I Lost My Insurance, Stopped My Medication, and Had a Heart Attack

tadeusz-majka
Tod is slowly recovering after a serious health scare: 5 clogged arteries and open-heart surgery.
(TADEUSZ MAJKA)
My father had type 2 diabetes. When I was 27 years old, he underwent surgery for blocked carotid arteries in his neck. He had a stroke a few days after the surgery and was in a vegetative state for a year and a half until he died.

After that I began to think that maybe I wasn't invincible; I made it a priority to get a physical every year. However, I wasn't really that worried. Even though I was 300 pounds and 5'11", I didn't consider my weight a problem because I was a competitive wrestler in high school. In my opinion I took good care of myself.

However, I knew I probably ate too much. Instead of one helping, I'd have at least two, sometimes more, and there were plenty of midnight snacks. My eating habits started when I was young. My mother was Italian, so most meals were enormous plates of pasta. If I didn't clean my plate, my father would yell at me.

My life went to hell
Then about eight years ago, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes too. I had put on about 40 pounds since getting married, but I was still shocked.

At first it wasn't too hard to watch what I ate and monitor my blood sugar. I started to slip a little when my first daughter was born and I became wrapped up in caring for her. And then we had a second daughter.

Then to be honest, my life went to hell. I lost my job and my health insurance. I got two jobs to make up the pay, but one was as a temp with no benefits, and the other was full-time but with bad insurance. There was so much stress from working two jobs and supporting two children that I didn't watch what I was putting in my body. My carbohydrate intake went up and I stopped watching my glucose levels.

The biggest difference, though, was the fact that I stopped taking my medication. I was taking Avandia, but I noticed some of the side effects involved heart failure, so I stopped taking it.

My doctor gave me free samples of the oral diabetes drug metformin, which were great, but that didn't last long. When I couldn't get any more free samples, I stopped taking the medication because it was too expensive.

Next Page: "I thought I might be having a stroke"

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