Buffed Into Health

A Personal Story

| Jan 17, 2007

It was supposed to be a simple test: I’d pee in a cup, listen to my doctor’s suggestions to feel better, and go home with a prescription. Except on that day, it wasn’t that simple. I sat in the exam room and waited for my doctor to return. When he finally did and started to talk, saying that he suspected diabetes, I remember seeing my mom’s face fall.

He told us to immediately head to the hospital and that I would be there for a while.

And I was—two weeks to be exact. In those two weeks, I aged twenty years. At fourteen years old, I learned that I would only be allowed to drink diet soda, that I would have to take shots to stay alive, and that I would have to explain a disease to my friends that I knew nothing about.

For a long time, I lived life as though I didn’t have the disease. I drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes, experimented with drugs, and went to as many parties as I could. It was more important for me to have a good time, like any other kid, than to take care of the diabetes. So I never did. My sugars fluctuated constantly between low and extremely high, and I didn’t care. To make matters worse, I was on a pre-mixed (70/30) insulin that kicked in every two hours. My life was supposed to be regimented, but my lifestyle didn’t allow it.

It was not until I enrolled in a strength training class in high school that my outlook on the disease began to change. Through weight lifting, I had more confidence. My sugars were more level and, for once, I was pointed in the direction to a healthier life.

It’s twelve years and over 12,000 insulin shots later, and I have never felt better. My continued passion for exercise has led to a career in fitness. As a personal trainer, I get to have the best of both worlds. I maintain a healthy lifestyle while showing my clients how exercise can help them with their personal struggles.

My efforts to spread my enthusiasm about the importance of fitness extend further than the work force. I have mentored diabetic kids on how to live a “normal” life with this disease. I am also working with two local endocrinologists to form a peer support group for diabetic students on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus. And through it all, the best compliments I get are from strangers. I am often approached and asked for advice on how they can begin to transform their lives into healthier ones, diabetic or not.

My story is just another diabetic’s story. We each have our own. I write to you today not for recognition, but to spread the encouragement, enthusiasm, and importance of exercise. There is something out there that can make you feel better, and it can be as simple as stepping on a treadmill, picking up weights, or taking a walk around the block. I hope that through my story, other diabetics can find the success that I have found.

Andy Bell
Columbia, Missouri

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Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Exercise, Insulin, Personal Stories, Type 1 Issues

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