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Mark Daniels

Diabetes patient passionate about life

‘My life changed the day I was diagnosed with diabetes.’

photo of Mark DanielsMark Daniels, 44, works and plays hard. “I was one of those guys who always lived life to its fullest,” the Sartell man said. “When I worked, I worked hard; when I played and partied I did that hard, too.” That was until five years ago when Mark woke up one morning and was unable to move his left leg.

An MRI showed he had eight blood clots in his leg, and his blood sugar registered more than 700 (normal is less than 140 when not fasting). “It really was a wakeup call when they had me fill out and sign a health care directive in the emergency room,” he said. “My kids and I remember it to this day.” Mark was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. “I knew it was time to make some major changes in my life — I just hoped it wasn’t too late.”

Mark has a strong family history of diabetes. “No male on my father’s side has lived past the age of 50,” he said. “Looking back, I realize I was having symptoms of diabetes for a while and chose to ignore them.”

Mark was determined to learn all he could about diabetes and how to treat it. “I spent a lot of time reading about nutrition and exercise,” he said. “I found that I loved to cook and explored new ways to make healthy food delicious. It also was important for me to learn why I eat, what my triggers are and make a plan to combat those triggers.”

He also knew he needed exercise. “I remembered as a kid from Nebraska, how much I enjoyed biking,” he said. “I bought a bike, helmet and some biking shorts and haven’t stopped since. My blood sugar responds well to biking. I’m able to keep it under control without insulin.”

Mark attributes part of his success to his doctor and Christina Drontle, a registered dietitian from the CentraCare Diabetes Center.

“They both treated me like an individual, not like a number,” he said. “Christina helped me customize a food plan that worked best for me. She listens to me and respects my ideas and input. She often sends me links on topics she knows will interest me or recipes she thinks I’d like. I know that she really cares.”

Today, Mark is 70 pounds lighter and lives a full, healthy life. He manages to keep his blood sugar under control without insulin or medication. He has great expectations of being the first Daniels male to live past the age of 50 — and far beyond. “Before I was living to survive,” he said. “Now I’m living to thrive.”

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