Interview with Walt Crocker, Author of 'Diabetes! A Lifetime of Being Too Sweet'

Walt Crocker has been living with type 1 diabetes for more than 45 years.

Because he always felt fine, Walt got on with his life after being diagnosed as if he was – and ended up paying the price with poor health.

In hopes of inspiring others not only to get tested for diabetes but also to take the diagnosis seriously, Walt has shared his experiences in his fourth book, "Diabetes! A Lifetime of Being Too Sweet." On Amazon, the book is described as "a heartfelt and personal account of his 45 years of coping with this sneaky and sometimes deadly disease. The book also looks at the risk of complications and future hope of finding a cure."

We had the opportunity to ask Walt a few questions about his book.

What inspired you to write the book?

What inspired me to write the book is twofold: One was the interesting back-story I have. I grew up in a neighborhood that was literally stuck in time. We lived in a run down civil war-era house complete with a gravestone in the back yard and a coal furnace. Next door lived the city's own version of "The Sopranos." I got a lot of my clothes from hijacked trucks that pulled up in front of my house, and us kids helped to unload them and were rewarded with an item from the truck. And that was one of the milder activities they were engaged in. Also, two blocks away stood one of the city's worst high-rise housing projects. Try coping with diabetes as a child in the middle of all of that.

The second reason was that early on I didn't take care of myself that well and have suffered a lot of complications from the disease. The book graphically describes what I went through, so it's a warning to other diabetics so they don't have to.

What does the book offer to readers?

There are two parts to the book: The first is my personal story. The second part delves into the latest research, the growing diabetes epidemic, what we can do to stop it, as well as practical things I've learned from living with the disease for over 45 years.

I've also had a number of people tell me that after reading the book they got tested and found out they had diabetes. That's the most important reason I wrote the book: To show people just how serious the disease can be, but also that it doesn't have to be that way if you just exercise good control, and that is difficult at times but definitely achievable.

Diabetes is a very “sneaky” disease. You can have it for years without any real symptoms. I was diagnosed when I was fourteen and for the next twenty-five years it lurked deep in the shadows, hovering nearby and doing its dirty work diligently, silently chipping away at my health. I felt fine. I worked 60 hours a week managing a restaurant. On my day off, I had a small part-time landscaping business with one of the other managers. We had 15 stores to take care of. I even played racquetball a couple of times a week. I thought I was in good shape.

Then one day, after a long day of trimming bushes and cutting grass, it happened. Right after I took a shower, I noticed a little black spot or “floater” in my right eye. Throughout the day it slowly grew in size. I noticed that it was blood. I could see it pulse. It was sort of like taking an eye dropper and squirting red dye into a glass of water. I was hemorrhaging into my eye. It was like watching an artery in your arm squirt blood and knowing there was nothing you could do to stop it. I slowly lost all of my vision in my right eye.

How has the feedback from readers been?

The reviews and feedback have been very positive, and I have received a lot of support from the medical profession, especially at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis and also from the ADA and JDRF where I volunteer.

What have you gained from writing the book?

The most important thing I have gained personally is the realization that the book may have inspired someone to get tested and then changed their life for the better by coping with the disease. I said at the beginning that if even ONE person was diagnosed and saved from going through what I went through, then the book would be a success and well worth writing. Since several people have, it's done its job. The book also led me to volunteer for two great groups of wonderful and dedicated people: the ADA and the JDRF.

Any plans for future books?

This is my fourth book, so there is probably another one stuck in me somewhere; I just have to pry it out.

Click here to purchase "Diabetes! A Lifetime of Being Too Sweet" on Amazon.

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