John’s Story: ‘Didn’t Take Diabetes Seriously Until His Triple Bypass’

Often we don't take a diagnosis like diabetes seriously until we realize what an effect it can have on our whole life. At age 52, John Gray knew he had type 2 diabetes. He'd been diagnosed a few years before, but ignored it. That was until he had triple bypass surgery. Again, his doctor brought up his diabetes and noted that it would make John's heart problems worse. 

John still wasn't that concerned. However, his wife Carolyn was. She immediately took steps to help John get his diabetes under control. John’s physician referred him to the diabetes program at Miami Valley Hospital, where he and Carolyn went for education about the disease. They were surprised to find out that John could possibly control his type 2 diabetes strictly by lifestyle change. Fortunately, his blood sugar levels were in the 70s and 80s, so he could avoid taking medication.

The program at Miami Valley Hospital stresses exercise as a necessity to control diabetes. With diabetes patients, there are concerns about exercise aggravating other medical conditions. Diabetes patients who have eye issues, for instance, should stay away from exercises that increase pressure on their eyes, like weightlifting. John had no eye trouble, so he lifts weights, works out on an elliptical trainer and coaches the Aviator Soccer Club, a girls' select team. John has a fused knee and can't run or walk far, but he gets in all the exercise he needs for diabetes control.

A person with diabetes must always be conscious of their condition. John discovered that exercise — though vital to diabetes management — must be dealt with cautiously. He has recommended to others to check blood glucose levels before exercise, and to eat if levels are low since exercise will drop them lower. He said that things like loose-fitting socks and shoes are a necessity too, since circulation problems typically go with diabetes. As for eating, John simply watches his portion size and cuts back on carbs. It's been 10 years since he started the program, and he is maintaining his diabetes just fine.

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