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Managing your diabetes for a healthier life

Managing your diabetes for a healthier life

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and it affects some 29 million people in the United States.

Managing your diabetes can mean the difference between life and death.

Sam Benson, 56, is one of the 29 million people in the United States with diabetes.

“Every day to think about my meds, my counts, what I eat,” Sam said.

Like 90 percent of the people who have diabetes, Sam has type 2.

A chronic condition that affects the way insulin is able to process blood sugar.

“In type 2 diabetes, somebody has their own insulin still, but related either to aging or becoming overweight, or both, you become resistant to insulin, so the insulin is still there, but it's not working as well,” said Dr. Debra Counts

Some people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood sugar levels with healthy eating and being active, but many require medication to keep it in check.

Sam admits he didn't know how to take care of himself for years.

“So I went for a while without taking meds,” Sam explained.

And that took a toll on him that led to a heart attack, nerve damage, and excruciating pain.

“And tomorrow I go in for another surgery. I'm scared,” Sam admitted. “I'm nervous.”

But Sam is determined to better manage his disease. He knows now what the consequences can be.

“I know people that had amputation, a guy I went to school with went blind and he died,” Sam said. “I'm not ready for that.”

Sam is getting help from his local hospital, and community health worker, Verna Hines,

who works to educate patients on managing their disease.

“Your sugar count can actually drop low,” Verna said. “You don't have anything around to bring that sugar up, you could potentially die.”

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include being overweight, being over 45. and being physically inactive.

African Americans and Hispanics are particularly at high risk.

Sam has now found the strength to rehab an old rowhome.

“I'm very proud of the things that I’ve done,” Sam said. “It took me two months to do this room.”

Just like he's rehabbing his health one step at a time.

Type 2 diabetes usually gets worse over time, even if you don't need medications at first you may need them later on.

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