COVER STORY

Changing the game

Health Transformations: Arnold Feliciano


Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 8:31 a.m.

It was a Sunday morning, Sept. 9, 2012. I awoke at 7 a.m., wanting to check out the late ball scores from Saturday night's west coast games.

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The Gainesville Sun sports editor Arnold Feliciano exercises near his home.

Brad McClenny

I turned on the television and reached into the nightstand drawer for my glasses.

I must have grabbed an old pair, because the television screen was blurry. Couldn't make out a thing. My distance vision had been fine fewer than eight hours earlier. Hmm, was it time to schedule an eye test?

Later that day, more symptoms: Excessive thirst and frequent urination. Checking out the symptoms on WebMD.com strengthened my suspicion that I had Type 2 diabetes.

Several days later came the confirmation with a visit to my primary care physician.

My blood sugar level was so high, my doctor considered admitting me to the hospital.

“I would be in a diabetic coma if it was me,” he said.

The plan was for medication, a diet change and an exercise program to cope with the disease.

“You did this to yourself by making poor decisions,” my doctor said. “You can change it by making better choices.”

A diet that included up to four cans of soda a day, sugary breakfast cereal just about every morning and nighttime cookie snacks coupled with a sedentary lifestyle helped put 262 pounds on my 6-foot-1 frame. Being the sports editor of The Gainesville Sun keeps me seated behind a computer about nine-to-10 hours a day, and a lot of meals were purchased at the area's fast-food establishments.

Although I had access to local hospitals and clinics with experts ready to help those with Type 2 diabetes, I wanted to handle the regimen myself. After all, I had caused it with poor choices. I was determined to lose weight and get off the medication. The willpower was fueled by the desire to grow old with my wife and see our two children grow well into adulthood.

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