Local News

Life-Altering Diagnosis Forces Doctor To Take Own Advice

Posted July 26, 2002

— A life-altering diagnosis forced one doctor take a healthy dose of his own medicine.

Dr. Harold Pillsbury is used to treating patients and not being one, but that changed last October when the University of North Carolina surgeon was told he had type 2 diabetes.

"I was pretty scared. I didn't want the three big complications to occur to me -- blindness, kidney failure and amputation," he said.

Pillsbury weighed 221 pounds. His doctor told him to drop 60 pounds.

"I thought, 'Man, I haven't weighed 160 since I was 12. How can you do this to me?'" he said.

Pillsbury started exercising, keeping track of every single step. Every day, Pillsbury uses his personal experience to try and motivate patients to take an active role in their health, but it is something not everyone wants to hear.

"When I tell them what I did, some of them get a glassy-eyed look because it's not something they'd be willing to do," he said. "It's not easy to maintain the discipline to push away from food that you love to eat."

Pillsbury also challenges other doctors to practice what they preach.

"It's like a cobbler and his shoes. You want to know what to do. The cobbler will tell you, 'Oh, you've got to get new soles on those shoes and you look at his shoes and they have a big hole in them,'" he said.

Pillsbury said his studies showed 75 percent of people with type 2 diabetes do not think they will have any of the complications such as blindness or amputation, but 60 percent of them do.

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