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Lifelong burden of diabetes

Diabetes doesn’t always develop from obesity or genetics.
Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 12:14 PM CST
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - In Mississippi, 300,000 people are diagnosed with diabetes. An additional 75,000 don’t know they have it. WTOK is calling attention to the lifelong burden of this potentially deadly disease as part of National Diabetes Awareness Month.

Nicholas Reed falls in that category. He nearly lost his life before he was diagnosed with type one diabetes.

“I didn’t go into a coma. If I would’ve went to sleep that night, I’m 90% positive that I would’ve went into a coma that night,” Reed said. “If I would’ve never gone to the hospital, and I would’ve just let it be. My body would’ve just killed itself.”

Nick’s mother, Candace Clark says the signs of diabetes were hard to miss.

“He was really thirsty. He had drunk almost a case of water that day. Just real tired and he said, ‘I think I might have diabetes.’ I said, ‘There’s no way you have diabetes we don’t have it in our family,’” Clark said.

That’s what most people believe. Diabetes doesn’t always develop from obesity or genetics.

Nick lost 25 pounds in less than a week. His vision became blurry. But the biggest red flag- Nicholas’ overpowering fruity breath.

“The fruity breath usually comes later on once their body has gone a period of time without producing that insulin,” Laura King, Family Nurse Practitioner at Rush Health Systems said. “It’s caused because their sugar is so high, their body is breaking down fat for energy and it causes that fruity smell.”

At the age of 22, Nick was forced to change his entire lifestyle.

“Growing up I always hated math and so now I do math every day. Every time, I eat, every time I get stressed out, every time I want to do anything. I have to keep my blood sugar in mind,” Reed said.

The Mississippi State Department of Health says about 300,000 adults lived with diabetes in 2016.

In 2019, Mississippi ranked 2nd in the nation with the highest cases of diabetes. Alabama ranked 3rd at 13%.

Endocrinologists help treat patients with diabetes. Unfortunately, the closest endocrinologists are more than 100 miles away from Meridian.

Candace and Nick desperately turned to Rush for life-saving medical care.

“There’s a lot of primary care providers in the area that treat diabetes of course, but we specialize in that—offer pumps, continuously glucose monitors,” King said.

King also says National Diabetes Awareness Month is a great time to get you and your family checked and tested because a diabetes diagnosis can catch some by surprise.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, King suggests staying the healthiest weight that you possibly can.

“You want to make sure that you are drinking plenty of water. You’re eating those foods that are lower in sugar are carbohydrates. You want to manage your amount of carbohydrates,” King mentioned. “You want to make sure you get a good 15-to-30-minute exercise five days a week.”

Listen to your body because the risks are too severe.

“If he had not told me that day, he could’ve gone to bed that day and not woke up,” Clark said. “It’s just—it’s so important to take care of yourself and if something doesn’t feel right let somebody know.”

If you have a child with type one diabetes and you’re concerned about risks involving your other children, contact your provider for a blood test.

Laura King suggests people become more aware to catch diabetes early if it does develop.

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