“Get off your lazy behind and do it.” That’s Eugene Boyce’s advice for anyone not actively managing their diabetes.
Boyce, 70, used to be among their ranks. A former truck driver, Boyce knew for years that his blood sugars were high but didn’t want to think about taking insulin.
“Once you start on insulin, you can’t be a truck driver anymore,” he said.
Boyce finally got to the point earlier this year where he needed to start managing his diabetes with insulin. After a trip to the hospital for an unrelated condition, blood tests showed his sugars above 500 and his hemoglobin A1C at 10.9. He also started feeling numbness in his legs.
Follow-up tests showed his blood sugars were in the high 300s. His doctor, Scott Schindell, MD, sent him to Samaritan Endocrinology where Anita Abraham, MD, started him on insulin.
“When I started the insulin, my blood sugar went from 380 to 160 overnight,” Boyce said. “I was really surprised.”
He also went through the three-week Diabetes Education class at Samaritan Albany General Hospital and started working with Diabetes Educator Jennifer Sylvester.
“Jennifer is my blessed angel,” Boyce said. “She coached me on how to give myself the insulin shots. After three months, it’s still not the easiest thing to do, but I know it’s helping. When I came back in with my sugar at 160, she was as blown away as I was.”
Aside from insulin, Boyce now closely watches his carbohydrates, and he walks at least three miles a day. Most days, he walks five miles.
“It’s to the point now that if I don’t walk, I feel crummy,” he said. “If I don’t get the chance to walk, I’ll ride five miles on my stationary bicycle.”
Today, Boyce’s sugars are between 100 and 200 depending on the time of day, and his A1C in July was 7.2. His weight is around 150 pounds, down from 165 in January. His goal is to stay at 150 pounds and get his A1C into the 6 range.
He’s had to retire from truck-driving, but Boyce is excited about his new part-time job as a food demonstrator at Walmart in Albany.
What advice would he give someone struggling with diabetes, other than stop procrastinating? “I would tell them that it’s okay to be upset, but don’t stay there. Move on to acceptance and do something about it.”
He also would encourage patients to work with their doctors, take the Diabetes Education class and open up to others about how they’re doing.
“Start building a sphere of people who can help you,” he said. “And don’t shut your family out. They have to know and understand what’s going on, and you need to do it for them as much as yourself. I’m doing this because I have my wife, Pat, my son and granddaughters to live for. Plus, I feel a lot better myself now.”