Sitting at home one night, Tom McCrea noticed a small sore on his foot. His dad had foot ulcers due to type 2 diabetes and eventually lost part of his foot, so Tom began to worry. “I also have type 2 diabetes. I didn’t sleep at all that night.” The next morning, he went to see his doctor. The sore wasn’t an ulcer caused by type 2 diabetes, but Tom’s proactive approach to managing his diabetes keeps him healthy.
“You’ve got to stay on top of things. I’m my own advocate,” he says. “If I don’t do it, no one else is going to do it for me.”
Tom’s grandmother also had diabetes, and so does his mother. So, when he was diagnosed six years ago, he took the disease seriously right from the beginning. He enrolled in Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula’s Diabetes Self-Management Series, started taking classes, joined a support group, and meets with his dietitian every few months. “I ask a lot of questions, the instructors explain how to eat smarter and keep you motivated. In this community, there are people who can help you out.”
Tom learned that he didn’t need to change everything to get healthier, he just needed to make better choices. “I stopped eating so much junk and buy healthier foods instead.“ At family gatherings, he sticks to high-protein choices and eats smaller portions. An app on his phone, My Fitness Pal, helps him track his food and count calories. “I might have a small piece of pie. If you don’t ever indulge, you might end up binge eating. You’ve got to figure out what works for you.”
He also walks three to four miles every day, taking along his young nieces and nephews. “I explain to them that diabetes is genetic and they could get it, too, if they don’t eat right.” A FitBit helps keep him motivated to take more steps every day. Small everyday changes helped Tom lose nearly 60 pounds and drop his A1C score from 7% to 5.7%. “I was taken off Metformin over the last few months because my blood sugars have been really good.”
It hasn’t all been easy, however. Tom needed a hip replacement in 2019, so couldn’t do as much walking for a while. He developed diabetic ulcers and gained back some of the weight he had lost. The wound care team at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula helped take care of his feet, and Tom kept his eye on his goals. He knew that if he lost the weight before, he could do it again. “If I get knocked back, it just helps me remember that I can’t quit. You’ve got to prepare for setbacks and learn from them.”
Getting back on track wasn’t hard, he says. “It’s just a matter of eating a little healthier and getting some exercise. It doesn’t take much but it makes a big difference.”