Diabetes Dialogues

Meet Roger

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Roger lives with type 2 diabetes and resides in New Jersey.

June 11, 2019 is the day that changed my life forever. This is the day that I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. However, as most diabetics, my journey started years earlier. This is my story about my journey to better health.

I am 45 years old, married and have a 5-year-old daughter. Like most men my age I chose to ignore the warning signs over the years and lived my life like I didn’t have a care in the world.  My wife and I were married at an early age and were both successful in our careers. I would visit the doctor when I was sick. Every once in a while, he would order blood work to see how I was doing.

About 10 years ago is when I first started to notice my A1C was elevated. I started getting readings of 6.2-6.3. At age 35, I felt I was invincible. After all, diabetes is something you get when you’re old, right? Other than a simple blood test, I felt perfectly fine. At least that is what I continued to tell myself for the next nine years. My body was giving me signs that something was wrong, and I chose to ignore it. As long as my A1C stayed in the “prediabetic” range I felt that things were under control.

Five years ago, during my wife’s pregnancy, I was told my A1C was 6.7. Instead of charting a course to better health, I came up with an excuse. During my wife’s pregnancy she had cravings like most women. Her cravings just happened to be Oreo cookies! My job was to make sure that the house was always stocked with Oreos. I remember leaving the house at 10 p.m. to go on an Oreo run just in case she woke up in the middle of the night and needed her “fix.” Like any good husband I couldn’t just let her eat alone. I found myself indulging in eating Oreos with her. When I received the 6.7 A1C reading, I immediately said, “Well that’s because of the cookies! I will just stop eating them and everything will be fine.”

Over the next several years it seemed to work. My A1C stayed below 6.5, and even dropped to 5.8 for a period of time. That all started to change in the fall of 2018. I started to notice some subtle changes.

For instance, I started to notice I was having vision problems, especially when driving at night. I visited the eye doctor for the first time in my life and was prescribed progressive lenses. Everyone around me said welcome to the club. That’s what happens when you get old. I believed it.

Another sign I should have noticed was my excessive thirst. I found myself drinking 7-8 bottles of water a day which in turn would cause me to spend a lot of time in the bathroom. Like clockwork I would drink a bottle of water and 30 minutes later would literally run to the bathroom.

Finally, the third sign that something was wrong was extreme fatigue. All I wanted to do was come home from work and sleep. We have all been there, right? You come home from work, and your child is waiting patiently for you at the door. Every night my daughter would say, “Daddy can we go outside and play soccer? Please Daddy can we?” All I wanted to do was eat and go to bed. Little did I know that what I was eating was contributing to my condition.

It wasn’t until early spring of 2019 that I started to realize all these symptoms added up to the fact that something was wrong. I was having lunch with my cousin. Her husband had type 1 diabetes and was insulin dependent. I started telling her all the issues I had. She made me promise her that I would get myself checked out.

She gave me the name of a local endocrinologist and so I made an appointment. In preparation for the visit, I went and saw my family doctor who ordered a full blood workup. On June 11, 2019 is when my life changed forever. The nurse said, “Roger your fasting blood glucose is 283, and your A1C is 12.7. Doctor wants to see you immediately.” My response was this can’t be correct. With those numbers I should be dead.

That night I remember going to the grocery store alone and for an hour and a half having a nervous breakdown. It was at that moment I realized that everything I had come to like about my diet was killing me. Everything I went to buy was something I no longer could have, or at least that is what I thought.

In addition to metformin, I decided that night to put myself on a strict low carb diet. Diet along with exercise enabled me 3 months later to get my A1C back down to 6.3! My fasting glucose was 94, and my cholesterol went from 222 down to 95!

My doctor, when I started down this journey, asked me “Will you be able to sustain this?” I showed her a picture of my daughter and said “Do I have a choice?” I finally realized that if I want to see my daughter walk down the aisle when she grows up that I needed to change.

Will you join me on this journey? I plan on writing a couple more articles sharing the success I have had. My hope is that it will inspire those of you that find yourself in the same position I was to do something about it before it’s too late. Feel free to follow my journey on Facebook or email roger@rharejr.com.

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Parts of this article originally appeared in a series of articles for the Burlington County Times, Bucks County Courier Times, and The Intelligencer all sister owned newspapers in the Philadelphia region owned by Gatehouse Media (Now Gannett).