Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Offering Hope

Charles Mattocks is passionate about diabetes. Controlling diabetes, that is.

He understands that because it's difficult to live with diabetes, some people just give up and don't try to help themselves.

Mattocks understands how difficult it is to live with diabetes because this celebrity chef, author, and TV producer has type 2 diabetes himself. He was diagnosed in 2011 at the age of 38 and was determined not to let the diabetes ruin his life. At first he controlled with diet and exersise, but then when his dietary vigilance relaxed a bit too much, he went on medication. A year after getting back on the wagon, he was able to come off the medication.

"Diabetes could kill me, but being diagnosed has saved my life and put my health at the forefront," he said." But Mattocks is concerned with more than just his own health. He wants to help other people deal with their diabetes, and especially to help people not yet diagnosed with diabetes avoid ever getting that diagnosis.

He realizes that most people don't know much about diabetes and feels that if he'd known when he was a kid what he knows now about diabetes, he never would have gotten it. For that reason, he's written a children's book titled "Diabetes and Healthy Eating." He's also involved with an RVcalled "Diabetic You RV" that travels around the country and offers information and free blood glucose and foot checks for anyone interested. In addition to calling attention to diabetes with its colorful decorations, the RV is staffed with medical people who can offer help to those interested.

Currently being worked on, the RV should be back on the road in a few months.

But Mattocks' primary focus is a TV reality show that takes a small number of people with diabetes to a resort in Jamaica, where he was born, and has various diabetes experts work with them for a week. His goal is to give hope to people who are struggling, and to give the viewers of the reality show hope as well. He feels that showing real people, not actors, with type 2 struggling but eventually succeeding in taking control will inspire others to do the same.

Some episodes from the first season, produced in 2017, can be seen here. He is currently working on a second season.

Mattocks has done many things in his life so far. He's traveled around the world to see how diabetes is affecting people in other nations. India is especially hard hit. He's also been involved with cooking and had a TV show called "The Poor Chef." Before his diagnosis he published a cookbook called Eat Cheap, but Eat Well, and in 2014 the American Diabetes Association published his The Budget-Friendly Fresh and Local Diabetes Cookbook.

Like Mattocks, because I know how very inconvenient, not to mention expensive, it is to have type 2 diabetes, I would also like to do what I can to prevent others from following in my path. But it's difficult. Most people simply aren't interested. When I suggested to a sister that she test members of her family once a year so that if they had the genetic predisposition, the disease would be caught early, when it's easier to control.

Her answer: "Why worry about a disease you may never get?"

If someone in a family in which the disease has occurred several times isn't interested, what is the likelihood that the average person would be? Most people assume it will never happen to them, even when it runs in the family and even when they're overweight. So I got discouraged at trying to help people prevent the disease and have focused instead on reading about research and trying to communicate the most interesting research results through this blog.

Hence it's good that people like Mattocks, who has a lot of energy and the ability to communicate well through talks and TV shows, are still in there fighting for people who might not be able to fight on their own.

There's a vast difference in how people with type 2 diabetes are learning. At one end of the spectrum are people who get all kinds of expensive gadgets like continuous glucose monitors and fancy software, document everything they eat in a nutrition program, join online Facebook groups and exchange information with others with the same interests. At the other end are the people who get a diagnosis, get medications, and expect the medications to control their disease while they continue to eat the same unhealthy food they've always eaten and continue to avoid exercise whenever possible. Sometimes, because of the cost, they don't even take the medications. Then they get complications like having a leg amputated or losing most of their sight. Of course, most people are somewhere in the middle of these extremes, but sadly, I think most patients are closer to the latter group than to the former.

Perhaps a reality show on TV will reach some of these people. I do hope so.

Anyone wishing to learn more about Mattocks and his show can go here.


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