My Diabetes Journey

[I wrote this article for HMSA’s Island Scene magazine. It won’t be published until Oct., so I was given permission to post an advance copy, here. Mahalo Lisa!]

On Feb. 10, I went to the doctor’s complaining about shingles which had lingered since the previous Nov. Physician’s Assistant (PA) Shey puzzled over why the infection had not gone away for months. The prescribed medications should have done the job.

She pored over my medical records looking for a clue, checking my age, 63, weight, asked about family with diabetes (my dad), my nationality (Portuguese, Chinese, Hawaiian English and Swedish). I was right in the middle of the diabetes bullseye!

After a quick blood test, she announced that I had Type 2 Diabetes. My blood glucose was at 170 and my A1C was 7.6. A followup 10 days later confirmed it.

I got marching orders: Watch what you eat, limit carbohydrate intake to 130 grams a day or less, cut the sugar, and exercise. At 5’10” and 263 lbs. I needed to lose 20 percent of my body weight (52 lbs.), rounding off to a target of 210 lbs.

I swore to the PA that I would attack this problem and come back a different person. My next appointment was in three months. “We’ll see,” was the answer. Challenge accepted.

I picked up the diabetes medication and blood glucose testing supplies. Then I headed straight to the bookstore and purchased two books on diabetes.

iPhone health apps

I jumped onto the iPhone app store and shopped for diet and diabetes apps, settling on MyFitnessPal by Under Armor for diet tracking, One Drop for diabetes information and tracking and Nike Running to track my exercise. All of these apps feed into Appleʻs Health app where I daily enter my weight, blood pressure, and blood glucose and can view a health dashboard with all my vital information. I had been wearing a FitBit Charge for a while, but in November got an Apple Watch. Both of these devices track your heart rate and help track your steps and exercise.*

Apple Health app

Apple Health app

MyFitnessPal has full nutritional information on over 5 million foods and meals, including many Hawai‘i restaurants (Zippy’s) and favorites (squid lū‘au, kalua pig, poi, lomi salmon, laulau, poke). One Drop keeps track of my blood glucose readings, logs all walking and exercise and pulls info from MyFitnessPal about carbohydrate intake. And Nike Running uses my phone’s built-in GPS to track my walks.

Then I went for a three-mile walk, posting the result on Facebook, along with my commitment. And I kept going, walking a few miles nearly every day, and logging everything I ate in the MyFitnessPal app, logging my weight, blood pressure, and blood glucose every morning when I woke up.

Three months later, I returned to the doctor’s. They took my weight, blood pressure, and drew blood for the A1C test. Several minutes later, PA Shey entered the room, beaming: Blaine, that’s incredible! Your blood pressure, cholesterol and A1C are all NORMAL!

May 10, 2016 Facebook post

From Facebook, May 10, 2016: Three months ago, Feb. 10, I got the news. You have Type II diabetes and are classified obese. A1C 7.6, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. Lose 20% of your 263 lbs. body weight, or else. Checkup today, May 10, A1C 5.5 (normal), weight down 36 lbs. (15% of body weight, 227 lbs.), cholesterol normal, blood pressure normal. *BAM!* That’s a mic drop! And I’m still not stoppin’!


June 22, 2016 50 lbs. lost Facebook post.

Update, June 22, 2016 Facebook post: Feb. 20, 2016, 263 lbs. Jun. 22, 2016, 213 lbs. That’s 50 lbs. down in four months! Wooo hooooo! But I”m not done, yet! 😀


July 10, 2016, 53 lbs. lost.

Update, July 10, 2016, Facebook post: Milestone! Feb. 20, 2016 I was ordered to lose 20% of my 263 lbs. body weight. Today, Jul. 10, 2016, I weighed in at 210 lbs., 53 lbs lost, and bullseye! But I’m not stoppin’!!!

Update, Aug. 7, 2016: Hit 205, today, 58 lbs down! Hope to hit 203 by next week when I’m supposed to meet with P.A. Shey for my 6 month checkup!

Update, Jan. 17, 2017: Hit 187, today, down 76 lbs. since Feb. 2016!


Couple of nice quotes from friends of mine. Totally agree:

Brian Dote “More important than the will to win is the will to prepare.”
Lance Kimura recently, Ive been telling students: Its not just what they are willing to do to be successful, but what they are willing to give up.

*Many of the apps mentioned in the article are available or have similar counterparts on Android. Search your phone’s app store.

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