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My Doctor Told Me I Just Had A Little Bit Of Sugar

Marc H. Blatstein

I've had Type 1 or Juvenile diabetes since 1961, I was 11 years old then. Upon diagnosis I was told a litany of do's and don'ts. I was told no more cake, candy or ice cream, to be wary of too much exercise and that diabetes would shorten my life span if I was a "bad diabetic."

Growing up with diabetes made me wary of living life to it's fullest, but on the other hand I said, "What the hell" and lived every day flat out!

A lot has changed since then, but much more hasn't.

Since 1986 I have been an active member, board member and now the immediate past president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. My mission in the last 14 years with the foundation has been to raise awareness, educate and help clear up the myths about diabetes. I have done that through presentations, radio talk shows and some TV programs.

Once on a radio show a patient called in to ask me a question. That question was, "My doctor told me I had a little bit of sugar!" At first I chuckled and then I told my female caller that was like being told you were a little bit pregnant!

My next caller was an irate physician. He proceeded to tell me that the statement "a little bit of sugar" was proper in its definition. We proceeded to argue over the airwaves and I finally hit my point home.

Since 1986 I have followed alternative or integrative medicine, quite to the chagrin of some of my conventional physicians. Conventional wisdom has told me that the herbs, vitamins and supplements I take, through the guidance of other health care professionals, is hocus pocus or nonsense. I said to one of my doctors the following: Until 3 years ago I was on medications for my stomach problems. Those prescriptions were Prilosac and Propulsid. Most prescription meds have long-term side effects of some form. One day I called Dr. Gerry Smith, through a friend's recommendation. I asked Dr. Smith if he could recommend an herb or vitamin to replace my medications. He did and it has been 3 years since I took those medications.

The many myths and misconceptions surrounding diabetes are still out there.

To repeat, some of them are the following:

  1. You just have a little bit of sugar.
  2. Herbs and vitamins are hocus pocus.
  3. Too much exercise is taboo.
  4. There are things you can't do being a diabetic.
  5. There are many careers that you can't follow being a diabetic. (Yes, I'll probably never fly a rocket ship to the moon.)
  6. Diabetics can't lead fairly normal lives.
  7. Etc., etc., etc.

Yes, I've had diabetes for the last 38 years of my life. But contrary to the above misconceptions, my life is bursting with vitality and excitement! I practice Martial Arts (Taekwon Do), distance bike ride, am immediate past president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and I am on the board of 6 other regional and national not-for-profit organizations. I have raised 4 children and I am married to a wonderful woman. I travel and I smile an awful lot!

As you can see, I live a life where I broke through all of the myths in regards to my disease. I once said to an audience, "You can choose to be happy or you can choose to be sad. Life gave me lemons 38 years ago and I made lemonade!"

Keep smiling. Thank you.

Marc H. Blatstein