Articles, Blog

Diabetes: Back From The Brink

September 19, 2019


We just finished church, Mum.
Happy Mothers Day When Mum was alive, whatever
she said, she was the boss. But when she died, I
became the boss. I wanted to get cremated
and get my ashes… thrown on top of Mum. Put a rose and I’ll come
back as rose each year. You look at your lifestyle and your food. I’m down from three pig heads,
down to one pig head. And the blood still reads the same. Go away fly I’m not dead yet. Narator: Boxer is in the late stages of
Type 2 Diabetes. I went to the doctors
ten years before. They told me that I
had diabetes. I have to do certain things
even though I don’t like it. I do it in such a way that I don’t
take time off to do it. If you take time off to
go and do it… That’s dumb – you won’t do it. But if you’re sitting watching TV, stand up behind your seat,
pump it up… And when you get tired,
pull the seat back and quickly sit down before
you fall down. Narrator: Ten years ago, Boxer
was in a bad way. He was nearly blind. His kidneys were failing. His legs had turned black and
were about to be amputated. He had to make a change. If somebody told me that
I would be like this now, I couldn’t believe it. But you had to walk that road first
and you got to the end. Narrator: Paul Haiter is lucky to be alive. He’s had Type 2 Diabetes
for 26 years. I was 165kgs,
fat and lazy… and didn’t want to
walk anywhere. They said I should have been dead. Even after that I didn’t
believe that I had it. I just thought that I’d get over this. This use to be as far as I could go. But today I think I can
make it to the top. I’ve had my children
on my back and telling me to do it properly,
for a while now. Hopefully I won’t fall
off and do the wrong things again. Narrator: When Paul’s wife died,
he became depressed. He put on so much weight, he
couldn’t stand up on his own. No wonder I live here, look at
the beautiful scenery. (sings) Looks like I made it. It’s great to get up here. I think about my wife, I think about all my family. And how they all believe in me. You have to understand what he’s
trying to deal with in his mind. I saw it kick him in the shins a bit,
like he’s failing. Doubt and fear, his favorite
word was ‘I can’t.’ His moods would be up and down a lot. You could see him suffering emotionally. You could see him frustrated with himself for doing it. But he just couldn’t get out of that hole. I was a band player, I played in bands. I worked during the day and played
from 7pm till 1:30am. And went home, slept for three hours
and went back to work. There’s no work in the country.
You have to send your kids away. Six of my boys live in Australia
and work there. And my one daughter, she stays
in our house in Otara. The only problem I have is
with the European dietician. I said, I don’t eat your food,
I don’t go near it. I said get me all my Maori food, that’s it. Tell me how much kina, mussels,
paua and crayfish I can eat. That’s the food I eat. She said, “I haven’t done
a study on that.” I said, “Well, I’m a Maori,” Like a Chinese ethnic, you
can’t say, “No more rice.” I eat Maori bread, fried bread,
all the bread you can eat. This is what I had for
tea (dinner) last night. The whole thing, but
with the head. Our national diet – fried bread. On the Marae this on the
table all of the time. You’re allowed to eat three,
but not 20 of them… otherwise you’ll end up in
a wheelchair, minus a leg. Everything in moderation eh. We’d like to be healthier but
it’s more flavor I think. It’s after-function kai for the people
and for the players. Every Hui (social meeting) up here is a
cultural thing of having a kai (food) at the same time. I’m testing my bloods to find
the level of sugar in my body. I do it three times a day.
It just has to be done. If I don’t do that then it could lead
to kidney damage or limb loss. 9.8… it must be nearly lunch time. Before it was always high and
I had no real control. I didn’t know how much insulin
I was supposed to take. Until I moved home, and I
decided to change my life. When I was in Auckland I
wanted to come home. To be with wairua (spirit) up here. The peace, quiet and serenity.
It’s magic up here. It did a lot for my mind.
It means that I’m at peace. I hate lettuce but I have to eat it. Narrator: In an effort to turn Paul’s life around. His daughter, Letitia and her husband moved up North with him. Are you making lunch Dad? Yep. What are you having? Just this. Where’s the cucumber? When we first moved home
I made all the sandwiches, to make sure he got
all his nutrition in. Now four months in to it,
he has to make his own. I’m eating healthy now and
it’s not really a burden. When we go into town, I still see
Dad wanting to sneak stuff. Pies and deep fried stuff. I just sometimes can’t control the urge. I use to get really worked up about it
because we sacrificed so much to come home and to help him everyday. I’m just trying to encourage him rather than
getting on his back about making a wrong choice. I encourage him to make a better choice. It was a big decision for my husband
and I to move back to the wop wops (countryside). In Auckland, I couldn’t give
everything I could to him, because I was always working. Everything that I’ve seen since being
home has reassured me that it was the best decision we’ve made. Prays: Heavenly Father, we’re truly
grateful for this day, and especially grateful for this food. I was a hopeless diabetic… I didn’t know the outcomes
of my habits. It was pretty sad because I could have
killed myself by not doing it. He needs to live… we’ve already buried our Mum,
and don’t want to bury our Dad. He was choosing to not do
anything at that time. And to me, that wasn’t a good
enough reason. Narrator: Christina Morunga is the only
diabetes nurse for miles. 90% of people with diabetes
don’t have any symptoms. They feel fine, so why
would they worry. With diabetes you can
feel really well. So trying to explain to people that
you’ve got a condition that’s causing problems
to your organs. But they feel fine, so
how does that relate? We have a free medical
area in Hokianga. We’re able to see more people
because people will come before there’s a problem
rather than waiting for the complications of
diabetes before they seek help. Boxer was diagnosed with
diabetes some years ago when he had complications. He’s had to really work at
getting his health right. So I said to him “Well Boxer, if you don’t
do something about your diabetes you’re going to be dead
within a few years. And, you’ve got your mokopuna (grandchildren)
here and you need to be around for them.” He was really upset at that thought. So Boxer started doing stuff. He shows a way it can be done, so
he can still be healthy with his disability. This is 122kgs. 148kgs down to 122kgs, that’s a huge change. For somebody at end stage
kidney failure, you actually are very healthy. You’ve really got on top
of the diabetes. You’re organized with dialysis. I’m so impressed with you’ve
pulled through those hard times. We did have our bad times… I used to scream, yell and
throw things at him. You hung in there and
that’s awesome. To hear that you’re not long on the life support, the dialysis machine, that only
keeps you alive temporarily, really got to me. It got
that bad… I had to see someone to talk to
about what I was going through. I wanted her to get my gun
and shoot that one person, do you feel better? That’s how he talked all the time. Get the gun and shoot
me in the legs, the head. I wasn’t suicidal but the pain
was so much to tolerate. We’ve come a long way, we have. Boxer: Ka kite (see you) Paul has his bad days and
he has his good days. If he can keep his sugars
where they are there’s not much likelihood he’ll need dialysis. Christina: Kia ora (hello) Paul.
Paul: How have you been? How’ve your blood sugars been doing? Up and down, most down. Pretty good, right down to 6.7 Bit higher here, what happened Paul? I was in Auckland and
eating the wrong food. I knew I was doing it
but I couldn’t stop. And that’s why I like it here because
you don’t go to the shops. So you’re not tempted. If you carry on with your
weight reduction. You’ve lost 12kgs this year already. You are going to need less insulin. And the less insulin you have,
the less hungry you’ll be and therefore the more weight
you’ll be able to lose. You won’t get right off insulin, but
you can reduce it right down. One of my goals is to get my
insulin levels down. So I can be more active and
look after my (mokopuna) grandchildren… when they all arrive, I want
to be around for them. They lost their grandmother, so
the best thing I can do… is stay around for them. That’s the biggest motivation for me,
is to get on track. This is what I do every other night, I set his machine up and get
him ready to go on. It’s basically an artificial kidney. But the difference is yours goes 24/7 and
this only goes six hours. I dialize every second day, that
means I can carry on with normal life. I do it at night time, so I have my
day times all to myself. I’ve been dializing for six years. I’m on a waiting list for a kidney. I wasn’t on the waiting list
for the first three years of dialysis, because I was too fat and heavy
and I had complications. Then after that I had developed and learnt how to live with it
and my weight came down it came between the parameters
of having a kidney and I’ve been on the waiting list
for the last three years waiting for a kidney now. The machine is keeping me alive
and keeping me fit. I eat the right stuff and
look after myself. Keep my exercises up so
I can be strong. So when I do get a kidney
I can stand the operation. If you’re not fit then they’re
not going to operate. It’s a waste of time as
you’ll drop dead. I’m just happy to be
alive and fit. There are a lot of guys,
they are struggling. This is my newest garden
that I’ve planted, getting ready for the winter. I’ve always been big, they said it was
because I had my Dad’s genes. But I can’t use that as an excuse anymore.
I am on a healthier path. I made conscious decisions today
for my health tomorrow. I planted six and I’ve got six growing,
so I’m proud of myself. Here are our tamarillos,
Mum planted these trees red ones and orange ones. And this ruruhau, it’s a delicacy in our culture. It’s a beautiful green and
nice in boil-ups. Boil-ups aren’t that good apprently,
but if you have lean meat… and lots of greens then it’s
really good for you. In the city there are so many
takeaways and fast food outlets that make it easier not
to cook good food… or there’s no time for shopping. I just love being home and
going to my supermarket outside, and get what I need from the garden
that I’ve grown and actually had to dig so there’s some free cardio. My husband and I are doing it
because we want to have children. I don’t want to not be able
to have children… because I didn’t overcome a weakness. I just planted this garden last week. I use my Paua shell for weeding. You don’t have to bend down in this garden. You feed the plants and
they feed you. And it’s good therapy. This is Puha here, they’re growing
in amongst my lettuce seeds. That’s a good feed. And it’s not electric puha either! (laughs) This is the home orchard here. It’s got tow trees of 20 varieties
of different plums. Four lots of different pears. Six lots of feijoas and guavas. It feeds all my kids and anybody else
that think they need a lot of plums. It feeds them, it feeds our community,
our football players. Oranges, they come up here
in the winter time… and full two bags of oranges
and go off to football. It’s ridiculous you can go
into a supermarket… and pay $3 for a lettuce but
$1 for a packet of chips. That’s something that needs to change for our country. We’re struggling on a normal
household budget… to accommodate the nutritious
needs of our children. This is the barn house made like
for when all my kids come home. There’s plenty of room. I teach all my mokopuna (grandchildren) to
eat the whole range of kai. The ones that won’t eat,
they sit beside me… and you tempt them with a big ice cream. “If you eat all that then you get this,
and if you don’t eat that I’m going to give this one to the pig.” All of them tend to eat rubbish.
They all want to eat potato chips. Up here they eat what I eat,
there’s no KFC up here. We have three deep freezers,
we have a whole cow out there and half a cow in here. We’ve got roast beef, prawns, and
the wife’s ice cream in here. What’s that about ice cream? She’s got ice cream, I don’t. He goes to the Marae, and
his nurse rings me up and says, “His blood sugar
is way over above.” And I say, “He eats at the Marae.” She says, “Next time he goes to a Marae
slap a note on his forehead that says ‘Don’t feed this monkey pudding.’ So that’s what I do. How many are you going to do, 20? He’s wanting to be happier. He’s in control of his diabetes,
he’s looking after himself. He’s talking a lot more to people. It’s been small steps, he didn’t just
go from being super depressed to being magically awakened. It’s been learning and growing everyday. Even though it’s in the chair
it’s still good work. Because before he could never
get out of low chairs. He was struggling like he
was an 80-year-old man. It’s paying off. You’re doing alright, Dad. For Dad, he didn’t see what
his purpose was anymore. Or what his role was in the family. His kids take care of him and
sort everything out. And Dad gets to have nothing
to do really. So, helping him see that he
can still be our Dad. I’ve become a pin-up person, in
the hospital the poster says… ‘Keep fit the Boxer way.’ I sit in my chair when I watch TV
and I stand up and go like this. You start with little squats, hold
onto the seat for balance. And you go down a
little bit and up. And that’s life. Then you can go down without
touching the chair. And one day you find
you can reach the ground. They’re only little things,
but they’re enough. Standing on your toes. When you get tired, you
hurry back to your seat. And left your legs off the ground. You can do that anywhere. I do it in church and
at the Marae. Pull my legs and push
off the ground. Pull the heels together
and squeeze tight. Then relax. (Plays guitar) In Maoridom before they never
looked after themselves. ‘Life’s too good to worry
about looking after yourself.’ ‘In time we’re all going to die.’ I’m going to get run over
by a train that’s how I said I’m
going to die. But where I live there are
no trains here. So I’m going to live a long time. He didn’t really have any goals,
so I told him to think… of his grandchild, picture what
she’s doing in two years time. And is he there with her,
is he playing with her? He cried, because the person
he saw I believe wasn’t the man he wanted to be. But a weakness has to be mastered. You have to master your weaknesses. And it means work and dedication. And constant commitment.
And it’s great. But yeah it is hard. I’m feeling great because I’m
way ahead of what I was. I don’t have sugary foods or
drinks with sugar. Just keep off the sugar mainly.
I’m doing heaps better now. I didn’t come home to be
his personal aid. He has to do it, he’s not just
going to lie in bed all day. He has to get up and do
everything that he can. As soon as I hear him say, ‘I can’t,’
I try to understand why he thinks that he can’t
and try and help him. Because when you show them
the more that they can, then they get more and
more confident. It makes every sacrifice worthwhile
when you see him smiling. I love it. It’s the greatest feeling inside
that you can feel. It’s good Dad, have a look back and see
how much you’ve actually done.

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13 Comments

  • Reply Maria Lerenzo May 11, 2017 at 9:14 am

    I've been drinking soda and I do put sugar in my coffee, and I'm not a diabetic and I'm adopted

  • Reply custurvina peyroux October 25, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    the sandwiches he made are seriously soo delicious!!! I think the daughter should also help him by following in his footsteps!! what a humble and beautiful family..xx

  • Reply Laura Te Aho-White October 30, 2017 at 12:35 am

    Vegetable based boil-up is awesome, all veges, no meat. Everything from the garden and adding wild greens, its really good for you.

    Adding smoked pork bones without the fat would be a good way to get the classic boil-up flavor. Smoked wild pork is the leanest, and has the strongest flavor, and you don't need much.
    Our tupuna used meat as a garnish, fruit and veges made up the bulk of their diet.

  • Reply Jennifer Patterson December 19, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Maori food <3 moving back to a traditional diet has helped a lot of people I know lose weight.

  • Reply askquestionsplz April 6, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    they amputated my grandpas toes, then his feet, then below the knees, then above the knees. he kept eating whatever he wanted until the med's made him see worms crawling out of his hands and he had to wear gloves all of the time. rip grandpa.

  • Reply TheVeganBerkeleyBeauty August 21, 2018 at 12:32 am

    Stop with the processed sandwich meats. You’re going to replace your diabetes with colorectal cancer.

  • Reply Jennifer NC October 23, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    Boxer is just the cutest thing.

  • Reply Adrienne Flavell February 16, 2019 at 7:28 am

    "You feed the plants and the plants feed you" 🙂

  • Reply Kate March 5, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    LOL 9.8mmol/l is high. Type 1s would have a carb-free lunch at that result.

  • Reply yeapsystar April 15, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Wow! I'm so happy to see that these 2 men opened their eyes and that they try to do something about their type 2 diabetes! It doesn't count how slow or fast you go, it's not a contest, but what matters is that you go the way you need to go AND that you will reach your goal, no matter what!

    In july 2016 I got an acute PVD (Posterior Vitreous Detachment) in my right eye. I'm already born visually impaired (a form of Optic Nerve Dysplasia and Congenital Nystagmus and I see 25% with my left eye and 0.5% with my right eye), so well … I was totally flabbergasted that I got an acute PVD in my right eye at the age of 41 and I went to see my eye doctor with it but well … Not much can be done about it … But she also asked me if I had diabetes … "Euwhm … Well … Not that I know, I think not."
    … NOT knowing on that moment that this was a sign on the wall …

    Halfway november 2016 I started to become more tired … So well … I decided to call my GP for some bloodworks to be done. I did those at December 1 and there came out that I had a vitamin D deficiency, a slightly high cholesterol and my vasting glucose level was 13.3, which was way too high (the Dutch measure is that the vasting glucose level should be between 4 and 7), so, my GP wanted me to check my A1c and hbA1c levels again with some research of morning urine and well … Basically the results were that my A1c (vasting glucose level) was 12.6 and my hbA1c was 80 (the hbA1c should be below 52 according to Dutch messuring standards)!
    … So well … It was on 12-12-2016 that I got my diagnose type 2 diabetes … At least now I know where that acute PVD came from!

    Okay … Now, I basically had 2 options:
    Option 1: Keep living in the way I did … OR …
    Option 2: Change some things drasticly.

    With Option 1, this would have meant that I would have another PVD in my left eye soon after this happened in my right eye and finally I even would have become totally blind in my right eye within not a too long amount of time … PLUS all the other complications like neuropathy in my feet which I can't afford because I'm already visually impaired, so I need the feeling in my feet! So well … For me, ONLY Option 2 was left … And so I went to do some research … And VERY seen, I decided to get on with the low carb lifestyle.

    Luckily, I already could go to my nurse practicioner on December 13 2016 (so the day after my diagnoses) and she asked me if I needed a dietician. I said: "No, 'cause I already have found out some things on the internet about low carb lifestyle & such." and she looked at me like she saw water burning 😀 :p But usually, I'n not well friends with dieticians so I can do better do things my own way eh?

    And I also succeeded!
    On December 13 3016 I started to use the metformin medicin 1x 500mg tablet a day, I switched my lifestyle to a low carb lifestyle within 3 months, I started walking 3x week over 5km and I lost 40kg within 11 months (I was 112kg and now I'm around 73kg) … WITHOUT dietician, WITHOUT glucose meter, EVEN though my mother suddenly passed away on June 5 2017 and I had a gallbladder surgery on October 4 2017 … But I'm off the metformin medication since November 16 2017! And I'm still off the metformin medication!

    Yes, you CAN reverse type 2 diabetes … It's NOT easy, but it IS possible! And I EVEN have seen people who needed to use insulin shots that they came off of them by changing their lifestyle!

    Many hugs from the Netherlands 😉

  • Reply Mike X June 9, 2019 at 6:47 pm

    With the help ultra low carb Quorn meat replacement, veggie based keto sorted my 15 years of Type 2 Diabetes. I was in the late stages at 43. 300 units insulin a day. Bed ridden. Dying.
    Now, blood test shows hba1c below 45, from over 100 for well over a decade, no meds, no insulin.
    It's really easy once you know how.
    No carbs! No rice, bread, potato, pasta, sugar, Maltodextrin, aspartame, sucralose. Nothing with a glycaemic index above 15 with zero glycaemic load.

  • Reply hope king June 27, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    Keep trying you are doing a good job. I'm not brave enough to prick my finger! I always have someone else do it!

  • Reply Crazy Mai July 9, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    omg i want that guy to be my grandad

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