Having A Support System: Charlton Owens’ Story

30 Jan

The following is an excerpt from a speech given by Charlton Owens at a recent YWCA event.

I’m Charlton Owens, and I’ve worked for the YWCA the past 11 years as a public safety officer. I make sure that our kids, our members, and our staff are safe.Charlton Owens

Around 5 years ago I was having health problems, and my doctor told me that I had diabetes. My blood sugar was over 600 – that’s a level that can lead to stroke, heart attack, total kidney failure, losing limbs.

I was watching TV one day and my eyes just cut off. I couldn’t see for a few hours – it was like turning off a light switch. It was my wife’s first time seeing me so scared… I remember she wiped a tear off my face. This experience gave me a good respect for people who go blind from diabetes. My doctor told me that I should join the Diabetes Wellness program at the YW.

But then my 25 year-old son died in a car accident – he left behind a daughter and an unborn son. A year and 8 months later, my wife passed away from complications due to her diabetes. We had been married 20 years.

I was grieving for my wife and son, but I knew that I had to remember that my other son and two grandkids relied on me. I started going to Diabetes Wellness meetings, and I was totally committed. I got a whole lot more active, especially after I went to the support groups and heard the horror stories from other diabetics in the program.

I would exercise before I went to work. I had to change my whole entire diet and lay off the fatty foods. Now I have a nickname at my local grocery store – “the kale man.” I eliminated sodas. My car stays parked a lot of the time. I’m 64 pounds lighter than I was the same time as last year, and my A1C level is currently 6, which is awesome.

I had a great support system right here at the YW. When you have a great support team it motivates you to get your life back on track. That’s why I go out of my way to tell people about the program, whether I’m on the clock or off the clock.

It just means that much to me because I learned a lot, and it changed my life.

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