Grandfather builds healthy future by managing his diabetes Victor Prado

For 42 years, Los Angeles native Victor Prado carved up the white lines on the freeway, maneuvering his motorcycle on his way to work at Union Pacific. He started as a diesel mechanic and ascended to operations manager, a job akin to an air traffic controller but for trains. In 2019, at 62-years-old, he embraced retirement, eager to spend more time with his wife Ella, their nine grandkids and golfing with his buddies.

However, that same year, shortly after retirement, a high blood sugar diagnosis led Prado to Nilem Patel, MD, our exceptional endocrinologist here at Adventist Health White Memorial.

Prado entered the waiting room and was confronted with a sobering glimpse of his potential future. Around him were individuals of comparable age, each grappling with the repercussions of diabetes. The visible toll it had taken on them was evident: many patients were struggling with unhealthy weight and others were leaning forcefully on walkers or seeking the stabilizing arm of a loved one to hold them steady.

Recounting that moment with a voice tinged with fear, yet tempered with compassion, Prado confided, “That first day looking around at the other patients…like, wait a minute, is that me? Having to be held up, they were no older than me. I never pictured myself being handicapped like that.”

Despite his 5-feet, 9-inch frame carrying 205 pounds and the intermittent buzzing sensations in his feet, Prado believed he was still relatively healthy. But Patel calmly put to rest any illusions he had when she officially diagnosed him with Type 2 diabetes that day.

However, the seriousness of his condition didn’t sink in for another six months, when he saw firsthand the devastating effects diabetes had on his golf buddy.

“A golfing buddy of mine, who never told anybody he had diabetes, had his foot cut off,” Prado said. “And then, of course, like most diabetics, they cut the ankle off, and then it goes up to the knee and it finally got it up to the thigh. It’s a wake-up call for something like that to happen.”

Finally accepting the reality of his condition, Prado leaned into Patel’s nurturing yet accountability-centered approach to treatment — she always made him bring his glucometer to his appointments as a reminder to stay vigilant in monitoring his condition.

Diabetes Educator José Duran was also an invaluable source of support and guidance for Prado. Duran infused his nutrition expertise with understanding and empathy, drawing from their shared cultural background to instruct Prado on healthier food alternatives during their weekly nutrition education sessions.

“I’m a chocolate freak,” Prado admitted with a sheepish grin. “It turns out, my staples — generally rice, beans and tortillas… turn into sugar. He really educated me.”

Over the next four years, Prado progressed, even during the trying times of COVID-19. He built a home gym, and every day, walking alongside his two beagles, Dash and Patch, he averaged an impressive 14,000 steps.

Today, Prado weighs a healthy 155 pounds, controls his food intake, has healthy eating habits and averages a consistent blood sugar level of 78. Dr. Patel was so pleased with his changes that during his May 2023 check-in, she relaxed his visitation schedule to once every six months.

In a poignant reflection, Prado stated, “I’m here because I feel good about myself and what this hospital has done for me. I have successfully done what the doctors have told me, and I got healthier. I have nine grandchildren. My goal is not to be under, but above ground as long as I can.”

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