The last thing you want for your wedding anniversary is a medical emergency, but that’s exactly what Tony Essex got. After days of trying to ignore frequent urination and blurry vision, Essex and his wife took a detour to a hospital emergency room while on a trip to celebrate their 28th anniversary.
Turns out Essex was experiencing some sneaky signs of diabetes that often go unnoticed. He left the hospital with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes but little other information. So he contacted his primary care physician for educational materials. That’s when he first learned about diabetes education and connected with a diabetes educator.
Essex’s wife, Arnesha, provided him with invaluable support, joining him for private and group diabetes education classes once a month. The couple learned details about how to manage their diabetes, including when and how often to test his blood sugar levels, and got advice about how to implement important daily choices that improved her health as well as his. Some of these choices included eating early in the morning and remembering to be active at night before bed. The pair also picked up tips on how to cook better, which resulted in each of them losing eight pant sizes – and more than 100 pounds combined. His diabetes education has been so successful that Essex has been off insulin and all diabetes medication since March 2014.
Staying positive and focusing on diabetes education also helped Essex cope with the depression, stress and poor eating that developed after the couple’s son died in 2010.
Now he’s sharing what he’s learned with other patients with diabetes at the local hospital.
“The best thing that ever happened to me was the day I walked into my first diabetes education class,” Essex said. He still sees his educator, and urges anyone with diabetes to take advantage of this resource.
“It will change not only your life, but it will affect everyone around you,” he said. “I’m a living witness.”