Wow, and I thought picking winners for our Holiday Sweepstakes diabetes wisdom contest was difficult! But for the NEW YEAR, NEW YOU Diabetes Makeover competition, what we ended up judging were people's life stories — their hard luck and their struggles with diabetes and related health conditions. How do you place comparative value on that?!
Everyone wrote so eloquently about their situation — years of unstable blood sugars, struggles with weight loss, coping with neuropathy and pressures at home and at work — that having to pick just a few patients out of the crowd seemed almost wrong. But we were glad that we could help some folks, rather than none. In the end, we made our selections based on who seemed most ideally situated to benefit the most from the type of program Insulite has to offer. Much of that insight came from the company's GM Neal Rohr, who was truly touched by every story we received!
Without further ado, allow me now to announce the winners, and share excerpts of their all-too-familiar stories:
Type 2 Winners -
Melanie Imhoff, a school nurse at a Middle School who wrote to us in part:
"... I am a 52 year old Type 2 diabetic that has been overweight for many years. I figure that if I don't do this now it will only get harder. I am currently on an Insulin pump and would like to be able to get my diabetes stable enough to possibly reduce the amount used in the pump or stop it all together. I am very hopeful that I can succeed with support. I really want to be healthy and being slimmer would also be a plus. I am a grandmother and would love to be able to get on the floor with my grandchildren as well as do some sports with them. I would really like to be able to hike without huffing and puffing and aching. I would like to lose at least 50 lbs to meet my goals. I can be very focused when I have a plan and think that I would do very well. I need to conquer this weight problem and I need help."
Randy Gowen, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in October of '08, and shared with us:
"I had always been one of the healthiest people I knew, not due to taking care of myself, but I just never seemed to get sick. As a rule, I didn't take very good care of myself, I've smoked since I was a teenager, and had a terrible diet, pretty much treating my body like a playground not a temple.
When I was diagnosed, I was shocked and stunned. After coming to grips with the facts, I decided I was going to do everything I could to get my condition under control and even beat it. Talking to my doctor and a dietitian was not very helpful. They basically told me to lose 30 pounds, exercise, and cut out carbs. Good advice! But they gave me no real plan to help accomplish these goals.
After spending a couple months researching diabetes, and looking for a plan that could help me, I've only become more confused. There are so many books, articles, magazines, websites and opinions on the subject, that it can make your head spin. I need real help... (to) get a jump on controlling my condition and possibly save myself from years of horrible complications."
Type 1 Winner -
George Simmons of The BAD Blog (note: being a blogger was not necessary to win), whose essay was so touching, we simply had to print the whole thing:
"I am fat. I have been overweight as long as I can remember. When I was in grammar school I was the "fat kid." Sure I had lots of friends because I learned to turn my weight into a comedy routine and made everyone laugh at me. Although I would laugh with them my nights were filled with crying myself to sleep hating what I looked like and how I felt.
For years this went on until I was in high school and I started to lose weight incredibly fast and for no reason. Being in band required marching around for hours each day but I was still eating terribly so that wasn't why I was losing. I was a teenager who drank soda all day and all night until one day at 160 pounds (down from 265) I almost passed out. My mother took me to the emergency room and I was diagnosed as a type 1 with a 504 blood sugar count.
After my BG got under control my weight came back on and I have been struggling since. A year after I was diagnosed my father died of a heart attack. He was 43. I turned to drugs, alcohol, and smoking to ease my pain and never cared much about my disease.
Years went by and the drugs and drinking stopped but the smoking continued. I eventually got married, had two kids, and still kept smoking and ignoring my diabetes. A few years ago I finally started to pay attention to my type 1 but with a poor education. I quit smoking soon after that and gained even more weight. Last year I lost 42 pounds on Weight Watchers which felt great. And then the economy hit my family hard and we lost our home.
That loss has been a major turning point in my life much like my father's death and my diagnosis. Since this all happened my A1C has gone up, my weight has increase to what it was before Weight Watchers and at 35 years old, I feel like my time is running out, especially with my family history.
The thought of having a heart attack and leaving my wife to raise our kids by herself absolutely terrifies me. I know how every exciting moment in my life is bitter sweet because my father cannot be here and every difficult one a time I wish I could turn to him. I am determined to not do that to my kids. But I need help.
My sister got married this last weekend and my mother had to give her away. I danced with her in my fathers place and I cried like I did when each of my sisters were married. I want more then anything to be here to walk my daughter down the aisle, to play with my grandkids, and to grow old with my wife.
Help me to not be the fattest Type 1."
To reiterate, we wish we could help you ALL out. The good news is that it looks like you have another chance; as it happens, the editors of the patient newsletter diaTribe are now hosting a contest to win free diabetes consulting from Integrated Diabetes Services, the excellent educational clinic run by famous CDE and author Gary Scheiner. To enter, just click on the link in the upper right corner of the diaTribe website and fill out a short survey form. And one more tip: I've heard a number of folks singing the praises of a new site called SparkPeople that offers tips and tools for diet, exercise and overall healthy lifestyle. Worth a look?
Our three winners, above, will be contacted by Insulite's team shortly to begin their three-month Diabetes Makeover. They'll be guided through healthy eating and exercise routines, and coached on kicking the "carb addiction" that plagues so many of us.
We will be following their progress here at the 'Mine with monthly check-in posts.
Godspeed, Makeover Winners!