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Diabetes Information

-Diabetes Facts
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Type 1 Diabetes
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Type 2 Diabetes
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Gestational Diabetes
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Feline Diabetes

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(see also Blood Glucose)
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Diabetes is the No. 6 leading causes of deaths in the United States, according to 2001 data  from the United States National Center for Health Statistics.

The following article was originally posted on http://www.diabetes.com/tools/health_library/profiles/rick_mendosa.html

Rick Mendosa

Tapping the Internet's potential.

Ever wondered where on the World Wide Web you might discuss diabetes in German? Or see the chromosome where a diabetes gene is located?

Look no further than Rick Mendosa's On-Line Resources for Diabetics. Mendosa has created one of the most comprehensive and eclectic diabetes sites on the web. He reviews more than 100 websites of interest to people with diabetes, and also lists many diabetes news groups and mailing lists.

"Nothing can compare with the Internet. I got support from so many people."

Mendosa, 61, lives in Santa Cruz, Calif., and works as a freelance writer for magazines such as Hispanic Business and Diabetes Insider. He started building his website in early 1995 -- not long after he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

In February 1994, Mendosa had some routine blood tests. When the results came back, his doctor called him in and asked him, "Has anybody ever told you that you have diabetes?"

"I wasn't as shocked by my diagnosis as a lot of people seem to be," Mendosa says. "But it pushed me to change my lifestyle."

Mendosa had been overweight, weighing about 300 pounds. After his diagnosis, he switched from TV dinners and pizza to a low-fat, vegetarian diet. "My sister still can't believe it," he laughs. "It was a challenge, but I knew it was something I had to do." Over the next year, he lost 60 pounds.

Benefiting from the huge audience on the web

"I wanted to learn as much as I could," he explains, "so I subscribed to several diabetes magazines, and I read books and went to classes."

But his best source of information turned out to be the Internet. "Nothing can compare with it," he says. "On the Internet, I got information and support from so many people."

One time, for example, Mendosa became concerned that his HDL cholesterol, the so-called "good" cholesterol associated with a reduced risk of heart attack, might be too low. He posted a message to his Internet discussion group, and almost immediately, his web friends with diabetes got back to him. "They told me not to worry about it," he recalls. "It was a relief."

But the Internet helped Mendosa do a great deal more than simply manage his diabetes. It's also how he met his wife, Catherine Nord, another person with type 2 diabetes.

It all started when a woman on Mendosa's diabetes mailing list complained that her boyfriend was unsympathetic to her dietary needs. She asked for advice about what to do. Mendosa, who had been divorced for many years, fired back a tongue-in-cheek response. "I said, 'Dump the jerk. There are a lot of better people out there -- like me, for example.' "

Mendosa meant it only as a joke. "I was not looking for a relationship. Besides, she lived far away from me in the Midwest."

But hundreds of subscribers to the mailing list read Mendosa's remark. Soon afterward he received a message from another woman on the list. "How about me?" the note read. "I'm a retired schoolteacher. I live in California. And like you, I'm a type 2 diabetic." It was Nord.

"We started exchanging messages," Mendosa recalls. "Shortly after that, we went to private email. Then to telephone calls. Finally, we met for a date."

One year later Nord and Mendosa were married.

Healthier -- and busier -- than ever

Today Mendosa says he's never been happier. Thanks to his low-fat diet and regular exercise, he's brought his blood glucose numbers down so low that he no longer needs to take any medication.

When he was first diagnosed, Mendosa says he used to check his blood sugar before and after every meal. Nowadays, he tests himself only once a day before breakfast. "I know how my body works at this point," he says.

For exercise he and his wife take a brisk walk together every day for about half an hour.

As the number of diabetes resources on the web continues to rise, Mendosa spends hours every weekend updating his site to stay on top of the changes. "I never imagined it would turn into so much work," he sighs.

Mendosa says another web page of his devoted to the glycemic index actually gets more visitors than his page on diabetes resources. "A lot of people aren't familiar with the glycemic index," he says. "It's a concept that dates only to about 1981. And the first good book on it came out just last year."

The glycemic index is a way for people to really fine-tune their diabetes control. It measures the blood sugar effects of specific foods.

Mendosa makes no money from his web work. "It's just a hobby," he explains. But on reflection, he says it's more than that. "It's a way to give back to the Internet what the Internet gave me."

By Michael Castleman, an award-winning health writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the author of 10 consumer-health books and more than 500 articles dealing with health, medicine, fitness, and sexuality. His latest book is Blended Medicine (Rodale, 2000).

Last updated April 2000.

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