Guest Post: The ‘Betes Ain’t for Me!

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s been a bit crazy around here lately.  So thankfully a good friend of mine has been so kind as to write a guest post for me! 

Mike Swafford doesn’t have diabetes, but he has a story to tell about his efforts to avoid the Type 2 diabetes that runs in his family.  Thanks Mike! 


Hey there!  You expected to get Bethany’s wit and wisdom; you’re going to be disappointed. 

BUT WAIT!  Before you move on, Bethany asked me to be a guest blogger (my first foray into the crazy world of blogging) and as I find Bethany a pretty bright person she must have something in mind.  So while you may not trust me, trust Bethany!

To set the stage and in all openness, I do not have diabetes, and you can ask why would Bethany ask someone to post on her blog about diabetes from someone who does not have diabetes.  Seems akin to asking a person without eyes what color the sky is.

That being stated, my family has a terrible history of type 2 diabetes.  My father developed diabetes in his late 50s and made the rate among his siblings:  Diabetes 5 – No Diabetes 2.  My family controls their diabetes through medication, unfortunately one passed due to complications and his desire not to treat himself as he should (another much more morose blog post than I want to write for my first time.).

This is where Bethany’s great wisdom comes in, she mentioned it would be interesting to hear about someone who has Type 2 diabetes in their genetic code and how I’m working to avoid developing it.  (Which I understand may not work, but I’m still hopeful though diet, exercise and luck I will avoid that particular genetic ticking time bomb; however the perfect eyes (thanks mom) and straight teeth (thanks dad) I’ll take!

I travel quite a bit for work and am frequently in and out of airports.  During one of my exciting and exhilarating trips dealing with the airport screening lane I overheard a conversation of a 4 person family.  The husband was pushing his wife in a wheel chair and the children were clustered around.  The husband was explaining to the screening guard that his wife needed the chair because of the ‘betes’, he additionally added he had the ‘betes’ and would need a chair soon himself and worried the children would also develop the ‘betes’.

As I waited in line dipping into their conversation I kept asking myself, “What the heck is the ‘betes’?”  Then it struck me DIABETES.  I then looked at them from the eye of an uninformed person without diabetes and thought well they are all heavy (this is prior to reading Bethany’s blog and learning that is not a good way to decide such a thing).  Afterward we made it through security I continued to dip into the conversation of the family, actually the whole airport did as the husband was a very loud man, and heard the man complaining that the McDonalds was so far away and didn’t know if he would be able to get the children their promised treat.

I will say the thoughts that passed through my head were not nice and I’m slightly mortified I thought them, however, I did.  And that started to set my mind firing about diabetes; who I knew who had it, my general knowledge (mostly wives tales and completely erroneous), and myself.

At the time as I mentioned I travelled significantly and eating a light dinner was not really on the radar.  I managed to grow to be about 225 pounds (or 6 stone 5 for all you people who like that) I’m only 5’9”, which tells me I should weigh 170ish.  Doing the math I was about 50 pounds overweight or ten 5lbs bag of potatoes!  How do they sell bags of potatoes in Canada, by the 2.26796185kg bag?  By the way that could be great title of a relatively uninteresting book.

The next step was to figure out exactly what I needed to do.  So I visited the doctor for multiple tests, while the diabetes screening came back clean he did about have a heart attack (ironic don’t you think) from the cholesterol it was packing into my veins and arteries.  Evidently I had enough to deep fry whole chickens.

Off I started 1) to make sure I didn’t develop Type 2 diabetes and 2) reduce my cholesterol.  Of course I started out completely WRONG.  I only ate salads for about 2 weeks, and then I fell apart and reverted to the old eating habits.  Afterward I really started thinking about food and joined a weight loss group and really began to understand how to eat.  I learned more than banana=good and cookie=bad.  I picked up knowledge how to eat a healthier diet and how to deal with eating the bad food why is bad food oh so good?  There is no bad food just too much of a particular type.  I also added exercise; I had always done some sort of exercise, but nothing consistent.  So I started out slow and worked my way up, no real goal in mind other than to get healthier.

Since the airport trip I have lost a good chunk of the weight (30 lbs.) and have started running pretty consistently.  I’m running my first marathon in May.  While I’m doing everything I can to prevent the development of diabetes, if my family history says YOU WIN! I will develop Type 2 diabetes.  I go to the doctor every year and get screened.  He still is much more worried about the cholesterol; we are working on a compromise.  I also have about 20 more pounds to lose and I want to do other things that I didn’t think about in the past; perhaps running the Antarctica Marathon in 2015 (we’ll see how the first one unfolds), completing a triathlon and in June running a race in Iceland while on vacation.

We’ll see how it goes, however, it is a constant reminder when I visit my father and he has to take pills and test his blood as I watch, thinking someday I may or may not be able to avoid the pills, testing, and the many other side effects people with diabetes struggle with on a daily basis.  I’ll continue to lose weight, run and try to avoid the ‘betes’ as long as I can.


2 responses to this post.

  1. I hope you’ll write more in the future.
    Keep us up to date, and I wish you success with your weight loss and cholesterol lowering.
    Your hard work has to help!


  2. This post is kind of the opposite of me. No one in my family really has type 2 diabetes. There’s maybe an aunt or something somewhere, but it’s pretty rare. My parents were overweight, my father’s family was overweight, and so was I. Inhereited genes + lifestyle choices + addiction turned me into the diabetic I am.

    Thank you for your story, and congratulations on your first chunk of weight loss.


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