Diabetes Daily

Two Brothers Take Control of Their Type 2 – Diabetes Daily

Peter and Johnny are brothers and good friends of mine, we were lucky enough to meet through our sons. They both have type 2 diabetes, just like their dad did. Just recently, they promised each other to begin taking their health seriously – and the changes they’ve made have been inspiring. I want to share their story.

Peter was diagnosed with type 2 eight years ago, right before I was diagnosed with type 1. Over the years, Peter and I have spoken a lot about our diabetes, and it has been so nice to share information and experiences with someone who “gets it.” I remember one time, we were all at a dinner party, and my continuous glucose meter was reading 49 with an arrow down. Peter understood the severity when most wouldn’t have, and quickly ran to the waiter to get me a coke. It has been nice to have someone to talk blood sugars with, but it became bittersweet when Peter’s brother Johnny was dealt the same fate of a type 2 diagnosis.

I thought it would be great to hear from Peter about his journey and how he started to take it seriously and commit to his health. I also spoke to Johnny about his surprising diagnosis, and how he quickly took action and control of his type 2. These brothers helped motivate and encourage each other, and now both can reap the rewards of their efforts.

Peter, Allison and Johnny celebrate taking control of their diabetes and their health.

Thank you so much for taking the to speak with me today. I thought many of our readers would love to hear how you both have taken care of your health thanks to your type 2 diagnosis. Making lifestyle changes isn’t always easy, but it is well worth the journey. And what a bonus to have your brother right by your side!

It is my understanding that your father had type 2 and eventually became insulin-dependent. Did you understand a lot about the disease growing up? 

Peter: Yes, we were six kids growing up, and my brother Johnny and sister Roula would give my dad his insulin shots 2x a day. They did not come mixed back then, so we had to mix the two vials (N&R) together to give his shot.

Did your father take care of his health? 

Johnny: No, he was first diagnosed at 37 but never took care of his health or made any lifestyle changes until later in life. Unfortunately, because of this, he had a toe amputated because of low circulation. It also affected his vision. He had multiple surgeries for this, and it ultimately lead to heart disease and heart failure. We lost him on his birthday at 71.

Knowing your family history, did you pay close attention to your diet and exercise habits? 

Peter: No, I thought I was invincible and that this disease would not affect me.

At what age were you diagnosed with type 2, and what were the symptoms? 

Peter: I was diagnosed at the age of 37. I really did not have any symptoms, but I had gone for a regular checkup and my blood levels were off the charts, and my doctor sent me to a specialist. The specialist put me on medication, but I was not taking the pills as prescribed, as I felt fine and didn’t want to take any medicine. I was not testing my blood sugar at that time.

How did you manage at first, and what lifestyle changes have you made since? 

Peter: I was in total denial and really did not change anything about how I was eating or going through my day-to-day life. Once I turned 45 and understood the severity and saw how much my blood sugar was rising, I made significant lifestyle changes. I started eating healthier, more vegetables (finally eating greens!), switched my alcohol choices (low-carb beer and lower sugar drinks). I started going to the gym prior to Covid, and then turned to walking.

I understand that recently you started to monitor your blood sugar more frequently and even tried out the Freestyle Libre. What was your experience with the Libre? Did you like being able to monitor your blood sugar all the time?  

Peter: I didn’t believe it! When I saw the numbers I thought they were wrong. I did like the ability to see how what I ate affected my blood sugar immediately, but I was not ready for the Libre until I took control of my lifestyle and lost weight, the full journey to get to where I am now. I feel like it would be better for me now, as it is extremely easy.

controlling type 2 diabetes

Peter before his weight loss

Please tell us about your brother, Johnny, and his surprising diagnosis. 

Peter: My brother happened to come over to my house when I was taking my blood sugar prior to my making healthier lifestyle changes and choices. My numbers were in the mid 200’s, and I thought my glucose meter was broken. My brother said, “Take mine so we can see how it’s working.” His numbers came over double mine at 468 [mg/dL]. We definitely thought the machine was broken until my sister-in-law took her blood sugar (with no history of diabetes in her family). She was at 90. At that point, we knew the numbers were correct, and we both knew that this was the defining moment of the rest of our lives.

What was your initial reaction to this pretty shocking news?  

Johnny: I was in total disbelief – I felt like I was going to die and really took a long, hard look at the life that I wanted and made a lot of decisions on how I needed to make some dramatic life changes.

Had you had any symptoms? 

Johnny: I felt completely fine, however, my wife always said that when I didn’t eat I would be very HANGRY. Snickers commercials had nothing on me, and truthfully when my numbers get too low now, I feel exactly the same. It is something I need to continue to control, to level out my sugar levels.

What were some of the first things you did to better get control of your health and your blood sugars?  

Johnny: I immediately stopped eating all processed carbs. No bread, rice, pasta, beer, sugar, desserts, and milk. I replaced these items with Ezekiel bread, zucchini linguini, almond milk, sugar-free coffee sweetener, and condiments (sugar-free ketchup and BBQ sauce).

Johnny before and after choosing to live a healthy lifestyle.

I know you have both come a long way since you found out you had type 2 diabetes. Can you each tell us a little about your successes? 

Johnny: I was 238 lbs before my diagnosis. By changing my eating habits, exercising every day, walking 2 miles, and working out, I now weigh 194 lbs. I’ve lost two pant sizes and feel like a new person, one that will be around for my family for a long time. And my wife says I’m super sexy now.

Peter: I was 232 lbs when I was first diagnosed, and with all of the changes in my everyday lifestyle, I now weigh 186. I feel like a million dollars and realize I should have made these changes years ago. Life is too short. Make the changes now.

You both should be very proud of yourselves for turning this diagnosis into a stepping stone towards a healthier life. What would be your advice to a newly diagnosed person?  

Peter: Control it now, before it gets out of control.

Johnny: Take it seriously as this life is precious and life is worth living without complications – it only gets worse as you get older. The best part, I feel like I’m 18 again!

Thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions. I am truly impressed with how you both taken on this disease. I know your story will inspire many of our readers!



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