There were big docs and little docs. Black docs and white docs. Asian docs and Indian docs. Men docs and women docs.
There were a room full of doctors. About 100 in all. And then there was me.
They spoke a language I did not understand. They were doctors who treated extreme cases of Type 2 diabetes. I was not there to learn from them. They were stuffed inside a ball room at the Detroit MGM Hotel to listen to me talk.
My story had gotten around their circles. I was a guy who was a Type 2 diabetic who got rid of the disease. How did I do it?
Type 2 diabetes can become a very serious disease. According to the American Diabetes Association more than 270,000 people died of diabetes in 2017. That’s more people than Covid-19 has claimed in the United States. In a few years one third of the United States will have the disease because of sitting on the couch and making poor food choices.
Once you get it, that’s it people are told. This is the way you will die eventually. These doctors wanted to know how I did it. They said when they first diagnose someone with Type 2 diabetes that half of their patients do not return. They see no way to fight the disease and give up.
As a last resort to save the patient these doctors perform amputations. They cut off legs and feet. It is a procedure they no longer want to perform. How do they get patients to return so they can be treated in other ways without amputation?
Diabetes is measured by the sugar in your blood. Or A1C. If your A1C is 5.8 or 5.9 you are pre diabetic. My A1C came in at 10.8. That’s bad. A friend of mine had an A1C of 14.0 and sometimes blacked out.
I changed my lifestyle and during my last exam my A1C checked in at 5.2
“You know that you are no longer diabetic,” one of the doctors told me.
How did I do it? How can they get their patients to fight the disease rather than give up?
In front of all these important people I held up a cartoon. It showed a bald-headed man driving through the country side buying fruits and vegetables. And the caption read “You are in the driver’s seat to good health.”
I took that cartoon to heart. I had control of this. My doctors would show me the path to good health, but I needed to take some responsibility also. I treated it like a game. I would set weekly goals with the ultimate one to be diabetes free.
I’d never heard of anybody doing it. But I was going to be the one.
I cut down on carbs, ate more fish, chicken and gave up pop.
More importantly I exercised for at least an hour four to five times a week and drank lots of water whether I was thirsty or not. One doctor told me that an hour of exercise was like taking a shot of insulin. Water is a medicine nobody knows about. During this pandemic I walk and walk and walk. I walk twice a day for at least two miles. Twice a week I do my big walks around Union Lake — a journey of 6.5 miles.
I have music blasting in my head phones to allow the time to pass more quickly.
My journey began by doctors prescribing 20 units of insulin. So every morning after breakfast I grabbed a needle and shot myself in the stomach or leg. I was assigned to Dr. Mahalakshmi Honasoge of the endocrinology department at Henry Ford Health System in Novi who advised me through my journey.
We met every six months. On my second visit after being diagnosed with Type 2 she reduced my insulin to eight units. Then we reduced it to six units six months later. Despite the reduction in units I was taking too much insulin and got sick because of low blood sugar.
Six months after that she asked a lot of questions. She wanted to know what I was eating, how often I was exercising. We spoke for nearly an hour.
“We are going to take you off insulin because you are doing so well,” she said.
She prescribed Metformin. I don’t know what this stuff does, but I completely lost my appetite. I had no interest in food. After complaining of the side affects I was placed on Januvia.
“Talk to your endocrinologist first, but I think we can take you off Januvia,” said my primary care physician Lisa Elconin.
My last visit with Dr. Honasage came during the pandemic. So we had a virtual visit. She asked the same questions. Before I logged off she looked into the camera and said: “You don’t need to visit me any longer. I think we are done here. You can come by just to visit if you want. But we are done.”
She wanted to see if I could manage my A1C for three years. I did. My A1C hovered between 4.6 and 5.4 for the most part during the three years.
I was fired. And I was happy about it.Find Terry Foster Podcast here: