Ed Grotenhuis talks about his journey with Diabetes
Educational. The basic story that accompanies this disease is determined by knowing what the disease really is, understanding how it effects the patient’s life and how the patient wants to handle it. To me, it quickly became a fact of life knowing that my grandparents had it also. The old rule was that it had a tendency to skip generations and that’s the way it was. Learn to live with it. Don’t eat anything that contained a lot of sugar was about the only standard to live by. Sooner or later it would get the best of you with more complicated side effects and eventually death.
In today’s world, that situation has changed drastically. It has become more problematic due to our lifestyle changes, what we consume on a regular basis and the many different ways to treat it.
My journey started in 1987 when I finally had a complete physical due to my lack of energy. At the time I was overweight, lacked adequate physical work, and was in a high stress occupation. My blood test came back with 14.7 A1C which meant nothing to me at all. The doctor said I more than likely had diabetes and put me on a diet and should start getting more physically active. I relocated shortly after that diagnosis and didn’t pay much attention to the problem.
My life continued to head “south” in the next few years with only an occasional visit to a doctor who just put me on a pill and kept increasing its dosage until one day he suggested going on insulin or visiting with an endocrinologist (whatever that was).
That’s when my diabetic journey really started. Over the years, I was given additional pills to take and was required to visit with a dietitian to understand how to consume all the foods I really liked, by adding or replacing my diet with foods that would help take care of my problem. All of this worked for awhile but I was finally put on insulin to try to get my physical life under control, so I thought. That was not the magic solution to my problem. After continually battling my situation for a good number of years, during which I did lose around 60 pounds, my new doctor (Dr. Mark Turek) suggested talking to a diabetic specialist at the local clinic. Little did I know my new life was about to begin.
In our first session with Dee Meerdink, diabetes care coordinator, my wife and I felt we learned more about diabetes in one hour than we acquired from all the years of doctor visits. It started a caring relationship between the patient and the world of understanding medicine for the commoner. Once again a dietician was soon introduced to put me on a program which I could understand and live with. Little did I know the two leaders were working together with noticeable progress being made after the first six months, then a year, until I finally plateaued. Shortly after that, I was introduced to the possibly of using an insulin pump (which I met with some unpleasant thoughts).
In July of 2018, I started using the insulin pump. Many educational sessions with Dee set me on a path of enjoying a life which I never thought would exist for me again. Her encouragements and the addition of another medical provider, Olivia Chapman, have created a team who have improved my health, attitude and lifestyle beyond my expectations. In 2019, another big adjustment was added. The introduction of a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) made my life even better. No more pricking of fingers for blood test. The old test strip method was a nuisance so the tests were usually done only 3 or 4 times a day since the finger pricking areas were getting very tender. Now with the CGM, I can monitor my count levels throughout the day to maintain a more even count of my blood sugars. Some of the newer CGMs are linked directly to the insulin pump which makes life all the better.
All in all, these last five years are somewhat of a dream come true. Through the education and concerns of a caring medical team, I am actually enjoying life with diabetes. I have lost 90 pounds and maintained that for quite a while and my last A1C reading on my monitor was 7.1! Life is Good!