Yes....I stuck my HEAD IN THE SAND and IGNORED ALL the effects of my Type 2 Diabetes!
My name is Tony Rodriguez. I am an award-winning personal trainer and now a CDC-trained diabetes health coach. I also have type 2 DIABETES! I was diagnosed way back in 1988.
My journey began when I had to submit urine for a drug test with a company I was starting with. The nurse, looking at the results of my test, STRONGLY SUGGESTED I see a doctor, since my sugar levels were very high, and get tested for Type 2 diabetes, which both of my parents had. We talked about my family history, which also included heart disease. Other than what she shared with me, I knew very little about the disease.
I made a mental note to make an appointment to get a physical and off I went to mandatory training for 8 weeks in Rochester, N. Y. I spent those weeks eating pretty much the same as before. All of the recommendations the nurse gave me as far as the dietary changes I needed to make I, well, IGNORED!
I ignored my diabetes because I felt fine! But the obvious symptoms were there, in a big way!
- CONSTANT thirst
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
Fast forward TWENTY years later.....
I noticed that my vision had become blurry and sometimes distorted. I made an appointment to see an ophthalmologist and was referred to a retinal specialist. After my first visit, the doctor sat me down and told ne something that I will NEVER forget:
"Mr. Rodriguez... you are in the advanced stages of diabetes retinopathy. You are at a HIGH RISK of losing your vision!"
I WAS NUMB!
For years I ignored the obvious signs of this disease such as the frequent urination, constant thirst, mood swings, foot neuropathy, and more. We all have that ONE THING that I like to now call our "Holy Crap" moment..
The possibility of going permanently blind was my "Holy Crap" moment!
Shortly after that diagnosis, it seemed that things started to accelerate. I experienced DOZENS of these eye hemorrhages and experienced TEMPORARY BLINDNESS, sometimes lasting 2 weeks or more. I also developed diabetes-related HEART DISEASE, which I was already at a high risk for because of my family history.
I received MONTHLY eye injections and laser treatments to reduce the hemorrhages in my eyes
Following a routine stress test, i was admitted to the hospital and had FIVE STENTS implanted in 2 my heart arteries. I had 75% and 85% blockage with NO discomfort or chest pain. My cardiologist attributes that to possible neuropathy in my chest area which masks pain.
Shortly after the above procedures, I was told by my doctors that I might be eligible for DISABILITY!
THAT, for me ladies and gentlemen, was the GAME CHANGER!
Here is the irony....I had become a successful personal trainer, had a booming business with loads of clients I helped, MANY WITH DIABETES!! I worked out 4-5 times per week but the type of training I did was NOT conducive to heart-health. It was more of a powerlifting-type training program that emphasized strength and power. It was NOT the type of exercise I needed to address my diabetes. IT ACTUALLY MADE THINGS WORSE!
The workout program that I engaged in all these years was driven by EGO, not common sense. It did NOTHING to address my diabetes so I TOTALLY CHANGED how I exercised. With diabetes, "you are what you eat" so I followed the advice I'd been dispensing for YEARS and applied it to myself!
The beginning of my "reversal journey" began with a DECISION to change. I needed to change my HABITS, the things I did each day, that were keeping me from improving my situation.
That decision was followed by an ACTION PLAN. That plan involved changing my LIFESTYLE HABITS. These habits included what I was EATING, how I EXERCISED and how I dealt with STRESS. Specifically, I changed my diet to a low-carb approach, I changed my fitness program with an emphasis more on heart-health, and I searched for way to improve my stress-coping skills.