Most of us have, at some point in our lives, an 'aha' moment in which our health springs forward from the far, far back burner and suddenly sits at the top of the priority list. For Brian Harris, that moment was a sudden heart attack at the age of 33. After waking up in the cardiac care unit, he discovered he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Through the online diabetes grapevine, Brian submitted his dramatic story to GlucoStories, a contest run by the American Diabetes Wholesale, an online store for purchasing diabetes supplies. Sponsored by race car driver Charlie Kimball, who's been in the news lately for his partnership with Novo Nordisk, the contest asked people to submit their personal stories about how diabetes has impacted their life to win a chance at seeing Charlie Kimball at the "Firestone® Indy Lights" Championship Race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida.
Brian was recently selected as the GlucoStories winner for his entry: "Live like you were dying!" (pretty fitting for someone with diabetes, no?)
Brian had shared his narrative via his MySpace page for years, but finally decided to enter the contest at the encouraging of friends. Although his father had diabetes, Brian ignored the symptoms, which he warns is a bad idea. "Trust me, ignoring it doesn't make them go away.
Five years after his dramatic diagnosis, Brian's advice is sound advice: "Don't give up."
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"My first couple of years I began slipping into a shell where I just wanted to be left alone. Your body will ache. You will be frustrated over things you cannot eat. You will get mad! Don't let those inner voices win," Brian says. "Outside of my family, I owe a great deal to a very good friend who helped me realize that I was slipping into "old man mode" and she made me realize that I was the only one who could get myself out of that slump."
On Friday, Brian and his 13-year-old son flew to Florida from Iowa to see Charlie race. Brian says that Charlie's story helped him realize that he — indeed, all of us — are not outcasts.
Charlie, who served as one of the judges, was also inspired by Brian. "His story definitely reminded me of how serious ignoring diabetes can be as well as how great life can be. It is an inspiration to know that even though he nearly died, he still lives life to the fullest. When he said 'don't sweat the small stuff' it reminded me to focus on the important things in life — friends, family, health and that will all lead to a happy successful life."
Congrats, and thanks for sharing your story, Brian! A great reminder as well to keep our heart health in mind.