The Boomer” is a column written for adults nearing retirement age and those already in their “golden years.” It will also promote reader interaction by posting e-mail responses and answering reader questions. E-mail your questions or topic ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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As the "Boomer " I have been writing articles relevant to baby boomers, trying to cover topics that relate specifically to the challenges faced by our generation.
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and I am a Type 2 diabetic. As someone who lives with the disease every day, I believe in raising awareness about it along with the importance of taking control of it.
Here’s my story:
It was the summer of 1996, I was 46 and had gone on a liquid diet for about two weeks to lose 20 pounds that I had put on over the last few years. It worked, but I noticed that over the next few months I was still losing weight, but no longer dieting!
I had always taken pride in the fact that I hadn’t seen a doctor in more than 25 years. My first mistake. I went to see my wife’s doctor for two visits; it took a couple of weeks of testing until he told me he was going to shoot me right between the eyes! His diagnosis: Type 2 diabetes.
I will admit, I didn’t know much about the disease, and was more familiar with juvenile diabetes—the type you get as a kid. I was pushing 50. The doctor then explained the diagnosis to me, what it meant and laid out my treatment options. He recommended I see an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in treating disorders of the endocrine system (such as diabetes) to confirm the diagnosis and start a treatment plan.
I left the doctor’s office that day confused and shaken, trying to understand how this could happen to me. I had always been physically active in high school, playing at least two sports a year and surfing. Up until recently, I had spent a lot of time in the gym. No one in my family had it…he had to be wrong, and the endocrinologist will straighten it all out.
Well, he confirmed the diagnosis! I had blood sugar readings in the 300s when it should have been around 70-120. The only thing going in my favor was he believed we had caught it early and with proper exercise and diet, I would only have to take a pill to get it under control. No promises though.
I was one of the lucky ones. I didn’t need an insulin injection to control my blood sugar. I did have to stick my fingers to draw blood for sugar testing. The pill brought my blood sugar down to acceptable levels in just a few weeks. Now the ball was in my court, and it was time for me to make some major lifestyle changes.
I joined the gym again and faithfully worked out at least three times a week for an hour. I began to watch what I ate and included fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and fish as part of my daily diet. I was able to stay on the sugar pill for more than 12 years because I religiously took my readings before and after meals. I learned as much as I could about foods and how they affected blood sugar.
But by late 2009, spikes in my blood sugar readings were back. The sugar pills were no longer keeping my blood sugar under control and my endocrinologist introduced me to a new insulin product, which has been working great and doesn’t involve a needle.
Treating Type 2 diabetes has come a long way. The blood glucose monitor I use gives accurate readings in as little as five seconds. Today I am in great physical shape and feel healthier than ever. Diabetes, although a chronic condition can be controlled and allow you a quality lifestyle as long as you educate yourself about the disease, watch your diet and exercise regularly.
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