Ever wondered where on the World Wide Web you might discuss diabetes in German? Or see the chromosome where a diabetes gene is located?
Look no further than David Mendosa's On-Line Resources for Diabetics. Mendosa has created one of the most comprehensive and eclectic diabetes sites on the Web. He reviews more than 100 Web sites of interest to people with diabetes, and also lists many diabetes news groups and mailing lists.
‘It's a way to give back to the Internet what the Internet gave me.’
Mendosa, 61, lives in Santa Cruz, California, and works as a freelance writer for magazines such as Hispanic Business and Diabetes Insider. He started building his Web site in early 1995—not long after he was diagnosed with type II diabetes.
In February 1994, Mendosa had some routine blood tests. When the results came back, his doctor called him in and asked him, "Has anybody ever told you that you have diabetes?"
"I wasn't as shocked by my diagnosis as a lot of people seem to be," Mendosa says. "But it pushed me to change my lifestyle."
Mendosa had been overweight, weighing about 300 pounds. After his diagnosis, he switched from TV dinners and pizza to a low-fat, vegetarian diet. "My sister still can't believe it," he laughs. "It was a challenge, but I knew it was something I had to do." Over the next year, he lost 60 pounds.
"I wanted to learn as much as I could," he explains, "so I subscribed to several diabetes magazines, and I read books and went to classes."
But his best source of information turned out to be the Internet. "Nothing can compare with it," he says. "On the Internet, I got information and support from so many people."
One time, for example, Mendosa became concerned that his HDL cholesterol, the so-called "good" cholesterol associated with a reduced risk of heart attack, might be too low. He posted a message to his Internet discussion group, and almost immediately, his diabetic Web friends got back to him. "They told me not to worry about it," he recalls. "It was a relief."
Today Mendosa says he's never been happier. Thanks to his low-fat diet and regular exercise, he's brought his blood glucose numbers down so low that he no longer needs to take any medication.
When he was first diagnosed, Mendosa says he used to check his blood sugar before and after every meal. Nowadays, he tests himself only once a day before breakfast. "I know how my body works at this point," he says.
For exercise he takes a brisk walk together every day for about a half hour.
As the number of diabetes resources on the Web continues to rise, Mendosa spends hours every weekend updating his site to stay on top of the changes. "I never imagined it would turn into so much work," he sighs.
Mendosa says another Web page of his devoted to the glycemic index actually gets more visitors than his page on diabetes resources. "A lot of people aren't familiar with the glycemic index," he says. "It's a concept that dates only to about 1981. And the first good book on it came out just last year."
The glycemic index is a way for people to really fine tune their diabetes control. It measures the blood sugar effects of specific foods.
Mendosa makes no money from his Web work. "It's just a hobby," he explains. But on reflection, he says it's more than that. "It's a way to give back to the Internet what the Internet gave me."
Published on the Diabetes.com Web site in early 1997. Diabetes.com ceased operations in early 2001.
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