3/19/18

Armed with protein bars and exercise, pair tackles diabetes daily

Champaign’s Marsha Daniels wears many labels proudly: artist, gardener, birdwatcher and friend. Then she received a new one – Type 2 diabetic – and she was anything but proud.

“I was embarrassed, ashamed. I beat myself up a lot. I even bargained with the doctor to give me six more months to try to beat it,” she said.

Doctors delivered a blow – there was no cure, no turning back.

Daniels struggled with weight her entire life so this diagnosis rocked her core. Type 2 diabetes is connected with obesity, and losing weight can minimize symptoms.

People with Type 1 diabetes, typically on the younger side, require insulin to keep them healthy. The average age for diagnosis is 14 so at 63, 130 pounds and active, Monticello’s Rod Darsham isn’t typical.

Today’s sedentary lifestyle and fast food temptations contribute to the growing number of area people with diabetes.

A free Carle event offered can help you take charge of your diabetes – either kind. Type One Type Two Type You is Thursday, April 5, 4 – 7:30 p.m. RSVP online or call (217) 383-3021.

“The CDC estimates without major lifestyles changes, one in three could have diabetes by 2050,” said Martha Trenkamp, Carle registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator.

Small steps like preparing healthy foods and regular exercise make a difference.

 “I never thought I’d be able to lose the weight, but I was determined to control my diabetes without medication” Daniels said.

Gardening provided a successful outlet, combined with both walking more and eating healthier. She signed up for a 5K, then a 10K and even a bicycle fundraising ride to keep motivated and to push herself.

Daniels includes her doctor, nurse practitioner, weight-loss group, nutritionist and a monthly support group as her team.

Today, 62 pounds lighter, Daniels is in control of her life and her diabetes – without medication.

“I keep seeking out education and support to keep on track. I’m blessed that I can control it with diet and exercise because not everyone can,” she said.

Type 1 diabetes affects a body’s ability to produce insulin and typically requires medication in addition to diet and exercise. 

This was the case for Darsham. His life-altering diabetes diagnosis made it unclear if he would live.

“I was awful sick. My energy was low. I dropped to 112 pounds and had vision issues,” Darsham said.

Taking charge of his diabetes brought him back to better health. Gone are the days of a soda, sandwich and fries. Today’s diet is water, low-salt and-sodium, counting carbs and a daily walk.

“I write everything down that goes into my mouth. I now understand carbs. Sugar is in so many things,” he said.

Minor “adjustments” as he calls them have made it possible to break the cycle. He offers some tips:

  • Don’t keep snacks around
  • Carry healthy treats with you
  • Look after one another or reach out for support
  • Walk daily

Classes were also instrumental to understanding his insulin pump.

It took Darsham about eight months to get into his new routine with support from his wife of 43 years, Glenda.

Darsham is resuming his active lifestyle, chasing his grandkids across the county to sporting events.

“We have to divide and conquer at times to get to all eight grandkids’ events, but I won’t let this disease slow me down or keep me from living,” he said.