PRINCETON — Living with diabetes is not an easy thing to do, according to Buck Sutliff of Princeton.
His quality of life has changed a lot since getting the disease, and it’s difficult to stay positive, the Princeton man said, adding his advise to others is to take the disease seriously and to follow the doctor’s orders.
Sutliff was first diagnosed as a borderline diabetic more than 30 years ago. But in his mind, getting a borderline diabetic diagnosis is misleading, he said.
“Being told you are borderline diabetic is like being told you are a little bit pregnant ... You either are, or you aren’t,” Sutliff said.
Maybe because he was a younger man at the time of his diagnosis, he didn’t take it as seriously as he should have, Sutliff said. He knew he was at risk of becoming diabetic because diabetes runs in his family. His maternal granddad died from diabetes, and all of his granddad’s siblings were diabetic, including Sutliff’s mother.
“I was forewarned, and I should have been more careful, but I was young and thought I was invincible,” Sutliff said. “I was also a smoker, and smoking and diabetes don’t match.”
Sutliff believes his diabetes has contributed to his other health problems, including having two strokes.
Sutliff had his first stroke on Feb. 14, 2002. Diabetes clogs the arteries, which can lead to a stroke, he said.
He had his second stroke on Aug. 14, 2012, shortly after arriving to work at the Princeton Walmart where he was a greeter. He began slurring his words and became confused. His wife, Betty, was called, but Sutliff didn’t go to the emergency room until the next day. He was then taken by ambulance to a Peoria hospital, where it was determined he had suffered a cluster of small strokes.
Sutliff said he was able to resume work about eight weeks after his stroke, but on a reduced schedule. Initially he worked 36 hours a week as a greeter, but the doctors cut that back to 12 hours a week. Since then, doctors have increased his allowed work schedule to 16 hours a week. Sutliff also continues to volunteer one day a week, several hours a day, as a Gold Coat volunteer at Perry Memorial Hospital.
Though he knows the best thing he can do for his diabetes is to get more exercise, he acknowledged that’s not an easy thing to do. He uses a walker at home, but uses a wheelchair when he goes outside the home. Most days, he feels OK, he just wears out so easily, he said.
His life has changed a lot since his early days as an air control traffic operator and then working in the family’s furniture store in Princeton. He wants to tell his story about having diabetes to encourage others to take care of themselves and to get medical help if they aren’t feeling well, he said.
“Get to the doctor, and go by the doctor’s orders,” Sutliff said.
Also, everyone with diabetes in their family history should pay especially close attention to that possibility for themselves, Sutliff said.
“A family history of diabetes should throw up the red warning flag,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to put anyone through what I’ve been through.”
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