banner
Health Team

'Mr. Diabetes' Spreads Information About Disease

Posted May 3, 2007

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— Diabetes affects 22 million Americans, and many more are unaware they have it. So, one man is on a cross-country crusade to raise awareness about the dangers of the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S.

Andy Mandell, who often is mistaken for wrestler Hulk Hogan because of his physical size, long gray hair and moustache, calls himself Mr. Diabetes. He and his Defeat Diabetes Foundation support team left Mandell's home state of Florida in January 2002 and have traveled more than 8,000 miles in 30 states since then, receiving numerous city proclamations and talking publicly about diabetes.

"There's no vacation from diabetes. It's 24/7, and it's a life sentence," said Mandell, who was diagnosed with the disease in 1985 at age 40.

Ninety-five percent of diabetes cases are Type 2, or adult-onset diabetes. The disease is a major risk factor for other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and many cancers.

Mandell stresses that diabetes is preventable, but it catches most people by surprise.

"People don't know what the risk factors are and the early warning signs," he said, noting that he had a family history of diabetes but ignored risk factors like a sedentary lifestyle and excess weight.

Some key warning signs are frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatique, numbness in the hands and feet and slow healing cuts or bruises. Many people have the symptoms several years before they're diagnosed.

"That's how insidious diabetes is," he said.

One of the complications of diabetes is neuropathy, where the smallest blood vessels in the hands and feet tend to break down. Mandell walks with a walking pole because of the numbness in his legs.

He's also had surgery to correct impaired vision due to retinopathy.

Exercise, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and good medical care keeps Mandell healthy and moving toward his 10,300-mile goal. He's said he walks for awareness and isn't raising money for a cure.

"There is no cure. Forget about it. It ain't happening," he said. "We have to take responsibility for our own lives, and we can prevent this on our own. We can profile who's at risk for developing it, and we can change the outcome."

5 Comments

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • give it a chance May 4, 2007

    good story

  • THE ETERNAL May 4, 2007

    WE CERTAINLY MUST TAKE RESONSIBILITY FOR OUR OWN HEALTH. EAT NATURAL ORGANIC WHOLE FOODS.THAT ALONE WOULD GREATLY IMPROVE ALL HEALTH. WE CERTAINLY SHOULD AVOID ALL ARTIFICIAL ANYTHING IN OUR FOOD AND ALL MAN-MADE DRUGS. IN SPITE OF WHAT THE FDA SAYS, ALL ARTIFICIAL PRODUCTS ARE NOT SAFE FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.

  • Mr. T May 4, 2007

    Borderline diabetes is like being a little pregnant, believe me I'm diabetic and just went thru heart surgery in March. Since then, I walk every day and changed my eating habits drastically, as a result, I have lost 32 pounds and believe it or not (hard coming from a man) I do feel better.

  • CestLaVie May 4, 2007

    and limited lifestyle choices (didn't realize the last part was going to cut off).

  • CestLaVie May 4, 2007

    My husband, who has eaten what he wanted for approx. 55 years of his life, was told yesterday at a doctor's office that he was "borderline" diabetic. It was a very rude awakening for him. He was told to cut back on carbs, so last night we had a long discussion as to why I had been doing this already for a long time. We looked at food labels & discussed sodium & carb content & fiber's effect. While I've tried to watch my type of food intake and exercised for a long time, I wondered if his bad habits would ever catch up with him - they have. No more high-test cokes, sugar in coffee, french fries, biscuits, white rice, cookies, candy-all the mainstays of a southern diet. Thank goodness he's ready to make the changes; he could be pigheaded & not want to, like so many who are denying these facts. He's now getting an inkling of my philosophy-watch these things now, so that our retirement yrs are healthier, active ones rather than be overloaded with sickness, huge meds expenses, & limite