Diabetes Awareness: My Story

More than 10 million Canadians and 115 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes—one of them is my dad. He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in his early 60s, and within 10 years, the disease began to take its toll. The effects of my dad’s diagnosis have been heartbreaking.

My dad has lived a remarkable life. Growing up, my parents were foster parents to teens who faced many challenges. My sister, two brothers, and I grew up with five foster teenage boys, and my parents later opened their home to any child needing emergency short-term placement, at any time, day or night. At one point, they even accepted a child who had recently attempted suicide.

My mom and dad have given back their whole lives. They were incredibly involved as parents to all of us, and they were always there for anyone in need. We were completely taken aback when my dad, a former university football player and volunteer firefighter, started having trouble walking. No one expected him to have type 2 diabetes.

As his diabetes progressed, I made the decision to move my parents out from Montreal to live with me here in BC in June 2006. My dad was open to the idea as his ship had been stationed in Victoria for a time while working for the Navy, but my mom was crushed. She had lived in the same house in Montreal for 40 years, surrounded by lifelong friends and family. My mom cried for a year while making the preparations to move. I tried to remake my home so that it would remind my mom of her place in Montreal.

Three years later, with diabetes overwhelming his body, my dad was told he would lose his leg—this news was devastating to all of us. At first, he didn’t know if his leg needed to be amputated above or below the knee. This was the determining factor for whether wearing a prosthetic or whether walking was an option. I remember being in that waiting room, just waiting to hear the news about the surgery, about whether or not my dad would have the chance to walk again. I saw an attendant go by with a yellow bag, and thought nothing of it, until I saw what it was. I saw the length of the limb being carried in the bag and knew that my dad could get his prosthetic.

Sadly, within months, as my dad struggled with dreadful phantom pain, and his leg wound refused to heal. Any thought of a prosthetic became irrelevant, as my dad lost his second leg and became wheelchair-bound. My dad’s a fighter though—he still thought he might drive. But as diabetes ravaged his body and he suffered through a series of strokes, he soon lost his peripheral vision, and then his license. Finally, in July 2011, he had the stroke that would render him paralyzed in his right arm and aphasic—unable to speak. It is tragic to know that my dad completely understands everything, but is left with almost no ability to be understood. He keeps plugging away, even with a failing heart that functions at only 20 percent. After his paralysis, he taught himself to eat with his left hand (he is right-handed), and I can even still get him to smile. Yet the fact remains—his life has been destroyed by diabetes.

Update: On Saturday, March 23rd, 2013, my father James Higbee lost his battle with type 2 diabetes.

The key was, my dad never changed his diet. He took his medication and got medical care, but he didn’t ever make the dietary changes that are so necessary for diabetics. So when I started to experience high blood pressure and joint inflammation myself, I immediately recognized the pattern I had seen in my dad. Although I had always been active and tried to eat healthy, I knew it was time for drastic change. I was already familiar with the supplements you can buy at health food stores, but I was very intrigued by foods, so on the spur of the moment, I looked up ‘holistic schools’ on the internet and came across the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. I called that very day, arranged a meeting for the next, and asked to start immediately. At first, I just wanted to educate my family and myself, but I soon realized the value of what I was learning, and I vowed to bring this information to the masses. After two years of study, I am now a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, I am CEO of WholeLife Holistic Nutrition Inc., and I have developed nutrition apps to help make a difference to the health of others—one being the Blood Sugar App.

I wanted to create something that focused specifically on diabetes. The series of apps under development are all related, but the Blood Sugar App is definitely near and dear to my heart. I hope to make a fundamental difference in people’s lives—type 2 diabetes is an epidemic and the numbers are staggering. The Blood Sugar App is focused on approaching all of your blood sugar concerns, naturally. While the App is intended for people who are afflicted with diabetes, or who are generally concerned about blood sugar, there is certainly value for EVERYONE in making changes to your diet and lifestyle for the better.

Darlene

More About the Blood Sugar App:

The Blood Sugar App developed by WholeLife Holistic gives users the knowledge and tools to establish and maintain healthy blood sugar levels through diet suggestions, supplement information, lifestyle recommendations, and interactive planning features. The App is a complete diet, supplement, and lifestyle toolkit for achieving blood sugar balance. The App offers much more than just advice—it aims to educate users with simple, accessible ways to manage their blood sugar, based on leading scientific research. Whether you have existing blood sugar concerns, or are seeking preventive measures, myWholeLife’s Blood Sugar App will help you apply the latest scientific research on diet, supplements, and healthy lifestyle choices to achieve your optimum daily balance.

Key Features:

  • Nutritional guide based on the latest scientific research, featuring blood sugar-friendly foods, supplements, and lifestyle suggestions.
  • Foods to avoid and ‘healthy swap’ suggestions to fit your current lifestyle.
  • Complete 7-day meal plan featuring 21 recipes, including snacks and beverages, using simple, everyday whole food ingredients.
  • Create, store, and print customized shopping lists.

Learn more, or download for iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch