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People With Diabetes

People With Diabetes

Profile of Diabetes: Amelia Montes

Amelia M.L. Montes is many things: a university professor, a writer, and a person who is successfully managing her diabetes. One thing she is not: a diabetic.

“Diabetes is a chronic disease that I have and that I daily manage,” Dr. Montes says. “It is not who I am.”

Describing herself as a Chicana and a Latina, she was born in Los Angeles and then raised in East Los Angeles, the largest Hispanic community in the country. Dr. Montes’s parents were recent immigrants from Mexico, and she spent her childhood living on both sides of the border. Her publications always use her full name and title, Amelia María de la Luz Montes, Associate Professor of English and Ethnic Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Professor Montes Works Out

I have known her as Amelia ever since she emailed me six years ago to write that her doctor had told her three days earlier that she had diabetes. “I’m upset, freaked out, depressed, and scared,” Amelia wrote me then. About nine months later when she visited me in Boulder, Colorado, she was doing better. Now, she has become a role model for her success in managing this disease.

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People With Diabetes

The Stress of Managing Diabetes When You Are the Prime Minister

Do you think that managing your diabetes is too hard because of all your responsibilities? Then, you might want to consider the tasks facing a 59-year-old woman named Theresa May.

She just became the UK’s Prime Minister. This makes her among the first—if not the first—current heads of a government who has diabetes.

Three years ago, when she was the country’s Home Secretary, Ms. May made an appointment with her doctor to treat a bad cold. She mentioned that she had been losing a lot of weight, so the doctor ordered a blood test. Her blood glucose level showed that she had diabetes.

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Diabetes Medication, People With Diabetes

John Dodson’s Diabetes Journey

At first John Dodson wasn’t a good diabetes patient, he says. For the first 10 years after he learned that he had type 2 diabetes in 1985, he thought that managing his diabetes was up to his doctor.

“I tried to do what he said, but of course I failed,” he told me. “My blood sugar was generally between 150 and 250, so I had an awfully hard time.”

The doctor that he saw at that time was a general practitioner. That doctor prescribed the only oral drug we had at that time for diabetes, one of the a sulfonylureas called glyburide. Later he switched to an endocrinologist, who gave John an unpleasant wake-up call.

“That doctor told me that there was nothing he could do for me and that after five years I would be on dialysis,” John recalls. “I walked out of that office thinking that this is not going to be my future.”

So he switched right away to another endocrinologist, Dr. Joe Prendergast. He is one of this country’s leading endocrinologists and a pioneer in many areas. I have known him since 1999 when I wrote about his telemedicine practice in an article that I wrote for the American Diabetes Association’s website.

“The very day that I saw Dr. Joe,” John remembers, “he said, John, I think I’ve got something that will help you.” That was in June 2005. A diabetes medication in a new class of drugs called GLP-1 agonists, Byetta (exenatide), had just become available. John became the first person in the county to take Byetta.

John Dodson near Moss Landing, California,  in February 2008

Byetta was what connected John and me. We started corresponding in early 2006 when he wrote me about my about my post here, “Stalking Byetta.” His encouragement for me to start taking Byetta even if I couldn’t work out my insurance coverage did a lot to get me started a few days later. Since that time John became my role model and ultimately my best friend, and we have visited each other often.

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People With Diabetes

Paula Deen’s Critics

Paula Deen’s critics have it wrong. Everybody is jumping all over this poor celebrity chef now that she says that she has diabetes.

Poor Paula has grown rich and famous by parleying her home-style cooking into a food empire. Newly divorced and with her last $200 she started a catering service in 1989. In 1996 that became her first restaurant in Savannah, Georgia, and that in turn led to television. Since 1999 she has hosted several Food Network shows. Four cookbooks, featuring traditional Southern recipes, and her memoir, It Ain’t All About the Cookin’, followed.
Paula Deen in Her Kitchen
The Chef at Work

Paula was once cash poor. But now that she has money and fame, everybody is poor-mouthing her cooking.

The experts just don’t like Southern comfort food the way poor Paula cooks it. They don’t like the high amounts of “fat, salt, and sugar” in her recipes. Note the emphasis on fat.

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Exercise For Diabetes, People With Diabetes

The Korean Paradox

South Korea is different from the United States.

In some important respects this Asian country is more like America than most of us would think. This country is a democracy with a booming economy.

But the differences are great and go beyond Korea’s use of a different language and even a different alphabet than Westerners use. The differences go far beyond history and tradition. The biggest differences that I have seen during my visit this month are in the people themselves.

I saw with my own eyes how thin almost all Koreans are. Coming from the United States — even though I live in the thinnest state — I have been amazed to see almost no obesity here.

So, of course, I expected that almost no one in Korea would have diabetes. After all, didn’t the American weight problem lead to the rapid rise of diabetes in our country?

We know that some sort of link between being overweight and having diabetes exists. We do know that being overweight doesn’t cause diabetes, because two-thirds of American are overweight and about one-tenth of us have diabetes. But as our weight has gone up so too has the proportion of people with diabetes. Those two conditions have to have some association. Continue Reading

People With Diabetes

Shameless Self-Promotion

If you decide that this post is shameless self-promotion, you would be half right. The people at Diabetes PowerShow say some nice things about me on their website.

But when they interviewed me last week, somehow I thought that I might have said a thing or two that would interest you. Since I went on and on for an hour and one-half, my message has to contain some meat.

You can go directly to their interview with me here. Fortunately, it’s only an audio interview, so you don’t have to watch me.

The Diabetes PowerShow team is four people with diabetes doing this work as a labor of love out of their Las Vegas studio. They interviewed me by phone, so I didn’t have to go to Vegas in the heat of the summer.

Producer Charlie Cherry, who has type 2, recruited me to the show after we met at the past two Social Media Summits hosted by Roche Diabetes Care. Charlie’s partners are a co-hosting couple, Chris Moore, who calls himself type 3, i.e. a spouse of someone with diabetes, and his wife Theresa, type 1. A fourth team member, Chris Daniel, also has type 1, but was missing in action.

When Charlie approached me to do the interview, the hot button that he pressed was for me to talk about my twin passions of photography and hiking. I write about them on my “Fitness and Photography for Fun” blog.

Near the end of the interview he asked me about those passions of mine. Before that we talked about my life with and without diabetes and my other passion, spreading the word about controlling diabetes, which I know can make us healthier and happier than ever before.

You can listen to my interview on your computer. But if you have an iPhone, an iPod, iPad, or other MP3 player, you have a better option. After you get iTunes on your computer, you can subscribe to Diabetes PowerShow for free and get all of the shows delivered automatically. This is better, because you can listen while you are on the go, instead of sitting at your desk.

I hope that at least one of you gets something out of listening. As I told Charlie by email, the Talmud says that “to save one person is to save the world.” That’s all I want to do with my life.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.