The Healthy Type 2 Diabetic
Not just a myth?
By Travis Grubbs
March 2010 — As a child in the 1970's I was fascinated by the reported sightings of "Bigfoot" or "Sasquatch." For those not familiar with him, or the Jack Link's Beef Jerky's "Messing with Sasquatch" ad campaign, Bigfoot is an alleged ape-like creature between 6' and 10' tall, who weighs about 500 pounds, is covered in dark brown or dark reddish hair, and inhabits forests in the Pacific Northwest region of North America.
Now the reports were not just verbal accounts of Bigfoot's existence; these reports included photos, videos, and even casts of his footprints! Of course, the photos and videos were not of the best quality. They were usually grainy and distorted, and left one wondering if it was indeed Bigfoot or a just man in an ape suit trying to perpetrate a hoax.
Since my type 2 diabetes diagnosis I have often heard of another rare being, a creature deemed to be credible, but never proven to be true. I am referring to the "Healthy Type 2 Diabetic" - a person who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, even though they were not overweight, were not sedentary--i.e., they didn't make themselves type 2 diabetics! When I have read about such individuals on message boards, they always seem to be a friend of a friend, and not some one that the poster knew, or has ever personally met.
This all changed for me in October of 2009. I met the "Healthy Type 2 Diabetic"! He's quite normal looking, and his name is John. I, along with my other city employees, was attending his Defensive Driving Class. As our instructor John was introducing himself, giving the break and lunch schedule, he mentioned that he might open a pack of crackers during class because he had diabetes and he might feel his blood sugar dropping.
I immediately labeled him as having type 1 diabetes. In fact, I leaned over to the employee sitting next to me (she is also type 1), and stated my opinion. It was then that John said that he managed his diabetes through diet only. This really caught my attention. Could it be that this fit and trim man really was a type 2 diabetic?
At our first break I approached him, introduced myself, revealed that I too was a type 2 diabetic, and explained my interest in his condition. This wouldn't work with just anyone, but John is very personable and outgoing. He told me about having to have his blood tested three to four times a year because he had problems with high cholesterol. It was during a blood test some six years ago that John, at the age of 53, was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic. This diagnosis was made even though John exercised on a regular basis, which included playing tennis two to three times a week. Now, John just didn't play tennis, but he competed in local, regional, and state tennis tournaments. He was no stranger to physical activity.
Was John misdiagnosed? His stats: 53 years old, weight 145 – 150 pounds, height at 5'-8", physically active, would hardly make him a candidate for type 2 diabetes. So John was tested three different times. Each time his blood sugar was high and he had an A1C of 7.8. While John's weight has remained the same since his diagnosis, he has lowered his A1C to the low 5.0's through diet alone. Looking at him you would never guess that he has type 2 diabetes (or high cholesterol).
I was pleased to meet John. His diagnosis provides more evidence that type 2 diabetes is not just a fat person's disease, and that it's not reserved only for people who deserve it. And if a guy like John can be a healthy type 2 diabetic, then maybe, just maybe, Bigfoot really is out there. I hope so.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...