Diabetic Connect's Voices of Diabetes series gives members of the diabetes community the opportunity to share their personal challenges, insights, and life experiences with a larger audience. We hope these stories inspire and encourage you to find your own voice as a diabetes advocate. If you would like to share your story, contact us at editorial@alliancehealth.com. Visit the Voices of Diabetes page on Diabetic Connect for more in the series

Hometown: Middlefield, Ct
Age: 54
Diagnosed: October 2013
Type 2

When Rich’s family moved to central Connecticut and next to a dairy delivery man two doors down, ice cream and milkshakes were in abundance. His family’s Italian heritage meant there was always plenty of food on the table waiting for him when he came home.

“I was always chubby, or as they said in those days, ‘husky,’” says Rich who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes several months ago. His mother spoiled him with love and homemade raviolis growing up. “My mother would say to me, ‘Eat Richie, you only had two bowls of raviolis,’ and so my beginnings as an overeater had begun around the age of seven.”

His teenage years where good to him, cars and girls took up most of his time. He spent more time with a trumpet, baseball, or a wrench in his hand than a knife and fork. “All looked well until married life. I’m not sure if buying that engagement ring changed my metabolism, but the pounds packed on like I was a food magnet,” he says.

After 12 to 15 years of bad eating habits, kids, stressful jobs and buying a house, the pounds starting adding up. “There are no excuses or blame. Just a series of events that got the best of me.” Rich then started golfing, biking, and playing volleyball, “I replaced my boredom with activities. It worked great for three or four years, and then I went back to the bad habits,” he says.

Everything changed when Rich noticed his legs were swollen, and he felt bloated. He topped the scales at 316 pounds and knew it was time to see a doctor, who confirmed he had type 2 diabetes. “My A1c was 7.2, and after the blame game, I put my efforts into fixing myself,” he says. “Deep down I wanted to blame someone else but I knew that would be foolish.”

Rich had to change his thinking when friends and family started treating him different. “I felt embarrassed for how I let myself go. Hearing their comments let me know I was in charge of my own destiny,” he says.

“I took classes at the hospital which taught me portion control, proper foods to eat, and stress management,” he says. Rich decided to educate himself and find ways to live with his new partner in life — diabetes.

Now Rich has an A1c of 6.1. He has revamped his exercise program and has lost 20 pounds. He says, “I must thank a few close friends online that continue to help me through some tough times and now I will be around for my grand-daughter who means the world to me.”

His advice for fellow diabetics is to find a purpose in life, “You may not have a grandchild or significant other. But you may have a pet or friend who would feel horrible if you were not there for them.”

“We all have a purpose, and if you don’t think you do, then remember why you are here on Diabetic Connect,” he says. “You are here to support your fellow diabetics with words of encouragement. I cannot thank the people enough who believe in me. The reason they were here for me is the reason I am here for each one of you.”

If you would like to connect with Rich you can find him over at his profile, Red-Sox-Rich.

For more in our Voices of Diabetes series:

Smarter Not Stronger
Gaining Strength Through Diabetes
What Doesn’t Kill You