[MUSIC PLAYING] I didn't know that was going to end up in food. I asked my mother when I was 10 or 11 for more allowance, and she said, no. If you want more money, you have to go earn it. She had a friend who owned a Greek diner. And they got me a job washing dishes on the weekends. And then kind of stereotypical, the prep guy doesn't show up, so I start doing some prep too. And then when I walked into culinary school, it all kind of almost physically clicked for me. I still remember what it smelled like. I remember what the creaky floor sounded like, and realized this is it. This is where I'm supposed to be. I work 80 to 100 hours a week. And probably 2/3 of that time is on your feet. This week, this is my sixth day, and I'm already over 90 hours. Today will be an 18 hour day, and tomorrow probably another 18 hour day. Pound the energy drink, let the adrenaline carry you through. You get home, you have a shower, and then you crash. Meanwhile, you have kids at home. You have a wife at home. Laundry, cleaning the gutters, cutting the grass-- where do you find time to do that when you're working 100-plus hours a week? But that's what the business demands.
[MUSIC PLAYING] I had this ulcer on the side of my left big toe. I went to my doctor. She gave me an antibiotic. She gave me a shot. And then I came back to see her in two weeks, and nothing had really gotten any better.
I'm starting to kind of look at WebMD, trying to understand more of what's happening. She sent me to a hospital in DeKalb County. They took an X-ray. And if you look at the bone, you can see kind of like a half moon shading. And he pointed out to me, that's the infection getting into the bone.
Then they had a podiatrist come through. And he immediately starts talking about scheduling me for surgery. And I was like, oh, time out, what are you doing? He said, we're going to amputate this toe. He said, so if I don't take your toe now, you can come back in six months, and I'll be taking your leg. It's going to be a big deal. I don't understand how I got to here. The endocrinologist kind of stepped front and center and very bluntly told me that you're now type 2 diabetic. The endocrinologist was telling me what to eat, the different insulins and what they do to you. I had just had the surgery. I'm still groggy, couldn't really think, and then they're hitting me with all this information. It was just very, very overwhelming. And it really kind of hit me then what had happened to me and like how things were about to change for me.
When I was told that I was diabetic, I was scared and overwhelmed. I had no idea. Diabetes doesn't run my family. I was never obese. I said to myself, you need to rethink your day to day. It was just zero to 60, like, overnight.
I'm panicking, because everything that I'm used to, everything that I want to eat, I can't. As far as being a chef specifically, I think the things that I felt were just part of the job were actually symptoms of diabetes that I just never recognized. I always felt some type of fatigue. You know, hindsight being 20/20, that was to me kind of the tell that something probably was wrong sooner than when I actually found out.
When my sugar gets low, you get clammy palms. You get kind of sweaty. You can kind of feel your heart beating. It's almost like you're going to be sick. When that starts to happen, I can't really think straight.
And when my blood sugar gets high, I get really bad tension headache at the top of my neck, base of my skull, almost like migraine kind of level. Everything from triple vision to halos around every light. You'd be at work, working on the line, and you're getting blurry vision. You're just like, just push through it and drink some water. You try to do something on the fly to fix it because you can't stop. The pain and the anxiety that is attached to that really makes anything else almost impossible. When I went to the store, this time I started reading the labels. I used to drink this juice. I read the label, and one of the little bottles that I would drink six or eight a week of has close to 70 grams of sugar. And here I'm thinking, oh, it's natural. I'm doing something good for myself. So what else am I not benefiting from that I think I am?
Knowing that my situation can be accelerated because of the diabetes, one of my biggest fears is the fear of heart failure. The exertion, maybe it is too much. With the diabetes, I'm more cognizant now of healthier options, not just for myself, but in how I cook. I think about how can I add more flavor without sugar, without starches. I don't just load something down with butter or salt. I think more acid, splash of vinegar, herbs. I'm still as driven as I've ever been. I'm still as creative. I'm very passionate about what I do with being a chef. I'm not going to let the diabetes dictate how I live my life.