Diabetes nothing to be taken lightly

Karla Heath-Sands

Karla Heath-Sands

I knew it was coming. I had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes with my first-born, and there were signals with my second-born. Diabetes had also been a part of my family, as both my mother and grandmother were living with the disease.

Growing up, I remember assisting my grandmother with her insulin injections and later watching her after she had a leg amputated and suffered a stroke. She later had the other leg amputated. I've also watched my mother survive a heart attack, battle high blood pressure and experiment with an insulin pump.

I knew that I should have watched the carbs and the sweets. I knew I needed to exercise more. I did neither. As a result of ignoring my health, I have been battling diabetes for about eight years. Until recently, I had been giving myself two injections of Byetta each day. However, within the last month, my internist changed my medication to insulin.

Since December, my fasting glucose numbers had been running 200 and 300 plus -- regardless of how I changed what I ate. Having to be up and at the station very early each morning does not lend itself to having a lack of energy. How can I inspire my viewers to get up and out if I don't feel like getting up and out? I was sluggish and could barely make it up the stairs. I welcomed the insulin.

When we look at the faces of those with diabetes, we see young and old, rich and poor, and all races. Paula Deen, Halle Berry, Brett Michaels, Patty LaBelle, B.B. King, Larry King, Dominique Wilkins and so many others -- all diabetics.

The number of children being diagnosed with diabetes is also alarming. The word "epidemic" is not an overstatement.

So, here I am, having to watch my carbs. I've made some of the recommended substitutions, but I just can't get into the brown rice -- sorry. I love pasta, and to satisfy my appetite my dietitian recommended Dreamfield pastas. They don't raise the glycemic numbers as other pastas do.

I now eat wheat bread instead of white bread. I use butter substitutes and, sometimes, 2 percent milk cheeses. I add Splenda to my coffee -- gotta have my coffee in the morning. I read labels and try to watch the portion sizes. I do still eat what I like -- pizza and all -- but again, I watch my portion sizes. I still fail horribly on the exercise piece, but I will do some stretches -- now and then. Again, sorry, Dr. Kitchens.

When I heard that Dominique Wilkins has diabetes, I was shocked. He's an athlete, he's healthy ... how can that be? I thank him for coming to south Georgia to share his story about how he lives with and manages the disease. Maybe his story will inspire others to change their lifestyles so that they won't join our numbers. Diabetes is a very serious disease and should not be taken lightly. You've got to take care of yourself.

Karla Heath-Sands is anchor and host of "Dialogue" on WALB-TV.