Larry Brinkley – Living with Diabetes

Thursday, November 18, 2010  •  Patient Stories

Larry and his wife GwenAnd this isn’t strange coming from a former FSU football player turned coach, teacher and salesman.

Larry recently found out that he was diabetic. He had been labeled borderline diabetic before that: however, when his blood sugar tested over 600 in early December, he certainly wasn’t borderline anymore.

After Larry’s diagnosis, he says, “I changed my diet drastically.” “However, I didn’t know how much or what to eat.” Larry says he was being “dynamite dumb.” “I was cutting out everything – no bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, etc.,” he says.

Larry soon learned about an American Diabetes Association certified class taught at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. “My doctor gave me a written prescription for the course so that my insurance would cover it.” It was there that he learned how to eat healthy, take care of himself and control his diabetes – the right way.

The Diabetes Self-Management Program at LRMC ensures participants know about food, meal planning and forms of sugar, how to read labels, fat facts and what to do when eating out. In addition, they receive information on types of diabetes, low and high blood glucose, ketones, emergencies and care during illness.

Participants are taught how to test their blood glucose levels, how medications affect diabetes, insulin and pills used in treating diabetes, how to give an injection and how to set goals for their glucose management. In addition, the emotional impact is addressed, along with how to travel with diabetes, good health habits including foot care and an awareness of the long-term damage that can be done to the body by diabetes.

“I went in with the attitude that I was ready to learn…to help my self,” says Larry. “They do a great job teaching what’s expected to survive and deal with this disease.”

Larry says he’s done a 180-degree turn on food. He and wife, Gwen, are trying to adhere to the things they’ve been taught in regards to eating – reading labels and searching the grocery store. “My wife is very good at helping me. She’s interested in maintaining her own blood sugar and is doing the program right along side me.”

“You have to make some serious changes and be committed,” he stresses. And committed he is. Larry’s lost about 30 pounds since November. “I have it under control right now. The rest of my life will be an acclamation process.”

And Larry has a great attitude, “You look at each day as whether you want to live or you want to die – I want to live.”

Plus, Larry enjoys looking through the closet and finding some old clothes that fit. And as for the bigger clothes, Larry says, “Maybe I’ll just keep old stuff as souvenirs to remind me where I’ve been.”