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Gerald Garwood, type 2 diabetes, South Africa (03:04)

Meet Gerald, a freight ship captain, who in his job is used to take a huge responsibility. When diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Gerald was forced to take responsibility for his health and accept the changes he was bound to make in his life. At first he felt it difficult to loose his freedom of choice. But he has now realised and accepted that with a little loss of freedom choice comes longevity.

As a freight ship captain, Gerald is used to navigating change. This applies as much to his life since he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes as it does to his responsibilities at sea.

“Diabetes makes you think about your lifestyle. It’s all about managing your diabetes, accepting that this is how it is going to be, and then getting on with it!”

And Gerald is getting on with it. A year after his diagnosis he changed his diet and lost 15 kilos. Nor will he let diabetes get in the way of his his work. On board he is in contact with his doctor, can exchange emails with his dietician and even gets help from the ship’s galley.

“If there is something on the menu that is not good for me, the chef changes it. That is the fortunate thing about being the captain!”

Gerald learned about the changes that come with diabetes from his father. “He didn’t take it quite as well, and didn’t want to change the way he had been living.” With Gerald’s support, his father eventually made the right choices and enjoyed his life.

Gerald’s father also introduced him to his favourite hobby: brewing beer. Unfortunately, giving up beer has been another change Gerald has had to navigate. Even so, Gerald’s positive attitude, which resulted in his childhood nickname ‘Smiler’, is still very much in evidence:

“It was frustrating to give up my brewing. But now I’ve got new hobbies that make me happy, that’s the main thing.”

Today, Gerald relaxes with his wife, looks after his dogs and plays snooker on a table he bought to remind him of games with his father. He also enjoys having friends over for a ‘braai’: a South African barbecue. Of course he misses a cold beer, but, as he points out: “You can still smile and be jovial without the beer. I promise.”

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