I have type 2 diabetes. I found out that I had it back in 1989, when I was 55. My vision was blurry and I discovered when I went to the doctor that my blood sugar was 563. I was hospitalized for two weeks. During my stay, they brought my blood sugar down and taught me about diabetes.
I initially started taking medication, but was able to lose quite a bit of weight so eventually my doctor took me off of the medication. Unfortunately, I put the weight back on over the years. Because of this, my doctor referred me to an endocrinologist at the University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology. That was about four years ago.
The first time I visited UMMC, I found out about the Fit and Healthy Weight Management Program. I immediately joined the group, which holds weekly sessions. After the 12-week sessions were over, everyone in the group was allowed to go back and take it again for half the price, so I retook it. I really learned a lot in that class.
Staying on the diet plan isn't easy. I've had problems in the past staying on the diet and I still have problems, but I also go to Weight Watchers now. Nancy Glaser, who is a dietitian at UMMC, is familiar with Weight Watchers and works with me. Every two weeks, I fax her information about everything I eat -- all three meals of every day.
I also go to a support group at UMMC, and occasionally I drop in on the Fit and Healthy classes to meet the new people. I wasn't following the diet plan so well in the beginning, but being able to talk to other people who understand what you are experiencing is important.
Along with the support group, I go to an exercise class three nights a week at the VA Medical Center. I travel a lot and visit my alma mater Virginia Tech regularly. Exercise and being active really help me stay on track in the other areas. I am now about 30 pounds lighter than I was a year ago and I'm feeling good.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes back in 1974. I was 14 years old. It was obvious that something was wrong because I'd lost a lot of weight. At one point, I went down to 80 pounds. I'd eat a meal and two hours later I'd be hungry and eating again. After tests confirmed that I had diabetes, I was hospitalized for a week.
They did a lot of tests on me while I was in the hospital. They also gave me a booklet on diabetes that they went over with me every day. They had me practicing the proper way to give insulin shots on oranges. I was a quick learner. I have two brothers who also have diabetes.
I learned about the University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology from my internist. My A1c levels were a little high and my internist suggested going to some of UMMC's educational and self-care classes.
I really like the support group because I like how open you can be. It is easy to relate to the people there. They all have the same problems and complications that you have. I've been going there for a while and I bring my friends with me sometimes. In fact, I've brought up to three friends with me at one time. They've all thanked me for introducing them to the group.
Sometimes representatives from companies that make equipment and drugs for people with diabetes visit the support group. They give us information that helps us stay up-to-date about advancements in the field.
Staying on top of diabetes and managing it well isn't easy, but I still have all of my limbs and vision in both of my eyes. UMMC has helped me a lot.
I discovered I had diabetes nine years ago. It was in January. I had a doctor's appointment scheduled over the New Year's Eve weekend and my vision was blurry. They ran a test on me and found out that my blood sugar was 609.
They told me that they might have to keep me at the hospital overnight, but they ended up keeping me for nearly a week. There was a diabetes educator at the hospital that would come up to my room and talk to me about managing my diabetes.
They put me on insulin, but I only stayed on it for about a year and a half. I didn't find out about the University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology, however, until about four years ago. I read about it on a Medical Center employee news flier. That was around the time that they were starting up the Fit and Healthy Program. In fact, I was in one of the first classes.
I really enjoyed the classes. When I started, my A1c was 11. After 12 weeks, it dropped down to 7. Whenever it goes up, [diabetes educator] Michelle Sheldon-Rubio gets on me. In class, we motivated each other.
I've learned a lot of things from the educational classes, like how to eat for one thing. It also finally started to really register with me how important exercise is. I bought a bike when I was in the health and fitness class and I try to do 45 minutes of cardio three times a week. I've been burning a lot more calories lately. I'm trying to work up to four days a week, which is the equivalent of fasting one day a week.
Another thing I've learned about is discipline. I was disciplined over the holidays even though I love good food and sometimes I like a lot of it. Instead of eating a huge meal and lying down like I used to do in the past, I'll drink a can of a supplement.
I went to a class recently where a medical company representative talked to us about a new device with software. It tells you what your highs and lows are over 14-day and 30-day intervals. By seeing the digital display, it encourages you to try to lower your numbers over the long term. If you are just sticking your finger everyday, you don't get the whole picture and can't see where you have come from.
I've already recommended the UMMC to a couple of people. That is how much I believe in what they do. A lot of what it takes to successfully manage diabetes, you have to do for yourself. If you aren't a person who can motivate yourself, it behooves you to go to the support group and classes. You have to realize that if you fall off of the wagon, you don't stay off. I've fallen off in the past, but I'm back on now and I plan to stay on this time.