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Rhymefest talks about life with diabetes by Danielle Brown


While traveling back home from a work trip, rapper-activist Che “Rhymefest” Smith noticed some- thing was not right with his body. He recalled being lethargic, urinat- ing constantly, eating enormous amounts of food at a time, not being able to walk and feeling like he was about to collapse.

“I was like oh my God, something is wrong,” Rhymefest told the Defender.

Finally he decided to go to the doc- tor and figure out what was wrong. The nurse checked his blood sugar level. It wasn’t good.

“When she took mine it just said

high. The nurse asked, ‘Do you feel like you’re about to pass out?’ I’m like ‘Yeah!’ She said, ‘You’re about to pass out and go into a coma!’” he said.

Rhymefest was immediately sent to the emergency room. When his urine was tested, it was full of sugar. When his blood sugar level was retested, it read 730, he said. According to the ADA, a normal blood glucose level range is between

100 and 140. He was diagnosed with Type 2 dia-

betes. Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes. Historically, type 2 dia- betes has been diagnosed primarily in middle-aged adults, however, ado- lescents and young adults are devel- oping type 2 diabetes at an alarming rate. The lack of exercise and increasing incidence of obesity are risk factors for type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. African Americans are 1.8 times more likely to have diabetes as whites and 3.7 million, or nearly 15 percent of all African Americans over age 20 have diabetes, according to the association.

Since that moment he's started his life over.

“I had to change my whole diet. My new attitude is: if I can’t have it, I don’t want it!” he stressed. More vegetables and fruits have been introduced in his meals and he’s eliminated soda from his diet. His physical fitness has also improved. He and his family ride their bikes more often, said the insulin-depend- ent rapper-activist. Rhymefest urges everyone to

Che “Rhymefest” Smith

become more aware of their health by “pressing your doctors to test and

be aware about your health.” If people don’t ask for specific test,

the doctors will not give them, he said.

Facts about Diabetes

Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threaten- ing complications, and certain populations experience an even greater threat. Good diabetes man- agement can help reduce your risk; however, many people are not even aware that they have dia- betes until they develop one of its complications. •Blindness-African Americans are almost 50 percent as likely to develop diabetic retinopathy as non-Hispanic whites. •Kidney Disease-African Americans are 2.6 to 5.6 times as likely to suffer from kidney dis- ease with more than 4,000 new cases of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) each year. •Amputations-African

14 Chicago Defender • • November 9-15, 2011

Americans are 2.7 times as likely to suffer from lower-limb amputa- tions. Amputation rates are 1.4 to 2.7 times higher in men than women with diabetes. •Heart Disease and Stroke- Heart disease and stroke account for about 65 percent of deaths in people with diabetes. Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes. The risk for stroke is 2 to 4 times high- er and the risk of death from stroke is 2.8 times higher among people with diabetes. •Men-Deaths from heart dis- ease in men with diabetes have decreased by only 13 percent compared to a 36 percent decrease in men without diabetes. •Women-In women with dia-

betes, deaths from heart disease have increased 23 percent over the past 30 years compared to a 27 percent decrease in women with- out diabetes.

•Nerve Damage-Diabetic neu- ropathy is a serious complication of diabetes that affects millions of people every day. Nerves dam- aged by diabetic neuropathy can cause stinging or burning sensa- tions, tingling, pain, numbness or weakness in the hands and feet. Diabetic neuropathy puts you at risk for foot injury, infection, even amputation.

-American Diabetes Association

Defender/Angie Meus

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