BILL'S STORY: "JUST THE ONE OF ME"
The other day I was in a supermarket and someone came up to me and asked, "Aren't you the guy who starred on that TV show Just the Ten of Us? You look good...and you've lost some weight!" I'm always flattered whenever a fan recognizes me, but doubly flattered that he noticed I had lost some weight.
I've had Type 2 (non insulin dependent) diabetes for over eight years now and I can truthfully say that as serious as this disease is I can at least thank it for one thing: Making me more focused on my health. Since my diagnosis, and a few years of being delusional enough to think that it was no big deal, I have tightened the screws on my diabetes control. That has included changing how I eat, getting more exercise, and losing some poundage. Not at my goal quite yet, but I feel better now than I have in many years and the wake up call of diabetes is the major reason why. It's kind of a strange and long worded oxy-moron, but "getting sick made me healthier!"
In my estimation, prior to being diagnosed with diabetes I was in relatively good health. My childhood was about as diverse as anyone I know because my father was in the military and we moved around a lot. I attended a new school in a new town just about every year of my life up until graduation from high school. That might have been a problem for someone shy, but ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that if you look up the word "shy" in the dictionary my name would be listed as an antonym. Learning how to get new kids to like me was also a great pre-education for my future career as a comedian and actor.
Moving to Hollywood to seek my fame and fortune in the entertainment business was just another move in a long history of doing so. Before long I started getting a lot of work as a stand-up comedian and appeared on all the talk shows, including many times on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. That lead to lots of guest starring roles on television shows and eventually as a recurring character on Growing Pains with Alan Thicke. At the time I had no idea that years later I would appear in a diabetes PSA with Alan and that I would be a real life diabetic. I guess the Producers and ABC liked what I did because soon I was starring on a sit-com they created for me called Just the Ten of Us.
About 14t years ago I started to feel kind of tired all the time and noticed my vision was blurred. Finally, my doctor gave me the diagnosis that I had Type 2 diabetes. At first I was confused because even though I was a big guy I was pretty active and surely he must have made a mistake. He didn't. I wondered if it had been in my family, but since I was orphaned as baby in post war Austria and adopted by an American military couple, I never knew my real parents. Fortunately I have a couple of good friends who have diabetes and they filled me in on things I could do to get it under control. It also helped having a loving wife who read up on diabetes and became an active part of my diabetes team. I wasn't exactly what you'd call a textbook diabetic at first but when another very close Type 2 friend started getting some very serious complications I realized I needed to get this thing under control. My last visit to my endocrinologist tells me that I made the right choice and all my numbers have increased dramatically for the better.
When my friend and fellow actor and comedian Brad Slaight approached me about doing something to help the cause of diabetes we discussed many ideas. We finally decided on creating a couple of diabetes superheroes. I chose to play Captain Glucose and he would be my sidekick Meter Boy. But between you and I, I'm not really a captain and he's not been a boy for many years. Hopefully these characters will do for diabetes awareness what Smokey the Bear did for fire awareness. Our motto is "Be Your Own Personal Diabetes Superhero" and we think that everyone who has this disease and takes control of it is doing just that.