BRAD'S STORY - "HALF THE MAN I USED TO BE"
The above is my "Before" and "After" picture. I weighed about 250 lbs. in the before shot. It was probably the last one I had taken with a regular lens before I ballooned up to 320 lbs. and they had to switch to aerial photos. In the after picture I weighed 150 lbs., which is about what I weigh now. It was taken years ago when I was sporting the "Justin Bieber" haircut long before he was born. I am now literally, half the man I used to be!
Everyone with diabetes has their story and mine is perhaps a little more unusual than most. I have Type 1 diabetes (formerly called 'juvenile-onset' or 'insulin-dependent') and was diagnosed as an adult in my twenties. What makes the story more unusual is that I was diagnosed AFTER I had lost 150 pounds, stopped smoking, exercised like a maniac, and ate only the healthiest of foods. Three years after what I considered a major life change for the better in regards to my weight and health, I became diabetic.
Like most people with Type 1 diabetes I remember how I felt before I got the diagnosis because the symptoms come on quickly and dramatically. The thirst was the main thing, I simply could not drink enough water. Literally gallons. Followed, of course, by having to pee like a dog in a fire hydrant factory. It was while in Greeley, Colorado shooting a television pilot that I started to think that this might be really serious. As soon as I landed back in Los Angeles I headed straight for my doctor. When he told me that I had diabetes I said, "But I haven't eaten sugar in years!" Yes, I was that clueless about the disease. I actually thought eating too much sugar was the reason someone gets diabetes. I grimace now when I hear other clueless (non-diabetic) people say moronic things like that. Being diagnosed with diabetes I kind of went through something similar to the 7 stages of grief, but instead of "shock, anger, denial...." mine was more like the 7 Dwarfs "Sleepy, Doc, Dopey..." I asked my doctor if my getting diabetes was a result of changing my life and weight so dramatically and he speculated that it did not. If anything that might have delayed the inevitable. Type 1 diabetes is in my family and I was genetically predisposed to get it. It's like winning some kind of really bad lottery.
Sitting in his office trying to process the news, I flashed back on what my unhealthy life had been up until that point. It started early in life, about the age of seven according to my school pictures. Mine showed a steady and ever growing little boy who went from husky, to chubby, to full blown fat in a few short years. Yup, I was the fat kid. Tubby. Fatso. Fatty, fatty, 2 X 4…even though I could always fit through the kitchen door and that was the main problem. Such was my fate growing up and I blame no one but myself and my appetite. It wasn’t glandular, it was McDonaldsular and Twinkieular and Coca-colaular. Of course I was put on every diet that came out and like most people I would lose-lose-lose until I ran out of willpower (usually about a month into it) and then gain-gain-gain. I put the “Yo” in Yo-Yo dieting.
Being a kid is hard enough, but being a fat kid can be torture. However, I developed a “personality” that no doubt lead me into the life of standup comedy. I quickly cast myself in the lead role of class clown and used my wit to my advantage. I may have been the fattest kid in the school, but I was also the fastest kid with a good line. There were no “tears of the clown” in my case and I managed to have a fairly normal upbringing.
Flash ahead to years later when I decided to make the big move from Michigan to Hollywood, California. Only a few remember me as a corpulent newbie comic out here and that’s a good thing because like most funny people who come to Hollywood to be a star they soon find out how much funnier everyone else is. It also dawned on me real quick that although looking like a cow in Michigan was poetic and fitting, it didn’t work out here, especially when I wanted to hang out at the beach and people stared at just how much I was hanging out. It was here in California that I decided to change my eating habits. A couple of friends were into eating organic and healthy food so I jumped on that trend, but found it to be a different kind of diet. Soon weight just started dropping like calls on a cheap cellphone. What was different about this diet is that I didn’t need the usual willpower like on previous diets. The more I ate the natural whole foods the more I craved them. The thought of donuts disgusted me and all the other junk food I used to worship didn’t interest me at all. It really was, for me anyway, that easy. Within a year and a half I lost over 150 pounds and I have kept it off ever since.
So here I am now, still eating fairly healthy, still thin, and still diabetic. I try to do the best I can and have an excellent team of doctors who help me do that. But I realize I am the skipper of this wonky pancreas ship and must be the one who works hard to try to control it. Most days I do, but I'm human. I've also met a lot of other people with diabetes, both online and in real life, who make me realize I am not alone with this disease. None of us are and help is always a few mouse clicks away.
When my good friend, actor and comedian, Bill Kirchenbauer was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes we decided to do something to help raise diabetes awareness and contribute what we could to helping others. That is how Captain Glucose & Meter Boy: The Diabetes Duo started. So no, I'm not really a diabetes superhero...but I play one on TV.