Friends and fellow bloggers, I’d like to introduce you to my cousin, Bob Abernethy, who recently joined the blogosphere. The impetus for Bob to jump into our little universe was his recent diagnosis with Type II Diabetes – and the belief that sharing his experience could help others survive and accept the diagnosis, as well as beat the heck out of the disease.

1. Bob, what made you decide to share your story by blogging?

First and foremost, I’d like to thank you for the interview.  I feel like a celebrity!   I decided to share my story by blogging because when I was first diagnosed as a type II diabetic, it was truly frightening.  I had an acquaintance that was diagnosed about ten years ago. His attitude was poor at best.  He didn’t follow any directions, didn’t change his lifestyle at all, refused medication, and the disease completely ravaged him.  In five years he was dead.  My only experience with the disease was that I knew a guy who had it, and he died in five years.  

I knew immediately that this was not the result I wanted, but had no idea how to avoid it.  So I decided I would immerse myself in diabetes education.  I read everything I could, went to classes, and consulted a lot with my doctor.  My hope is that the newly diagnosed can learn from my mistakes, benefit from my experiences, relax, and smile.

2. In your first post, you tell the story of how you were originally diagnosed with humor and honesty. Did you really take it as well as it seemed?

That might be a question better asked of my wife and kids!  Seriously though, I think I handled it very well to be honest.  Worrying is a waste of time.  If you have a problem that can be controlled – control it.  Diabetes is a controllable problem.  It’s not easy, but it is controllable.  In six months, my A1C (the test that measures your blood glucose over a three month period) went from 13.5 (waaaaay high) to 6.5 – the normal level for A1C.  In that same six months, I went from 254 pounds, to 190 pounds.  My doctor is quite pleased.  So is my wife. 😉

3. I had gestational diabetes with my last pregnancy. The condition went away when the baby was born, but my doctor informed me that I would have an increased risk of diabetes for the rest of my life. (Thanks a lot, Gina.) Did anyone ever tell you that you were at risk for this disease?

Honestly – no.  I’m not sure how, because as I have learned since being diagnosed, I certainly tested the glucose tolerance limits of a human being.  A five foot nine inch 254 pound guy that watches way too much ESPN, while washing down Cheetos with chocolate milk: Who could have seen diabetes coming?

As hard core as I am about solving problems though, I’m even better at hiding them.  I had symptoms for years, but kept them to myself.  I assumed, (and we all know what that does) that I was just getting old.  Lesson learned.  And my other bloodwork would make Lance Armstrong jealous, so it’s understandable that I was not diagnosed earlier.

4. You blogged about your fondness for Web MD and how you misdiagnosed yourself with it. Has this tarnished its appeal at all, or do you still use it? What about all the other information available out on the web?

I love WebMD!  Do you know that they have a picture of a person on their site, and you can click on where it hurts, and they will tell you why?!  How cool is that?  I know I probably sound like a hypochondriac, but I’m not.  I just really hate to go to the doctor.  I saw a guy on ‘Tosh.0’  the other day that pulled his own tooth with a pair of pliers!  Now here’s a guy that doesn’t like to go to the dentist!  Although I think he’s an idiot on so many levels, I kind of sympathize with him. But I have learned my lesson.  With all of the information available on the web, it is not a replacement for a good diagnostician.  Go to the doctor, folks.

5. There is a strong community of writers in the blogosphere who support one another and share their experience. Have you found a similar community available for people living their lives in spite of diabetes?

The first blog I ever read was yours.  I had heard of blogging, but I am fairly tech-challenged, and never really knew what a great benefit it is.  There are so many blogs on diabetes it boggles my mind, and the support is incredible!  It’s so comforting to know that you can talk with other people who are having the same experience, and see how they are coping.  Reading about other people’s successes and, maybe more so, their mistakes, is very helpful.

6. Any words of wisdom for readers who suffer from diabetes, know they are at-risk, or have family members with the disease?

Of course I have words of wisdom! Diabetes is what it is.  It is a disease that can have horrid consequences.  You can look at it that way if you want to.  I choose to look at it differently.  I told my doctor that he sounded ominous when he told me of my diagnosis.  I suggested that from now on he say, “CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve hit the diabetes lottery!”  Goofy, right?

Consider this:  I was an obese 46 year old guy who was too tired to enjoy life.  I was uncomfortable in my own skin.  I had a 44 inch waist.  My eyesight was getting blurry.  I was lethargic.  And to make matters worse, all of these things were making me depressed.

Since my diagnosis, I have lost 70 pounds.  I have a 34 inch waist.  I have new found energy.  I’m eating right.  I exercise.  I feel like a new man!  Diabetes saved my life.
It’s all about attitude…
Now, I have a question for you.  When is the new book going to be done?  I have to know why those cages are over those graves!!!

Ha! It would be finished a lot sooner if I could find someone to pay me my teaching salary just to write!

Bob’s blog is Diabetes Lottery — informational, inspirational, and entertaining, always. Thank you for the interview, cuz – and THANK YOU FOR THE REMINDER! Ten years after Gina’s birth, that warning about diabetes had begun to slip my mind. I need to start paying attention again.