River Gatensby sat down with KDFN Citizen Steven Shorty, who shared his story about overcoming type 2 diabetes. Steven wanted to tell his story in the hopes that it will inspire others suffering with type 2 diabetes to make positive changes in their lives.
Today, Friday, May 6, is National Indigenous Diabetes Awareness Day.
In 2019, Steven became suspicious that he might have diabetes while on an ice fishing trip. He noticed that he was drinking more water than usual. He recognized this as a symptom because his family has a history of diabetes.
“I started thinking about it, and I started looking at the symptoms. My tongue was always dry, I was drinking a lot more water, and I was going to the washroom more than usual… So I went to the hospital and I got my blood taken. They called me a week later, and told me to come in right away because it was serious and could have gotten a lot worse.”
The doctors at the hospital told him that his blood sugar level was high, and that meant that he had and that he needed to start getting injections of insulin in the stomach, and prescribed him metformin pills.
“There were a lot of things that I got used to growing up, like fishing, but as I got older I fell into a lifestyle,” said Steven.
Eventually, that lifestyle caught up with him.
He recalled a story about how diabetes affected his ability to play hand games. “We were getting ready to hop back on the mat, and I realised that I hadn’t eaten anything. That was the first time I felt uncontrollable. I started feeling hypo. I didn’t have enough sugar in my blood. I started shaking uncontrollably, which really scared me. So I had a pop and told my team I had to sit that one out.”
Steven explained the meaning of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. Hyper means your blood sugar is too high, and hypo means that it’s too low.
He spoke with a dietician, and received support from the Natsékhi Kų̀ Health Centre, who provided him with passes to the Canada Games Centre.
“The biggest issue was the eating. I used to eat a lot then… but, I listened to my dietician who told me how to monitor, and plan my meals to be healthier… I stopped eating all of the fatty processed food. After a month, my doctor told me that my blood sugar levels were going down.”
“At the time I was in a rough patch. I was into drugs and alcohol… I started talking to my partner, and I told her that I was going to quit. If I keep on going down this path, I’m going to have to keep fighting it… I was really scared, but she told me that she would stand by me, and that we would do it together.”
Steven credits his partner’s support as a major motivator to beating his diabetes. “I’m proud that she joined me on this journey… If she had kept on drinking, I probably would still be drinking with her.”
Then he began working out.
“I used to just go to work, go home, have a drink and sit down. Now I work out, then I go home. I started walking more. I went to the gym and started gaining muscle and losing weight at the same time. That helped me quite a bit.”
After three months, he had made enough progress that he no longer needed to take insulin. After five months, he no longer needed to take metformin.
“My doctor told me that my pancreas seemed to be working better, but I have to be vigilant of how to move forward,” he said.
“It’s a tough road to make change, but change is good. Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s good for us. When I quit everything, I made that change to better myself because I thought I was going to die.”
To prevent it from coming back Steven does things like skidooing, going to the gym, ice fishing, boating, and things that will keep him active when he’s bored.
It’s been three years, and Steven has kept up with his healthy lifestyle.