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Andrew Nelson

Secondary Diabetes Success Story

Date Posted: Tuesday, February 01, 2022

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At 37 years old, Andrew Nelson is living a second chance.  His journey to sobriety began in December of 2017.  He has since learned to appreciate what’s important. 

“Since I stopped drinking, I’ve spent the better part of three years in a hospital bed after multiple surgeries and procedures for pancreatitis and other health issues,” he said.  “But today I feel great.”

Andrew was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes due to damage caused by pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas.  “I required insulin injections throughout the day and had to check my blood sugars,” he said.  "That was in addition to all of the pills I was taking for other medical issues..”

He was referred to the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence in 2020, and today, no longer takes any medication, including insulin!

“They’ve been incredible,” Andrew said, referring to his diabetes care team.  Dr. Laura Alonso, who has since moved to New York, became his first Endocrinologist.  “She took control right away and cleaned up my medication list,” he Andy.  “She removed pills that I no longer needed and got me using a Dexcom [continuous glucose monitor] to monitor my blood sugars.  That thing is a game changer!”

His diabetes care is now in the hands of Nurse Practitioner & Diabetes Educator Nancy Sidhom.  “She’s amazing.  Easy to talk to.  Nancy taught me a lot about healthy eating, carbohydrates, and avoiding & treating hyperglycemia (low blood sugar),” he said.  “I learn something new each time I have an appointment with her.  She takes time to answer all of my questions.”

"Andrew is awesome," said Sidhom.  "His insulin insufficiency was caused by pancreatic damage, but he was able to restore his health and metabolism and no longer needs to inject insulin because he's committed to the lifestyle modifications he's made." 

Andrew rebuilt the relationship with his 13-year-old daughter, who means the world to him.  He pays close attention to his diet and takes daily hikes with his camera.  “I have a new profound outlook and a love for nature,” he said.  “Stopping to smell the roses isn’t about admiring flowers, it’s about the people you meet in the garden.” 

His new appreciation for the world around him led Andrew to pursue a photography business.  He enjoys snapping photos throughout Central Massachusetts, as well as in Maine where he has family and spends a lot of time.  A few of of his Studio 24 images can be seen below.      

“I try to catch the sunrise and sunset every day,” he said. “Time is the world’s most precious commodity.”

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