Julian Manyhides encourages people to take diabetes seriously at conference

Char-Koosta News

POLSON — It was a snowy New Years Eve in 2001 when Julian Manyhides said he experienced chest pains while watching a movie at a theater in Cut Bank, Montana. “I thought I had heart burn,” he recalled. “I took a an antacid and when nothing changed my wife drove me to the hospital.”

Manyhides was treated and given a blood analysis test. He said the results were shocking. “The doctor told me that my blood sugar levels were 800 and my triglyceride levels were 8,000. That’s off the charts. I was experiencing a minor heart attack,” he said.

After being transported by ambulance to another hospital in Great Falls, Manyhides said he was shown a vile of his own blood. “The doctor showed me my blood sample,” he recalled. “There was an inch of fat on top of the blood. A quarter of the sample was fat. I could have gone into diabetic coma. I was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.”

According to Webster’s Dictionary, diabetes is a disease that “impacts the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in blood and urine.” The disease is managed through medication and lifestyle changes. 

During Tribal Health’s ‘Diabetes Awareness’ conference, Manyhides and his wife Natalie discussed how his diagnosis impacted their lives. “You would have thought it would have changed my lifestyle but it didn’t,” he said. “I go to dialysis three days a week and it’s draining. The doctor said I most likely won’t be able to produce urine within a few years because of my kidneys.”

Kidney failure is one of many complications that can result from improper management of diabetes. Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Mary Shick provided a seminar on Diabetes Education. “When you are diabetic, too much or too little sugar can cause damage to other organs,” she said. “If you manage your sugars, you can live to be 90 with diabetes. This doesn’t have to happen.”

Shick encouraged the audience to work with healthcare specialists to develop a diabetes care plan. “You have control, you are not alone, and you need a plan,” she said. “We have several people on our staff that can support you from diabetes specialists to an in house nutritionist. Take advantage of the services available to support you.”

Serving as Manyhide’s primary support, his wife Natalie said her wake up moment came when she brought him to an emergency doctor visit in Missoula due to improper care of his condition. “The doctor told him: ‘Whether you live or die is up to you,’ ” she said. “He said: ‘I can give you all the medication and information you need to take care of yourself but ultimately it’s up to you whether or not you’re going to use it.’ ” 

Reflecting on his experience, Manyhides encouraged the audience to take diabetes seriously. “We need to get honest with ourselves and our loved ones about how serious diabetes really is,” he said. “We are ill and a lot of times we are in denial about our illness. Ignoring the problem won’t make it better. In fact, it will make it worse.”

“Don’t take life for granted.”

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