Larry Lands, 56, has had type 1 diabetes for 46 years. He hooks himself up to the dialysis machine in his bedroom every night. For exercise, he put in an Endless Pool where he swims laps against the current. It's that kind of attitude that 56-year old Larry believes has allowed him to keep his eyesight and left foot.
He was 10 years old when diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the same disease that killed Lands' father at the age of 50.
"I've worked my backside off all my life," Lands said. "I love my life. I love being here. I can tell my life story and make people laugh or tell my life story and make people cry. I prefer to make people laugh."
His Kaiser Permanente primary care physician, Dr. Paul Laderta of the Waipi'o clinic, calls Lands' case "one of the more severe cases of diabetes type 1 I've seen."
"To Larry's credit, he's also one of the best patients when it comes to managing his disease," Laderta said. "Larry is one of those patients who takes total control of his care. He has done his homework and asks the right questions. Attitude is very, very important. Patients with the best attitudes who take control of their disease do much better."
When Lands made his 50th birthday, "it was a gigantic milestone. When I was born, the average lifespan for a type 1 diabetic was about 14 years."
During the day, he stays in shape by swimming against the blast of an Endless Pool in his Royal Kunia backyard. "Diabetes crushes some people and inspires others," Lands said. "I didn't have any control over the hand that was dealt me. The only thing I could control was the way I played my hand."
Excerpted from "You Can Save Your Own Life by Taking Control of It," by Dan Nakaso, The Honolulu Adviser