After several years of my doctor telling me I had pre-diabetic blood glucose levels, finally in 2016 he informed me that I was a diabetic patient. I decided to change that.
I did a lot of research on the internet trying to understand what my diagnosis meant. The root cause is blood sugar that is too high, and this comes primarily from a poor diet. It is very prevalent in Native American populations so I am genetically predisposed to this problem. But the primary cause is simply a poor diet.
So I started making changes in 2016 – trying to eat better and a bit more exercise. It wasn’t until after my second heart attack in February 2017 and then a very sobering meeting with my cardiologist in mid-April 2017 that I finally decided to get really serious about my diet and exercise. I started running with a vengeance, riding bicycles, working out at the YMCA every single day, and as of September 2017, swimming on a regular basis.
Each year the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic checks my eyes for early signs of diabetic retinopathy – one of the first signs of diabetes. My test results were negative until June 2017, when they came back with signs of the disease in my right eye. Diabetic retinopathy is basically small aneurysms and bleeding in the tiny blood vessels in the retina, caused by excess glucose – sugar – in the blood stream. The initial test is done by taking pictures of the retina and sending it off to someplace in Arizona for diagnosis. I didn’t get the results back until July, at which time I talked to my doctor and the ophthalmology department at the Indian Clinic. They scheduled me for a more detailed follow-up exam, which I went through today.
Keep in mind that by today my blood glucose A1C test has done down from 8.1 in 2016 to 5.9 in October 2017. I have run 490 miles and bicycled 1850 miles in the past 8 months and lost 45 lbs in a little over a year.
Luckily my detailed eye exam showed that all signs of diabetic retinopathy were gone! My ophthalmologist said she doesn’t see that very often. Usually once someone is diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy they are unable to reverse the disease and symptoms. It seems my improved diet and increased exercise has turned back my diabetes. My doctor even took me off all diabetes medication that I had been taking. She told me to keep up the good work and will see me next year!