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This article was originally published in Diabetes Health in August, 2008.
Are you a scientific anomaly like me? Have you or someone you know reversed the complications associated with diabetes? Did you suffer microvascular and macrovascular damage during the “growing pains” of coming to terms with having no choice but to live your life with diabetes? Then, did you turn around and find love and hope, which made you change your life? And after changing it, did you find after several years that you were healing the damage that you had incurred by your own misguided hand?
Well, I did and I am looking for others! I want to encourage people to share their stories in the hope that we can generate sufficient anecdotal information that will demonstrate sufficient cause for a rigorous study to scientifically prove that we can reverse complications associated with diabetes!
I am proud to say that, despite my early years of virtually ignoring my diabetes and sustaining significant microvascular and macrovascular damage, thanks to an improved lifestyle over the past years I am seeing tremendous improvement of the neuropathy in my hands and feet, the retinopathy in my eyes and the nephrology of my kidneys. I’ll say it myself: Wow!
I’ll share some of my story and hope that others will identify with and show me that I am, indeed, not an anomaly.
Headed for an Early Death
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes nearly 30 years ago when I was eight. The reasons I chose the paths I did in taking and not taking care of myself, my disease and my life were as diverse and complicated as the causes. A defining moment for me was after awakening from a three-day ketoacidodic coma and hearing the doctors tell me and my parents that I would die by age 40 and by that time I would be blind, with an amputation and quite possibly on dialysis. Needless to say, I did not learn how to live, let alone live well with diabetes. Diabetes was as an intruder in my life and I vehemently despised being destined to such a short, disease-riddled life. So, I did what any 8 year old would do, I rebelled.
The rebellion lasted 20 years. My logic was simple: Most people seek out and do things that are good for them because they want to live long and healthy lives. But since I was going to die a young, horrible death anyway, I chose to search for things that were bad for me. I did them with gusto. Over the years, I picked up every thing from my first greatest taboo love, sugar, to filtered Camel cigarettes to my greatest, most agonizing nemesis, alcohol. Those vices all seemed par for my abbreviated course.
So, the first 20 years of my life with diabetes were spent acting as if I did not have it. I didn’t tell anyone I had it and I never, ever talked about it. I tried to keep my blood sugars high enough that I would never have a low, and high enough to never have to test. At the time, I saw no other reason to “test” my blood sugar except to see if I was actually experiencing another one of those scary lows. So, I always kept my blood sugar high. This made me feel even more a failure every time I tested, hence I didn’t. At one point I had an HBA1c of over 18%.
My Turnaround Allows a Comeback
Today, I am so happy and proud to say that these things are no longer true in my life and that I have come to embrace myself, my life and even my diabetes. I met my life partner 18 years ago and married him four years later. His unconditional love and support made wanting to live a good long life a brand-new reality. I had never wanted to live a long, good, happy life. I knew it was impossible, and yet now I had found hope.
I began to change, slowly. I had learned over the years that any action that needs to be done for the rest of my life must first fit into it. I began to look at myself, my life, and my diabetes in entirely new and nurturing ways. I had finally made a change in my life and sustained it. It felt good. Actually, it felt incredible! So, I chose to make another change, and then another. These changes soon added up and I am now happily living the benefits of my concerted efforts.
With improving my blood sugars, blood lipids and blood pressure, came significant and considerable benefits. My kidney function went from full-blown clinical albumineria to normal function. My feet, which used to be virtual icebergs, now maintain healthy warmth. I had sustained proliferative retinopathy and in 1997 had laser surgery on my eyes to prevent me from progressing to blindness. My ophthalmologist has told me for the past consecutive six years that not only are my eyes not getting worse, they are healing and improving.
I could hardly believe what was happening. I was healing? I went to speak with my endocrinologist, who now calls me “The Diabetes Poster Child.” I asked him how on earth I could have not known that we can reverse diabetes complications. He said, in a nutshell, because not enough people have done what I have done with my life, and since it could not be proven scientifically he could not tell his patients that it is a possibility. I responded that if no one hears it is possible, then no one will know to try.
He continued, telling me there have been cases where they have taken, for example, a kidney from a diabetes donor and placed it in a person without diabetes only to find over time that the organ has returned to normal function. The point is with the right environment the human body can and will heal itself. Now, let’s prove it!
An Appeal for Your Help
I want to hear from people who have had experiences similar to mine and can help support this anecdotal success. If I’m correct, we will have sufficient anecdotal proof to warrant a full-blown, rigorous scientific study that will prove without a doubt that it is never to late to turn it around! Just imagine the lives that will benefit by being shown a way not just live, but a way to live well with diabetes!
I look forward to hearing from you!
Founder of the Diabetes Wellness Center
Please post your comments below.
Jul 31, 2008
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.