Blindsided but Not Defeated by Diabetes: Steve's Incredible Story

This article was written exclusively for Information About Diabetes by Steve Patterson.

A diagnosis of diabetes is often delivered by a solemn-faced doctor after an examination. My moment of diagnosis was a little more dramatic: I woke up totally blind in one eye. With no clue what had happened overnight, I verged on panic and spent the entire day making the medical rounds, going from the ER to an ophthalmologist to a general practitioner. The initial conversation with each specialist was the same: “Are you diabetic?” to which I replied, “Not that I know of.”

I was one of those people who had gone undiagnosed, probably for years, and the ruptured blood vessels in my left eye and temporary loss of vision (caused, of course, by diabetic retinopathy) were my wake-up call. That day, once I was fully examined, my solemn-faced doctor had grim news for me: My blood pressure was extremely high, my A1C was 10.6, and my blood glucose was an off-the-charts 477.

Making Lifestyle Changes

So it was a rocky start to what could be a long, rocky road if I didn’t make some major changes – or so I was told. But how much change could I make? I exercised a moderate amount, ate very well, never smoked, and got plenty of sleep. On paper, I should have been able to live to 115.

Then, as I learned more about the disease, I figured out what I had to change. I found that, for me, white flour was actually more toxic and caused me to spike more than sugar itself, especially in the evening, so dinners became carb-free. Because of the one-two punch of diabetes and high blood pressure, I also cut salt. That hurt. But the toughest part for me was getting used to eating at regular intervals; I often let the day dictate when I would take a meal break, and now I had to reverse that pattern.

Then there was the stigma of becoming a “pill person.” In my mind, I had gotten old overnight. I used to swallow only a men’s multivitamin and a mineral supplement every morning. Now, I had to swallow six pills a day – and my pride.

Getting my Health - and my Vision - Back

All the learning and vigilance did pay off, though. In just four months, my A1C was cut in half, and I got my astronomical blood glucose levels down to goal. After two surgeries, my vision was restored to the eye that started this all.

I know my body now, and I follow my instinct and my doctors’ advice. I allow myself “something naughty” once a month if my numbers allow. I’m only two years a diabetic, and I don’t want another “rude awakening.”

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