“Team Diabetes saved my life,” my friend Harry Flint will tell you, and that’s why he is so committed to the cause. He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2001 and it was an immediate wakeup call that had him changing habits.
He joined Team Diabetes, a group of people who run marathons, half marathons, and go on epic hikes around the world raising money and awareness for the 1 in 3 Canadians living with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
“This was all part of introducing a healthier lifestyle into my life,” says Harry. “I shed more than 100 lbs since getting into running and I’m now able to exercise without gasping.”
Harry has competed in more than 30 events for Team Diabetes, has raised well over $100 000 for Diabetes Canada, and in 2016 was named to the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award.
While Harry has accomplished much greatness for himself and for diabetes awareness, he has by no means beaten this thing. He still sees his endocrinologist quarterly, he takes medication to help control his diabetes, and keeping a healthy, active lifestyle is still a daily goal.
Diabetes is chronic. With good habits and strong commitment, you can control the illness, but you can never really beat it. Diabetes, once with you, is always with you – and it’s a gateway to so many other health issues.
TYPE 2 DIABETES AND KIDNEY DISEASE
From amputations to heart problems, blindness to kidney disease, diabetes brings a whole crew of other complications with it.
If you’re living with type 2 diabetes you need to talk to your doctor about kidney health and screening for kidney disease. To help you get started, you can assess your personal risk factors by taking an assessment quiz at kidney.ca/risk
It’s a simple series of questions that measure you against high risk factors for kidney disease. From family history to current habits to genetics, you just answer yes or no and your risk for kidney disease can be calculated quickly.
An estimated 3.5 million Canadians are currently living with diabetes , and as many as 50% of people with diabetes may show signs of kidney damage.
Kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes can start slowly and progress over a number of years – people might not experience any symptoms in the early stages. They may have serious kidney damage without being aware of it, as it usually does not cause noticeable symptoms until about 75% or more of kidney function is lost.
Kidneys remove waste and excess fluids from the body. They regulate the balance of fluids, salt, potassium, and other minerals necessary for good health. They also release hormones to regulate blood pressure, and red blood cell production.
If you have type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease, your diabetes medication may not be as effective. If you have diabetes, you should be tested at least once a year to see if diabetes has damaged your kidneys.
TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT YOUR RISK
Unfortunately, few people with type 2 diabetes are talking to their physicians about kidney health. Research shows nearly half of Canadians aren’t having these conversations with their doctors.
I took the test, and apart from being a little overweight, I’m clean on risk factors. Once I ramp up my Team Diabetes training for my next event, I’ll be back in the clear.
I don’t have type 2 diabetes, but being on Team Diabetes, surrounded by people like Harry, keeps me inspired to stay active and aware about my health.
A weight loss of even 5-10% of weight can have tremendous health benefits. Getting regular exercise and following a healthy eating plan can help maintain a healthy weight. Speak to your doctor or a registered dietitian about a healthy eating plan that is right for you – and maybe even join us on Team Diabetes!
Harry is an inspiration to me from his work with Diabetes Canada. He has inspired me to up my commitment to the cause to raise awareness and funds to fight the disease. And with this information coming to light about the connection between kidney disease and diabetes, I’m having a conversation with my friend to make sure he’s having a conversation with his doctor.
Living with diabetes is a team effort. From emotional support and friendship to conversations about health and habits, it takes an entire crew to get through the minefield.
TAKE THE RISK ASSESSMENT QUIZ
If you’re living with diabetes, please take the quick quiz to assess your risk for kidney disease. If you have a loved one living with diabetes, please make sure they take the quiz and are having kidney conversations with their physician.
Have a chat with the people in your life about health. Help raise some awareness about diabetes and kidney disease. And then let’s do something about it.
This article has been sponsored by the Boehringer Ingelheim-Lilly Canada Diabetes Alliance, but the opinions shared are my own.
Dad. Broadcaster. Writer.
Three time Guinness World Record Holder.
I run the world for Team Diabetes.