CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - One of out every 10 Americans lives with Type 2 diabetes.
Nov. 30 marks the end of Diabetes Awareness Month. One former diabetic, Walter Davis, hopes it can be the start of a healthier lifestyle for others struggling with the disease he managed to beat.
When Davis began having trouble with his eyes three years ago, he admits he didn't see a serious health problem.
"I really didn't know what was going on, my vision got really blurred, " said Davis. "I thought maybe my vision was getting blurry since I was getting older. But then I went to the doctor and they basically told me that my blood sugar was at 590 and I almost into a diabetic coma and died."
Doctors diagnosed Davis with Type 2 diabetes, and at the time he weighed 275 pounds.
"Eating the wrong things, a lot of drinking like soda, sugar, fried foods," said David. "A lot of seasoning salt and different things like that."
That is similar to many of the foods everyday people eat.
Jane Stewart, a nurse practitioner and diabetes expert with Southeast Health breaks down who could be at risk.
"Type II diabetes is one of those medical conditions that carries a few risk factors that are important to know about but unfortunately not controllable," said Stewart. "Primarily these include age, family history, ethnic background."
"I looked at myself in the mirror and basically told myself I really need a lifestyle change," said Davis.
He has made some major changes. He replaced his soda with water, started walking on the treadmill and started eating healthier foods.
Stewart says, changing these modifiable risk factors were key in reversing the negative effects of Davis' diabetes.
Another nurse practitioner, Laurie Klipfel, specializes in diabetes and weight management explains diabetes can't be "reversed", but can be "treated". "When we say that diabetes can be prevented or reversed/cured with behavior it makes those that have to take medication despite healthy behavior feel like they are a failure or that they are doing something wrong," Klipfel explains.
Furthermore, "[regardless of weight and size], controlling blood sugar is what is most important even if medication is needed.]," Klipfel concludes.
"Diabetes can be one of those sneaky health problems that doesn't cry out for a lot of attention," Stewart said. "So routine screening is important, being aware of the symptoms is important. Don't put them off. Take care of it now. Your health is the best present you can yourself and those you love. He changed his life and truly increased his life expectancy by simply taking one step at a time to improve his health."
"It not only just helped me, but it's helped my marriage, my wife, my children," said Davis. "It's really brought us close together to really do the things we need to do as a family."