Hometown: Hampstead, NC
Age: 65
Diagnosed at age 45
Type 2 diabetes

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 Visit the Voices of Diabetes page on Diabetic Connect for more in the series.

A shockwave ricocheted through Al’s life when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, “It was certainly a difficult diagnoses to accept,” he says. He was aware of the damage that diabetes could cause one’s body, but he knew very little about diabetes and practically nothing about managing his new condition.

Despite his fears, he knew that by maintaining a healthy lifestyle he could avoid complications. Education was his weapon against diabetes, “I learned a great deal from medical professionals, such as my endocrinologist, registered dietician, diabetic educators, books and articles written by MDs, websites like Diabetic Connect, and observing my own responses to diet, exercise and medication,” he says.

Al became involved with learning all he could about diabetes and at that point he took his first steps to adjusting and living a healthier lifestyle.

“A diagnoses with diabetes has caused me to be much more aware of how to maintain and stay healthy," Al says. "I believe I am healthier today, than I would have been had I not been diagnosed 20 years ago.”

There were plenty of bumps in the road for Al. After a few years, his blood glucose became difficult to control.

“What had been working, to successfully manage my blood glucose, was not working as well,” he says. “Eventually, with the guidance of my medical team, and some trial and error, I was able to manage my diabetes and blood glucose back to acceptable levels.”

He made adjustments to his diet, exercise, and also medication when necessary, and now his A1C has remained at 6.0 with little variation.

Increasing his exercise has been the toughest challenge. “For me, exercise is absolutely crucial to managing diabetes, and maintaining good health,” he says. “So, I began a strength training routine, and increased my aerobic exercise.”

For the first 33 years of marriage, his wife did all the cooking, even though she disliked it. Now Al’s taken over the kitchen and has started cooking for her: “I really enjoy my cooking, and so does my wife. As a matter of fact, I enjoy the healthy meals that I prepare so much that I plan on doing it for the next 34 years.”

Being diagnosed with diabetes didn’t make Al stronger, but it did make him smarter. He now exercises more often and lives a healthier lifestyle.

“For all I know, diabetes may have actually been a blessing of sorts," Al says. "I would probably be much more ignorant concerning my health in general if diabetes never came into my life."

He believes that it’s important for those living with diabetes to realize that it is possible to live a long and enjoyable life: “It’s really a matter of getting informed through reliable sources. When diabetes management feels as if it’s extremely difficult, or even impossible, start asking questions. A good life is within reach for the majority of us with diabetes.”

If you would like to connect with Al you can find him over at his profile, Jigsaw.

More Voices of Diabetes:
Gaining Strength Through Diabetes
No Excuses, No Matter What
What Doesn’t Kill You

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