Success Story: Don Fillenworth

Don FillenworthName: Don Fillenworth, age 55

Location: Bismarck, N.D.

In mid-October 2012, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and had an A1C of 9.6. This was quite a shock for me, as there is no history of diabetes in my family. Before I was diagnosed, my feet were constantly numb and tingling, and I was losing feeling in the front portion of the bottom of both my feet. I had no clue that this was an indicator of diabetes, as I was not familiar with the disease at the time.

My doctor prescribed metformin, which I take twice a day, and referred me to a diabetes educator and nutritionist at our local medical center. My cholesterol and blood pressure levels were also really high, but I was already on medications for both.

My wife accompanied me to the diabetes education and nutrition courses. The courses were very educational and informative! We both were amazed at the amount of information we received. The lifestyle changes were pretty aggressive, including major diet changes as well as exercise.

Fortunately, my wife is so dedicated and helpful! Though she didn’t have to, Cindy committed to the same diet changes, as well as to starting a walking routine with me. Originally, my goal was to walk about one-and-a-half miles a day. Within a month, though, we were walking five to six miles a day during our lunch and dinner times.

In January, I received the results from a follow-up doctor’s visit and blood screening. In three short months, I have lowered my A1C level to 5.9! My blood pressure and cholesterol levels have decreased greatly and are now in normal ranges. I have also dropped more than 20 pounds and my feet no longer tingle. I feel great! Even my doctor was amazed at my dedication and progress.

I don’t consider being diagnosed with diabetes as a bad thing at all. It gave me the opportunity to realize that I wasn’t taking care of my health, and I was given a chance to correct the situation. I feel very blessed for the wisdom of the medical professionals in our community, as well as the love and support of my wife!

Do you know your risk for type 2 diabetes? March 26 was American Diabetes Association Alert Day®, and the Association encourages you to take the Diabetes Risk Test and share it with everyone you know. You will find this free test on Facebook, on or by calling 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383).

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27 Responses to Success Story: Don Fillenworth

  1. David Davis says:

    Congratulations Don! That’s great. I was diagnosed back in December of 2012. My A1C was 11.2 Within 3 months I got mine down to 6.8 and have dropped about 20 pounds as well. I hope to be where you are in the next 6 months. Keep on walking, its the best thing I’ve found for exercise at the moment. 🙂

  2. Jenny Lam says:

    Congratulations!!! My whole family is Type-2 diabetic and eventually I became diabetic and was also placed on Metformin. It’s reversed now and my A1c is 5.5 and no where being diabetic anymore!! Woo Hoo!

  3. Linda Phillips says:

    Don, when I heard last fall that you had been diagnosed with diabetes, I was concerned for you, but knew you well enough to know you wouldn’t let it win. I’m proud of you for being so disciplined and caring enough about your family that you want to stick around for a long time. Keep up the good work.

  4. danny says:

    I was diagnose type 2 diabetes in December 2012 and my A1C was 16. With proper diet, exercise and taking medication, as of last month; my A1C is 6.5. Like you, my doctor was amaze. I still don’t know much about diabetes but now I take it seriously.

  5. Cheryl Beuret says:

    Congratulations Don for all your hard work and dedication to your health issues. And Cindy you are an awesome wife to be right by his side, Yall are a great team. My motto, for my health has always been; I am living with cancer, not dying from it. Its an eye opener for sure to live your life as healthy as possible and never look back. Your cousin Cheryl B

  6. Ralph Van Dorpe says:

    Congratulations Don! I was diagnosed with type 2 in February 2012 with an A1C of15.9. By June I was down to 5.0. By October 1 2012 I was off insulin injections and have been since. Last A1C in January was 5.5. Since being diagnosed I lost 70 pounds. I took this as a wake up call and made changes with my diet and amount of exercise and feeling a lot better. Good luck and keep up the good work.

  7. Bill Paulk says:

    Thank you Don for sharing your story. I was diagnosed 2 weeks ago with type 2 diabetes. Im a 43 year old hard working male. The worse part of my situation is that i am a chef. In any case your story is very inspirational. I will use this as a tool to my recovery. I wish you and your wife the best of life.

  8. Lon Wynn says:

    I two was diagnosed 8yrs ago of being a diabetic. After living on meds for those years, I read a Dr’s report on the subject and change my diet. After 3 months of diet changes, my A1C is 6 and my blood sugar is running 85 to 95.
    We need to watched our foods and where they come from!

  9. Natasha says:

    I have type 2 diabetes. Now is 2 years with it. I do not know what to do because I am handicapped using wheelchair only. I tried every thing I can never works including metformin pills, diet drink or food watch nothing help my blood glucose now is 300, my feet tingling and shooting. My nerve now is senates (headache is bad). But I lost 18 Ibs.
    Any advisor.

  10. Daniel Zschau says:

    Congrats for you Don. I myself was diagnosed in early November 2012, am 39yrs old with no history of diabetes in the family. My A1C was at 10.4 and my 2nd one they took in March 2013, was at 7.3 , I know can be lower but my doctor was very happy with my progress as well. I’m currently starting to walk and run, and even have a goal for a marathon in Jan 2014.

  11. Antonio Montes says:

    Hats off to you Don. I was diagnosed in August of 2012 and I was disappointed, though not surprised, since my mother was diagnosed with type 2 more than a decade ago. Being diagnosed showed me that I was overeating, indulging in sweet food and drinks and not doing exercise. Since being diagnosed I have substantially reduced my carbohydrate intake, virtually eliminated sugar and high-fructose corn syrup from my diet (except a touch of sugar in my morning cofee), and dropped 22 lbs as a result. I have learned that eating is about satiating, not overindulging and exercise is essential to our quality of life. I do not smoke and can count the times I drink alcohol in a year on one hand. I was prescribed metformin by my doctor but had to stop taking it because I lost my job in December, partly due to my diagnosis. But necessity forced me to tweak my diet further and I now control it without medication. I recently had my blood pressure checked and it was normal. As soon as I can I will take follow-up tests to see how I’m doing, but I feel better since I changed my diet and dropped the pounds. One thing I like to share with other diabetics is that the one natural control I use for diabetes is that I drink plenty of water, especially when I’m on the higher scale for blood sugar. I have done my own observations and on those occasions where my blood sugar was high I drank about 36 ounces of water and it helped lower my blood sugar. Of course I’m not a doctor and I dont give this as advice, but I like to share information if I think it can help. Keep up the routine. It helps to know we’re not alone in our challenges.

    • Kristy says:

      Antonio Montes just read your post. Did you know that Metformin is only $4.00 at Walmart and you don’t even have to have insurance to get it for that price. It’s on their 4 dollars list. That’s where I get mine. If you tell them you have insurance it’s more. All of their 4 dollar meds are just 4 dollars any time.

  12. louis says:

    Hey Don,

    Thanks for the inspiration, I just found out this week I have type 2 ,my A1C is 10.5. (bad news).
    (good news) my wife is currently in school for nursing, I have mother in law that’s been in the nursing field for 55 years! Hats off to you Cindy! I’m learning having people that care for you and support you is most important along with your own life style changes. hopefully I will have my A1C down in three months.

    Good luck everyone!

  13. priyanka verma says:

    Pls help,
    As my son who is 7 diagnosed type2 one year back. As his school timings are 7:30 to 2:30 . I m unable to manage his sugar levels. Pls help n I need ur valuable suggestions

    • Roshan says:

      Dear Priyanka,
      You can control it by the food, start his breakfast with whole wheat bread or cerials before going to school and give him a sandwich with whole wheat bread at break time, dont give any related to white flour, dont let him miss his break time meal, being long hours without meals will increase the blood sugar levels,

  14. Tyler Roney says:

    Hey Don,

    My Mom was diagnosed with this yesterday. Reading your story gives me even more positive reinforcement that I needed to be there to support her. I am planning on making her a recipe book with some healthier options for meals and keep her motivated and driven as she begins her path to remaining healthy. It’s amazing to hear success stories such as yours! God bless you and thank you for taking the time to share.

  15. Dywone Brooks says:

    I am newly diagnose with type 2 diabetes my A1C was 6.7 a week ago Dec 3, 2013. I am nurse also now that it has been confirmed that I have Type 2 diabetes I have modify my diet with avoiding certain carbohydrates and sugars. I do walking on the treadmill 30 minutes a day 5 days a week now. Currently taking Metformin 500mg once a day. I will keep you updated on my progress.

    • Shellby says:

      That’s weird I was diagnosed today my a1c was 6.7 I have to start metformin tomarrow 500 mg. Im scared but not going to let it get me down I’m just scared to take the medication does it make your tummy hurt

  16. Ohio Dan says:

    Congrats Don on getting your diabetes under control and thanks for sharing your story. I’m in the same boat… mid-fifties, numbness in feet, etc… Diagnosed type 2 last week with a blood glucose of 260. I didn’t know about A1C level at that time, so I don’t know what mine is yet. The doctor put me on 1000mg Metformin per day, to increase to 2000mg in two weeks. I have trouble taking more than 1 pill (500mg) per day, because of the side effects (smile). Taking only one pill per day I got my blood glucose down to 134 in one week, so I’m not planning on increasing my dose… yet. Drastic change in diet (no peperoni pizzas, etc…) and treadmill walking. My biggest concern is did I do any permanent damage… will my feet return to normal again?

    • Ohio Dan says:

      Update… I stopped taking my meds on Christmas day (I’m NOT advocating this). I’m one of those people who only take meds when necessary and trying to prolong the day I have to take a pill every morning for the rest of my life. I got my blood glucose down to 124 now and lost 12 pounds (225 to 213) in two weeks. Drastic diet change and 2 miles per day on treadmill. May be tough getting blood glucose down to 100 without meds… will see. Also, I found out that my A1C level was initially 9.9%. Hope these posts help others.

      • Ohio Dan says:

        Around week 4 for me now… I have a follow-up appointment with my primary doctor on Monday. Wonder how he’s going to take me being off of my meds. I’m walking 2+ miles per day. Twice a day (15 minutes each) at work and in the evening on the threadmill (30+ minutes). Found my free weights, so I just started doing some curls, etc… Blood glucose now between 110 – 125 in the morning. I’ll be surprised if I ever get it down to 100, because I’m eating very little. Still working on my diet. My weight is down to 209 now… lost 16 pounds in 4 weeks. This is probably my last post. I wanted to give others info. on how I’m dealing with diabetes, because the posts above helped me out. Take care all!

  17. Ken says:

    Was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in February 2014. A1C was 8.7 and glucose was 196. I read a lot about this topic and tried to reduce my carb intake to below 80 grams a day. Decided to start making ALL the food I eat, including salad dressings, mayo, ketchup, etc. Upped my green vegetable intake and have a much more Mediterranean diet. Lost 50 lbs, A1C last week was 5.5 and glucose was 95.

  18. Joe says:

    Just got my diagnosis last week after going to the doctor for a routine checkup 10 days ago.
    A1C was 6.0 and blood sugar 199, cholesterol 214, weight 219 (about a 20 pound gain in the last year).
    My doctor said this “confirms diabetes” and wanted me to go on Metformin and pravastatin for cholesterol. I went on the pravastatin but
    I asked for 3 months to attempt to reverse this with diet and exercise before going on Metformin.
    I have eliminated refined sugars, all drinks other than water, and nearly all carbs (no white bread for sure).
    I also have started exercising again (1-1.5 hours/day). I have lost 7.5 pounds in 10 days.
    I already feel so much better from eliminating the sugar. I used to eat a LARGE glass of ice cream every night and chocolate muffins for breakfast. I am 47 and have to realize I’m not a kid anymore and have to start making wise decisions.
    I’m in this journey with all of you, and praying for each of you to win this battle!

  19. Bill says:

    I’m a diabetic. I’m inspired by the previous stories of other people that are struggling with this problem.
    I’m 67 years old. Every one in maternal family has been and if alive is diabetic.
    I have tried to deal with the problem without meds, but it seems to worsen with age.
    I execise regularly. i try not to eat foods with added sugars. However, i’m retired and i’m good for 2 -3 beers per day, and on alternate days, I may drink 2-3 glasses of wine, Chardonay or Merlot.
    I stoped tesing my glucose months ago, when it had steadied at about 130. It had dropped from about and average of 184. lately i have experienced frequent urination through the night and day. i tested today and my glicose level was 338! Exercise is not a problem. I welcome any advice that can help tackle this problem!

    Thank you all.


  20. Kristy says:

    Newly diagnosed. A1c was 6.7. I am 62 weighed 151 ft tall. I have lost 31 lbs quickly cutting carbs an exercising 30 to 45 mins per day 7 days a week. What I am now concerned about is I read that diabetes have to watch when they exercise so as not to bring their numbers down too low. I have been briskly walking after dinner for about 15 and now find that may not be a good idea. The other day my glucose meter read 202 two hours after eating. I had forgotten to exercise so I walked for 15 mins and my number immediately dropped to 110 within that 15 minutes. Does that sound right to anyone? I am wondering if my meter is not operating correctly. That seems drastic for 15 mins after the first one. This disease is really stressing me out trying to figure out what to do and what not to do. Thanks Kristy

  21. Beth says:


    I’m 62, 5’6″and 168 lbs. I was just told my A1C was 6.7 and prescribed Metformin. I would like to try doing this without medication. Can someone suggest a website that has a guide to eating for Type 11 Diabetes?

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