Andy Mandell, Executive Director
There was no one around telling him that just because you work out, exercise and feel good that you can still become sick. No one, that is, except fate! Little by little his body was giving him some signs of something going wrong. "Okay, I’m about to have my 40th birthday. I’ll have a complete physical and find out what is going wrong." He tested positive for diabetes.
As he would find out in the years to come, his was not an unusual story. One of the scariest aspects of diabetes is that, without knowledge of the warning signs of diabetes and without getting tested it can go unnoticed, undetected for years. All the while the disease is ravaging the body, little by little. Progressing slowly, until one day, symptoms appear. By this time there is already damage done. And if left unchecked, the damage may lead to serious injury to the body such as stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, amputation, blindness and even death. It’s difficult to think of these things happening to you when you are working-out, running, and feeling strong.
His doctor put him on some diabetes medication, and after a while they seemed to help, but it wasn't long before he had to take stronger doses. Andy faithfully took his medications daily. He knew that as long as he took his pills, he didn’t have to worry too much about other factors in his life. He ate pretty much what he wished, when he wished. If he started feeling a little poorly, he’d take a pill. His exercise regimen dropped off a little, and if he started feeling bad, he’d take a pill. His life went on like this for years, under the premise that as long as he took his oral medications he would be all right. One morning, however, he woke from his sleep to find that his world was not all right. He ached all over and could hardly muster the strength to get out of bed to get to a doctor.
What Andy was about to find out would change his life forever. During the course of his oral medication phase of treatment, his diabetes continued to progress. The disease was to grow stronger and Andy was to grow weaker. He had developed severe diabetic neuropathy; a disease of the nervous system. The nerve damage characterizes itself as numbing, tingling, and/or producing excruciating pain. In Andy’s case the pain got so severe he couldn’t bear to have anything touch his skin. Wearing clothes was painful and difficult. He had to sleep on top of the covers, and then only at the point of exhaustion. He spent nearly 20 hours a day in bed, lost 75 pounds, and had only limited feeling in his feet and legs. We can only imagine the anguish he felt. An athlete, a runner who can barely feel his own feet and legs. A competitor who can’t get out of bed without aid. And to lie there, knowing your condition is getting worse, not better.
Never a quitter, Andy knew that immediate corrective treatment was a must. Without it he was at extremely high risk of his internal organs shutting down, arteries and blood vessels bursting, heart attack, stroke, blindness, and a plethora of other complications setting in. His direction became clear. Through aggressive and very deliberate self-management of his condition, coupled with sound medical advice from diabetes specialists, he began to rebound from his debilitated state. Exercising through the pain to regain his physical conditioning, carefully monitoring every bite of food he ate, vigorous testing of his blood glucose levels as many as twelve times a day along with taking the dreaded insulin injections (a combination of two different types of insulin a minimum of four times a day, and as many as eight times a day) he recovered. Not without complications, however. As a result of the severity of his neuropathy, he has had to learn to walk and balance again. Also as a result of his diabetes he has developed diabetic retinopathy in both eyes, a disease of the small blood vessels of the retina of the eye. As retinopathy progresses it can lead from blurred vision to total blindness. Earlier this year Andy underwent corrective surgery on both eyes. It is a tedious procedure to say the least. The result was successful! He remains under the watchful care of an ophthalmologist.
worse than finding out that you have diabetes?”
Why do we need Mr. Diabetes®?
Although the diabetic community in this country is 20 million strong, there is no one source to turn to for valid, easy to understand information. It is a fragmented community made up of a diabetic, his or her family, and maybe a doctor. There should be strength in numbers, especially when the number is 20 million, but there is no such strength in the diabetic community.
Mr. Diabetes® is changing all that. He is giving diabetes a face, a body and a voice. He is not a book or a lecture, not some statistic or bar graph, but a real person. A very real person with a very real disease and a very real message. Soon, he will be taking his message ‘to the streets.’
Why Andy Mandell as Mr. Diabetes®?
His message is a simple one:
If you are diabetic then you, and only you, can control the severity of the disease. Consult with a diabetes specialist (diabetologist or endocrinologist). Start on a supervised medical and nutritional therapy program and include an individualized physical fitness program into your lifestyle. Simply put, if you see your doctor, eat right, take your medication, and exercise you are taking a proactive approach to controlling your diabetes. You can and must do this!
Why Now? Diabetes cases in the United States have increased by one-third in the past eight years, even though the disease is largely preventable. Not only are more Americans being diagnosed with diabetes each year, but they are getting it at a younger age. We have a silent epidemic on our hands.
More diabetes cases means more blindness, more kidney failure, more cardiovascular disease, stroke, amputation, nerve damage, and death. Couple this with the fact that our health care system is already strained from the existing cases of diabetes, that adequate information and care are already at a premium, and that for every new diagnosed case of diabetes another is out there without a clue they have the disease. Then consider that what is called “adult onset” diabetes, or Type 2 diabetes which used to be common in the 45 and older population (hence the name adult onset), is now common in 30 year olds, and even teenagers are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
The cause? One major factor is obesity. With our high-calorie diets and sedentary lifestyles, Americans are growing fatter and putting more stress on their bodies. Over the past eight years, the percentage of overweight Americans increased from 44 percent to 54 percent, an 11 percent increase, while the occurrence of diabetes rose from 4.9 percent to 6.5 percent – a 33 percent increase. If you got 33 percent more colds each year, or suffered 33 percent more injuries at work, or lost 33 percent of your vision you would darn well do something about it!
Take a minute, take the test, take control of your life! Concentrate on eating healthier, get some exercise (take a walk each day, ride a bike, take the stairs instead of the elevator), and be aware of the warning signs of diabetes.
Change, Or Even Help Save The Lives Of Millions Of People,
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