Embracing Change to Beat Diabetes

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Change happens. It can be good or bad...it’s how you handle it that matters. Fourteen years ago, my life changed radically, when I learned that I had type 2 diabetes, a disease that affects more than 18 million Americans. That diagnosis gave me a second chance at life.

I had been dealing with tremendous stress at the time. My life was about working as much overtime as I could–racing off to the hospital to visit my mother, who was seriously ill with the complications of diabetes–then rushing home to spend time with my wife and three children. I was gaining weight. I wasn’t exercising. I didn’t know how to relax.

I knew something was wrong. My vision was blurry, I was constantly thirsty, I was exhausted all the time–classic diabetes symptoms–but I chalked it all up to tension and tried to ignore it.

Then, one day, my work partner noticed that I wasn’t looking well, so he and my wife convinced me to go to the doctor. My blood sugar was through the roof: over 500. (Normal blood sugar levels are under 120.)

You develop diabetes when your body can’t produce or properly use insulin. Glucose, or sugar, builds up in your blood instead of being converted into fuel for your cells. Over time, high blood sugar levels may damage your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart. Type 2 is by far the most common form of diabetes. While it occurs in people of all ages and races, some groups–including African–Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans–are at greater risk.

My first reaction when I heard the diagnosis was disbelief... then fear. I couldn’t believe I had the same disease that had recently taken my mother’s life. Then I remembered my great team of doctors and my wonderful family. My wife Linda became my biggest supporter, helping me change my diet by changing what the family ate. My children were young at the time and worried that I was going to suffer the same fate as their grandmother, but over the years, they came to realize that their dad was going to be around for a long time. They became my "police force"–warning me when I was eating something I shouldn’t be eating or skipping a day of exercise.

There are three important aspects to my treatment: my daily insulin regimen, exercise and diet. Things really turned around for me when I started focusing on exercising. Not only do I feel better every day, but I’ve finished seven Chicago Marathons!

Today, my prognosis is great and I’m very optimistic, even though I know diabetes is a progressive disease. I’m willing to work hard to stay healthy. I owe it to myself, my family and friends.

I think it’s important that people understand that diabetes is manageable. I did it. And if you have type 2 diabetes, you can do it, too.

That’s why I’m happy to be one of more than 40 people participating in the Meet the Face of Change™ exhibit, sponsored by Novo Nordisk’s portfolio of insulin products. It’s a national traveling photo exhibit showcasing people with type 2 diabetes who are embracing change as a way of living with their condition.

Being a part of Meet the Face of Change™ has also been a great motivator for me. I don’t want to let anyone down, so knowing that I’m being held up as an example of someone who has embraced change to stay in control of diabetes helps keep me on track.

Having diabetes can be scary. But it’s important for everyone to know that diabetes doesn’t have to be a debilitating disease. With some dedication, you can live a "normal" life. Diet is important, so you should make sure to count carbohydrates and distribute them throughout the day as a means for good management. The most important thing is not to fear change, but to embrace it. Diabetes is a progressive disease that requires constant change, so accepting change is the key to maintaining good control.

About the Author

Rudy Moyado, 51, a veteran of seven Chicago marathons, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1994. He knew he would have to change his lifestyle to manage his disease, so he followed his treatment regimen closely, changed his diet and began running to stay healthy. He lives with his wife, Linda, in Portage, Indiana.

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