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The Healthy Living Magazine

A Second Chance

By Edie Dykeman ,

In September 2006, several years after my mother died, I moved in with my dad so he could stay in the house they had shared for many years. Dad had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1982 and at that time began taking pills to regulate his blood glucose. In 1990, he had moved on to insulin.

One Sunday morning we were preparing to go out to breakfast. I was talking to my daughter on my cell phone, arranging for her to meet us, when I discovered Dad lying across his bed. He appeared to be unconscious and convulsive, so I immediately called 911. The emergency team found him in a diabetic coma with a blood glucose of 23 and rushed him to the emergency room.

It turned out that Dad had tested his blood glucose, taken his insulin, and was in the process of getting dressed for breakfast when he passed out.

We met with a diabetes educator who told Dad he needed to change his lifestyle. After returning home from that meeting, I made an outline of what food options he had for each meal and set the meal plan on the kitchen table. Because he prepared most of his own meals, it was important that Dad understood what he could eat.

The next morning I walked into the kitchen. Dad was standing by the table looking at his new food plan. He could no longer have his breakfast glass of orange juice, and the cereal he normally enjoyed for breakfast was now relegated to an evening snack. Unfortunately, none of his new breakfast options appealed to him. I could tell by the look on his face that he was realizing what a tough road lay ahead.

And yet he has risen to that challenge, and others: All my life I've known Dad to be an active outdoorsman, and it's been difficult for him in recent years with the severe pain in his hips and legs that he's been experiencing. I know it's hard for him to not be able to walk and exercise outdoors as intensely as he used to. But he now gets exercise by riding his stationary bike, or going on short walks. While I know it is challenging for him, the slow but steady exercise regimen combined with his diet plan has been working. In just a few months, Dad has lost 15 pounds.

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Every night around dinnertime, Dad and his 90-year-old sister talk on the phone. When I hear him tell her what he had for dinner or how far he walked that day, I can hear the pride in his voice. At 85 years old—and while still dealing with the loss of my mother—my dad is taking on a tough new challenge, and getting a second chance at a healthy life.

Edie Dykeman is a freelance writer currently living with her father, Lloyd Monroe, in Williamston, Mich.