By Daniel J. Vance MS, LPCC
Over the years, he's managed his health well—so well one doctor said he could be a “poster child” for type 2 diabetes. Yet Jerry Groebner of Madison Lake, Minnesota, still has been put to the test having to manage it.
In a telephone interview, 69-year-old Groebner said, “In 1988, I went to a doctor to check a lump on my wrist and my cholesterol. He said the lump wasn't cancerous and my cholesterol was great.” However, the doctor said Groebner was diabetic and gave him options: either lose 30 pounds within the next month or be admitted to a hospital. The doctor's seriousness got Groebner's attention.
According to the National Institutes of Health, diabetes is “a lifelong (chronic) disease in which there's a high level of sugar (glucose) in the blood.” With type 2 diabetes, Groebner's muscle, liver, and fat cells incorrectly respond to insulin. His blood sugar doesn't enter those cells for energy storage. So sugar can accumulate in his blood, which can be problematic.
In 1998, after years of watching his diet, he had a major scare. Around noon, while snapping wedding photographs for his work, he downed a mixed drink on an empty stomach, which rapidly lowered his blood sugar level. He said, “I told my wife we had to go home right away. She drove because I could hardly stand. When at home, I literally fell out of my car. My legs were rubbery. I crawled into the house to check my blood sugar. It was at 35. They say at 25 you go into a coma.”
Groebner learned his lesson. He became more active in seminar panels to educate others about diabetes and in 1999 was invited to participate in an experimental trial for a time-release insulin product seeking FDA approval. Today, he checks his blood sugar about four times daily and watches his diet like a hawk.
He said, “My big fear is the loss of eyesight from high blood sugar. I have four kids and six grand-kids I want to see. A doctor said if they had one I'd be the poster child for diabetics.”
He advised people diagnosed: “Take some good diabetes education courses and stick with their recommendations. Don't think that if you have it under control for a week you're cured. There is no cure. But it's in your hands and you can control it.”
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