It was June 2004. Harvey Moss was working as a bus driver for the city of Detroit when his vision suddenly became blurry to the point where he could no longer drive. “Good thing I was on a slow street, because I couldn’t see the stop signs clearly,” Harvey recalls.
Harvey quickly made an appointment to see a doctor and when they took his blood sugar, it was so high that it was not measurable. “My blood sugar was beyond the meter,” says Harvey. Shortly after the blood test, Harvey was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes was not something that Harvey knew much about at the time. “No one in either of our families has diabetes,” says his wife and biggest supporter, Althlene Moss. “I didn’t know what it really was until he was diagnosed. I started reading up on diabetes and learning about what you can and can’t do.”
Despite the lack of understanding that Harvey and Althlene had about diabetes at first, they made changes one step at a time, which has helped them get used to a healthier lifestyle over the years.
“It took awhile to get used to eating healthier,” Harvey admits.
Now that Harvey and Althlene have adjusted to the lifestyle that comes with managing Harvey’s diabetes, the couple has made many health-oriented changes without making many sacrifices. Althlene prepares Harvey’s favorite dessert, peach cobbler, with low-fat sweetener instead of sugar, for example. The couple also says that fruits and vegetables have become an essential part of their diets. Harvey also mentions that you can have the things you enjoy sometimes, but in moderation. He talks about focusing on healthier options in your daily diet and trying new recipes to stay on track.
“Nowadays, it’s mostly fruit that we snack on,” says Harvey. “One of our favorites is to make fruit smoothies. Sometimes I’ll go out in the summer time and get kale from the garden, and put it with apples, bananas, blueberries, and pineapples in a blender,” Harvey replies when asked about his favorite healthy, diabetes-friendly snack.
“We also go to an exercise class 3 times a week,” Althlene adds.
Harvey says he’s seen many people in his life pass away from unmanaged kidney failure, diabetes, and other chronic conditions related to a lack of exercise and unhealthy nutrition. But to Harvey and Althlene, controlling Harvey’s diabetes is essential.
“I control my diabetes to live longer and healthier,” says Harvey. “I feel a lot better now that I’ve got my diabetes under control.”
Although eating healthy and exercising is important to Harvey and Althlene because of Harvey’s diabetes, they agree that it’s important for people who are not diagnosed with diabetes as well.
“I tell people my story because diabetes is something that creeps right up on you without you knowing,” says Harvey. “If I had been doing the right things, it never would have gotten to this point. Especially the eating and exercising; it wouldn’t have gotten to where it was if I had been healthy.”
Since Harvey’s diagnosis, Althlene has started a diabetes support group in the Detroit area for people with diabetes and their loved ones. Additionally, the couple has become an advocate for diabetes management and prevention through their participation in Detroit Community Against Diabetes (DCAD). DCAD is a coalition of community members and community-based partners organized by the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM). The goal of DCAD is to promote health equity throughout Northwest Detroit through policy-making, environmental changes, community awareness, and action by developing resources through strategic collaboration. Harvey frequently shares his story about diabetes with new members of DCAD, helping to spread awareness about diabetes and how to manage it.
Learn more about DCAD.
Learn more about diabetes.
For great resources about managing and preventing diabetes, please visit the National Diabetes Education Program.
This program is fully funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.