the United States that they are spending more time amputating feet and legs than actually treating patients to get better.
They wanted to hear my story. I used to be a Type 2 diabetic, which probably contributed to the two strokes that fell me five years ago. I am no longer a Type 2 diabetic. And I do not tell you this to brag. Instead, I share this information to tell you that I hope you follow a path to good health.
There is a belief that when you develop diabetes that there is no turning back. One guy who was diagnosed with diabetes reached out to me tearfully and said: “At least I know how I’m going to die.”
That is not necessarily true. It is a disease you can eliminate. You can reverse the curse and live a long and healthy life.
Here is what made me get in the driver’s seat of diabetes.
About a third of our country has the disease, and the numbers are growing daily. Millions will die from complications of the disease or undergo amputation. I made up my mind that this was not the way I was going out.
The doctors at the MGM Grand wanted to know why I didn’t give up, disappear and let the disease slowly eat at me.
It was a cartoon that did the trick.
I took a diabetes class, and the lecturer passed out a cartoon of a bald guy driving through the countryside shopping for fruit and vegetables. The banner above the cartoon said: “You are in the driver’s seat.”
In other words, I could control my destiny. I could decide better health or death. I was the bald guy in the car driving through the countryside.
How doctors measure diabetes is by blood sugar in your body. The higher the number, the worse you are. Twice a year, my doctor takes my A1C blood sugar levels. If your levels are 5.7 to 6.0, you are considered pre-diabetic. If you are 6.0 or above, doctors consider you a person with type-2 diabetes.
When my journey began, my A1C was 10.8.
My numbers got out of control, and that was because I drank too much pop. Also, I did not exercise enough.
Thankfully, for the last three years, my A1C has been 5.3, and it’s because I changed my diet. And I exercise five days a week. I used to visit my diabetes with the Henry Ford Health System twice a year. About a year ago, she jokingly said: “You’re fired.”
“We don’t need to see each other anymore,” she said. “Unless you want to drop by and say hi.”
Starting my new journey.
One of the doctors shook my hand and said: “You are no longer diabetic. We know that can happen, but we don’t see it very often.”
I began my journey by shooting 26 units of insulin in my stomach each morning. Then doctors dropped the units to 12 and then six. One day my doctor said, “we are taking you off insulin because you are doing so well. But you’ve got to promise not to revert to your old ways.”
They put me on diabetes medication Metformin, which zapped my appetite. After a while, doctors took me off it. And I’ve been medication-free the last two years.
I grill a lot of fish and chicken. And I exercise.
So we are clear, I don’t do anything crazy.
I pump light weights two or three times a week, but mostly, I walk. I have daily routes of two, five, and 7.7 miles. And I throw on the headphones, get lost in the music, and enjoy the scenery of West Bloomfield, Detroit, and Walled Lake. My daily goal is to reach 10,000 steps, although I had a marathon on a trail that takes you through West Bloomfield. I hit my one-day record of 25,660 steps or 11.1 miles.
I gave up pop. And I had an addiction to Pepsi and Coke. After I gave up pop, I went through slight withdrawals.
That’s the story I told the doctors.
My advice is to grill, eat fruit and vegetables.
Hit the gym. Hit the streets and trails, and walkways.
And yes, you can have cheat meals and cheat days for your mental health. I drink beer, eat pastries and enjoy burgers and fries.
The key is you must do everything in moderation. You, too, can be in the driver’s seat.