Family, Friends and Diabetes
“My Grandma N had both legs amputated because of diabetes. I was told she was a strong Polish farm woman. I only knew my Grandma in a wheelchair.”
“My Grandma S would come up north to visit us. I remember her sitting on the couch giving herself insulin shots.
“Diabetes continues to affect the lives of many of my family members, through many generations, on both sides of my family. Most recently diagnosed is my adopted daughter.”
My family has a multi-generational history of diabetes, including my grandmother, mother, brother and nephew. Due to complications of diabetes, I lost a dear friend, the best man in my wedding, and my brother-in-law “way too early in their lives”. Two of my best man’s siblings also died young as a direct result of diabetes. As a trustee with Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation, I’ve learned about the hope for new treatments, and a cure, through the research the Foundation supports.
I was a paramedic and ambulance owner for 40 years, so I’ve seen up close how diabetes affects people. Additionally, 10 of my wife’s 11 aunts and uncles had diabetes, and 4 of her brothers and sisters have diabetes. My wife’s older brother is blind and on dialysis because of diabetes, as well as exposure to Agent Orange. In my work, I have also seen a 36-year-old patient who had both legs amputated and was blind due to diabetes. I’m a Lion and trustee with Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation and see the results of our work to expand awareness about diabetes, and of our support of research to develop treatments and work toward a cure.
Diabetes is part of my family history. I was only three when my grandfather died, so I do not remember much about him. However, I know he had one of his legs amputated due to his diabetes. Two of my Lions friends of mine have been essentially cured of Type 2 diabetes when they improved their diets and physical activity. One of the Lions started walking a lot and watching what he ate. His A1C number (a blood test that measures average blood sugar levels during the previous 3 months) went down significantly, and his health improved greatly. My other Lion friend was told by his doctor to lose weight and he did – 90 pounds! He was diabetic and took insulin every day. With his weight loss, he says feels better, is healthier and no long needs insulin injections. I am a trustee with Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation, and support research for treatments and a cure, and diabetes education and awareness.
I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2012, but my service to see the quality of life improve for people with diabetes through new treatments and see a cure developed began years before my diagnosis. As a former trustee, and current executive secretary, with Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation, and through my Lions partnerships and service, I have actively promoted Lions support of diabetes research, including islet cell transplantation as a cure for diabetes, and made countless presentations to promote diabetes awareness and education which supported the effort of other Lions to have our Foundation become a sponsored project by our entire Lions Multiple District. I’m proud of my club’s, Duluth Lions, substantial and ongoing support of the Foundation’s mission. As a Lions founder with the University of Minnesota’s Diabetes Institute for Immunology and Transplantation (now Schulze Diabetes Institute) I’ve seen many advancements in diabetes research and treatments and know we have great hope for a cure.
I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and was prescribed medication to control my glucose (blood sugar) levels. I changed my lifestyle and began exercising and my A1C (a blood test that measures average blood sugar levels during the previous 3 months) number dropped from 7.0 to 6.2. My family history includes an aunt who was a Type 1 diabetic and dependent on insulin. She eventually lost her eyesight, but continued her life’s work as an author and college professor for dependents of military children living in Japan during tours of service. As a Lion and trustee with Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation, I’m proud of Lions International’s STRIDES program that is devoted to increase awareness of decrease the prevalence of diabetes. I’m also active with Lions’ and our Foundation’s mission to improve the quality of life for people who live with diabetes and to support research to develop treatments and a cure. We serve together to increase awareness, provide education about diabetes.
My connection with diabetes began decades ago when I was working as a nurse aide in a hospital and a high school classmate was admitted, quite ill, with a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes. As a nurse aide, I measured patient glucose (blood sugar) levels using a dipstick with urine samples. Since my nurse aide days, I’ve had family members, relatives, friends and co-workers diagnosed with either pre-diabetes or diabetes. I have witnessed the devastating impact of diabetes as people I know have been limited in activity due to nerve damage (neuropathy); lost eyesight, experienced amputations, diabetic comas, seizures and heart issues and have had to start dialysis for the remainder of the lives. I’ve also seen the great results of healthy lifestyle choices – changes in food and drinks and increased exercise – in reversing diabetes and other health conditions. I am a Lion and trustee with Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation. I am committed to expanding education and awareness about diabetes, improving life for people with diabetes through development of new treatments and technology – and look forward to the day a cure is developed.