“I’m not alone.” Paris man shares his experience with diabetes

John Holley has spent the last 46 years living with and managing his Type I diabetes. (WTHI Photo)
John Holley has spent the last 46 years living with and managing his Type I diabetes. (WTHI Photo)

PARIS, Ill. (WTHI) – Monday November 14th is “World Diabetes Day”.

It falls within November, which is “Diabetes Awareness Month”.

Most people probably know someone who lives with diabetes.

This makes sense, considering around 29 million people in the US live with the disease.

That’s about one out of every eleven people.

Diabetes is also a leading cause of death in the United States.

That’s why this month is so important.

Diabetes is a manageable disease.

But, if one in four people are unaware they have it and haven’t visited a doctor, they can’t start properly treating it.

That’s where John Holley comes in.

Holley was just shy of ten-years-old when he found out he had Type I Diabetes.

He says, “I remember being very depressed about it because they tell you, you have to take an injection every single day for the rest of your life. As a child that was very traumatic for me. But I’ve done that, and here I am today.”

Holley has spent the last 46 years living with and managing the disease.

He recalls, “It used to be an immediate death sentence. The average life expectancy when I was diagnosed was between 18 & 1/2 to 25 years. That’s not the case anymore. People can live very close to a normal life span even with diabetes. It takes care. It takes attention to the disease.”

Holley has successfully managed his diabetes so long, he’s been honored a few times.

One of those achievements include a 25-year Lilly Diabetes Journey Award,

Holley was diagnosed in the 70’s, when the recommendation was to boil a glass syringe between uses.

So, a lot has changed since then.

Holley says, “People are better able to take care of themselves because we have better tools. What technology has provided us that didn’t exist in 1970, the 80’s, or even in the 90’s. But the tools now are better, and so we can maintain that balance a lot easier.”

But to work on that balance, you have to be diagnosed.

Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator with Paris Community Hospital, Family Medical Center, Leighsa Cornwell says there a few things to keep an eye out for.

She says, “Cardinal signs of high blood sugar may be fatigue, being extremely thirsty all the time, having to go to the bathroom frequently, and also some blurry vision. But many people don’t have any signs or symptoms, so that’s why it’s important to go to your physician to get your blood work checked yearly.”

For those with diabetes, Holley urges to seek out others who have the disease.

He says social media is a great way to do so.

Holley says, “People can share, ‘Well this worked for me, this doesn’t work for me, and how it affects them.’ There’s a diabetes singles group. There’s groups for diabetes women that are pregnant. Each has its own specialty niche. But, it is a way to keep in touch with people to say, ‘I’m not alone.'”

Paris Community Hospital is hosting an event this Wednesday to educate the public on diabetes.

It’s called, “No Sugarcoating…The Simple Truths About Diabetes Management and Medications.”

The presenter will be Dr. Edward Rico, who will start his work at the hospital as an endocrinologist come December.

To register for the class, call 217-465-2606 (or toll free 1-866-465- 4141), Ext. 228.

If you’re looking to consult with a doctor from Paris Community Hospital about having diabetes or pre-diabetes, click here.

For more general information about diabetes, check out this link from Paris Community Hospital, or this one from the American Diabetes Association.