Diabetes is NOT for Wimps: Victor Delgado
Hi, friends!! My name is Victor Manuel Delgado, who at the early age of 14 developed Type 1 diabetes. At that time (1974), not only was the technology not as advanced as it is today, but neither were medications for diabetes. How many of you remember using the U-40 insulin? Well, I sure do! Those were the years that in order to obtain a drop of blood, the nurse had to use a safety pin-looking object to obtain it; and depending on the experience and skill of the nurse, so was the level of pain felt. There were no personal blood glucose meters, and the idea of a portable electronic insulin machine was just a dream. With very little information available at the time for people having diabetes, I had to improvise quite often. Diets were rather limited. I remember that on my second visit to my diabetes doctor, he told me to eliminate rice and any form of bread from my daily eating (yeah, tell that to a teenager whose Caribbean diet greatly consists of rice!). I was so angry that, on my following visit, I decided to freely enjoy eating plenty of rice and 12 baby bananas. Although I wasn’t a rebellious person, I had to prove to the doctor that I was not “quietly going into the night.” Not only did I realize that eating that many bananas was not a bright idea, but at the same time, it was not the right attitude to maintain good numbers on my blood sugar.
I remember speaking with my kidney specialist on one occasion. During our discussion, I said how incredible it was that diabetes could affect my health in so many different areas. The doctor definitely agreed with me as she stated, “Diabetes is not for wimps!”
Thirty-six years have passed since I was diagnosed with diabetes. And through the years, I have developed several long-term complications. Yes, the damage that diabetes can cause to the body could be definitively sobering. Among them are retinopathy (changes in the blood supply to the eyes-which can lead to blindness), nephropathy (damage to the blood vessels in the kidneys-which can lead to kidney failure), neuropathy (nerve damage- which can lead to limb amputation or aneurisms), heart problems (damage to the vessels that carries blood to and from the heart-which can lead to heart attacks). The list can be rather extensive.
However, as a the famous quote attributed to Cicero, “Dum spiro spero,” (While I breath, I hope), yes, there is plenty of hope. Even though at the present I am experiencing several long term complications stemming from diabetes, I still have a sound inner faith that with God’s help and His guidance of great men and women of modern medicine, somehow, all will be well.
At the present, I am at the evaluating process of undergoing a kidney and pancreas transplant. It will not be a simple process, but it is one that I’ve been contemplating for some time. With God’s blessing, I am looking forward to a life with a good kidney and a pancreas, and the fact that I will not be a person with diabetes anymore.
So, if you find yourself traveling with me on the same boat, believe me when I say: there’s hope for you. Make the best effort to keep your diet, check your blood sugar and take your medications as prescribed. Consider the options accessible to you to better your health. It takes a lot of courage and dedication, so… let us enjoy the gift of life!!!
Victor was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and moved to the United States in 1981 to attend Tennessee Temple University along with his wife to be. He has recorded as a Christian Music Artist and is presently the Music and Sound Director for his church. He has two beautiful children, works at Olan Mills as a Certified Professional Photographer and Camera Technician, and enjoys playing his guitar in Christian, Pop Music, and Oldies bands. Victor has traveled into Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and South America on several mission trips, where he ministers to others through use of his bilingual skills. He also organized a group of volunteers to serve as civilian interpreters.
Diabetes is not a disease to be taken lightly, yet we know that people can live well with diabetes, often without complication, when it is well managed. We also know that early efforts to achieve good diabetes control can pay off in dividends during latter years of life. In addition, we now have diabetes self-management “tools” that make excellent diabetes control possible. . . Tools that were unavailable to people diagnosed with diabetes 20 and 30 years ago.
Long term damage occurs when blood glucose or “sugar” levels remain chronically elevated. When blood glucose levels are high the blood becomes thick and sticky, like syrup, and the excess glucose permanently attaches itself to the hemoglobin portion of your red blood cells. This causes the red blood cells to become stiff and rigid, rather then flexible and pliable so they can easily pass through the tiniest blood vessels of your body. This is turn causes damage to the inside walls of tiny blood vessels that feed the eyes, feet, and other distal areas of the body, and damage to nerve endings which are unable to receive the oxygen and nutrients they need. These damaged red blood cells also create rough places on the inside walls of major blood vessels that feed the heart and other important organs of the body, which allows plaque and cholesterol to build up and restrict blood flow.
A blood test called the Hemoglobin A1c or “A1C” is used to measure the amount of glucose or sugar that attaches to the red blood cells over their 3 to 4 month life span. Your A1C reading allows you to see how much excess blood glucose has been in your body over the past 90 day.
Attitude of Control
Learning to manage diabetes takes time and commitment, and there will be times when it is more difficult then others, but the attitude you choose will determine the real outcome. Roche, Accu-Chek once developed a series of advertisements with inspiring messages about life with diabetes, and the following lines have always stuck with me, as they speak to the heart of successful diabetes self-management:
I am in control of my body.
I am in charge of my life.
I am responsible for my actions.
I am aware of my limitations.
I am willing to set goals.
I am able to achieve them.
I am a person with diabetes.
But diabetes will not control me.
Thanks Victor and Paul, for your willingness to speak openly to both the challenging and inspiring moments of your journey with diabetes! While I breath, I hope. Cicero
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