Still Fighting After 18 Surgeries: Alfonzo's Story

This article was written exclusively for InformationAboutDiabetes.com by Alfonzo Steward, a type 1 diabetic who has battled the disease on very low income since the age of 16. In this article, Alfonzo describes his struggle, which includes living in a nursing home and surviving 18 surgeries.

I was 16 years old when I got diagnosed with diabetes. I had been using the bathroom a lot, drinking a lot of water, and eating anything that I could find. My A1c was 875.

I was taken to a children’s hospital, where I was given a big bag of insulin to bring down my A1c. I then had to do a week of classes. It seemed like nobody wanted to help me, but no one in my community really understood diabetes.

Just Trying to Survive

Being poor and having diabetes was not a good combination. I was eating off the streets, eating out of trash cans, eating from house to house – just trying to survive. I didn't have much growing up. And as the years went by, I tried to understand diabetes, but there wasn't much help around.

Diabetes really started to affect me when I got older. I was trying my best to eat well to keep it under control, but I didn't know how to cook because nobody ever taught me, so my food was always from fast food places. Then the big one hit: On my left foot, my baby toe had an infection in it, so I went to the doctor and had X-rays done. There was a spot on the bone, and when the doctors saw that they didn’t let me go anywhere. The infection turned out to be MRSA. My body was weak, and I needed to have surgery fast because I was dying.

The surgeons could not save my toe; that’s how bad it was. They told me that they had to do an amputation, so I didn’t have a choice. When I lost my toe, it took a lot of me – a 9-inch wound on my foot. After the surgery, I had to go to another hospital. My body was weak; I couldn’t hold anything. I was 27 years old and felt like a baby again. It was a rough time in my life, but I was hanging in there the best I could.

The hospital had a kick-out date for me, so the nurse said she would look for a place for me to go. I said I could just go home, and she said, “You have no home to go to.” I was shocked. They found a place for me – a nursing home. This place was very old, and it was very lonely in there. People didn’t have visitors, and they would yell all night long. It was pretty sad in there.

Still Fighting After 18 Surgeries

Over the last seven years, I've had 18 surgeries and lost bones in both of my feet. Thank God I can still walk. I’m still fighting diabetes!

Continue to fight your diabetes and never give up on yourself. No matter what, hang in there. I’m doing the best I can and hope my story will help you stay strong. God bless you.

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