I meet some fascinating people while auditing construction workers, and Jim, a site manager, was right up there with the very best.
An amazing bloke.
Whilst running through some paperwork Jim produced his CSCS card (a card that all operatives working on construction sites need). Primarily the card contains all of his skills and a photo…and it was the photo that drew my attention. I could see from the shape of his head that Jim was huge when this photo was taken which was a complete contradiction to the man sitting opposite me ‘a picture of health’. And before I had time to prompt my next question Jim was already telling his story.
“I was called stocky but I was a fat unfit fucker suffering from type 2 diabetes. Me and the lads followed Southampton religiously home and away and I would think nothing of downing 18 pints and on an away trip. And I loved pasties…boy did I love Ginsters pasties and could eat 3-4 in one go!!”and a good curry or kebab on the way home.
“On various occasions I would wake up the following morning having had a horrible nightmare about wrecking the house only to find out that it wasn’t a dream…it was reality!!!” seemed like a dream but was reality without knowing it I was having a diabetic rage bit like when the hulk goes mad and summons all his strength and anger at one.
“As a contracts manager / construction manager of a civil engineering concrete company I was increasingly struggling to deal with the continued pressure that it was placing on me and this just increased all those bad habits that were running (destroying) my life. Drinking and eating badly became my saviour”.
And then it all changed.
Was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
“For my diabetes, I had been prescribed some pills which I was supposed to take regularly, but I didn’t, I would wash them down with lager and think it was funny, although I would lie to the medical staff when they asked me. But they weren’t stupid and could see that my situation was worsening regular blood test were giving the game away as they could see my history of excess I was 5ft 4incs tall and weighed just under 16.5 stones. Fuck I was a mess but didn’t see it myself.
“Initially they tried the nicely nicely approach but gradually, with this obviously not working, they started to become more aggressive until one day, one of the staff, who I really liked and respected, sat me down and told me exactly where I was going. And it wasn’t pleasant”.
“Jim this is serious, within the next few years there is every likelihood that you will have a heart attack, stroke and start losing limbs…normally your legs will go first and go blind and then you will die” do you have a wife who loves and relies on your support and salary do you want to see your children grow up have you grandchildren do you want to be an influence on their lives FUCK!! I need to stop doing ALL of the things that are aggravating the situation, change my diet completely, stop drinking and start exercising and then I might have a chance otherwise my future is looking very bleak”
“This Jim is your last warning”.
“This was the first time anyone had been really honest with me and by the time I arrived home, I had decided, fuck it, I don’t want to lose a leg…or die… or have a stroke. I want to see my family grow up I’m going to change and the change starts NOW!!! “
“And the first hurdle was to stop drinking. I was up to 120 units a week for FUCK SAKE so as you can imagine stopping something that had become an inherent part of my life for 30 years was going to be bloody tough… as people couldn’t understand what was going on but I did…on that day I stopped and have never touched a drop since. Of course, it was fucking hard but with those stinging words “Jim you will die” have a heart attack or a stroke continually reverberating in my head I just kept focused and worked through it”.
“For exercise I brought a bike. The first day I rode it into town and back (about 5 miles) and was so fucking exhausted when I got home, I couldn’t get my feet out of the foot clips…and duly fell off!!”
During Jim’s life-changing challenge he became aware that two of his ‘Saints’ mates were also suffering from diabetes. None of them had ever talked about it and it was only when they saw Jim popped a ‘pill’ that his secret…and theirs…came out. Initially we were like ‘brothers in arms’, collectively determined to get better, but it became obvious to Jim very quickly, that his mates didn’t share the same focus as him…so while he exercised; changed his drinking and eating habits completely, they did the minimum.
A few years on Jim is psychologically and physically fitter then he has ever been in his life. He weighs just over 10-5 stone and thinks nothing of cycling 20 – 30 miles in an evening. With bigger rides at weekends 50-60 miles. He has purchased an apartment in Spain from the money he says he saved from the changes he has made to lifestyle…and spends hours cycling up in the mountains of Spain and when he and his wife take a few days off and head for the sun.
And what of his two ‘brothers in arms’? One died of a heart attack and the other sits in the ‘local’ supping pints of beer, looking down at the stump and a false leg that is all that remains from his right leg… a constant remainder to Jim that his journey, however tough, was worth every ache and pain that ensued during those early days, when only his determination and sheer bloody mindedness got him through.
FOOTNOTE. As everyone involved with MANSTRESS will tell you, changing is the hardest thing you will ever try to do. But every one of us has the ability to change (if we want to) and to think otherwise is a cop-out…and complete bollocks!!
Change is TOUGH because once bad habits are locked into your subconscious, your mind will do everything it can to prevent changes being made…
Because good or bad, that is what nature designed it to do. Therefore, whether it be drinking, eating, working or simply overindulging excessively, to change those sabotaging defaults you have to do what Jim did…firstly visualise where you will be if you don’t change (losing limbs and having a heart attack are pretty strong visions) and then set goals, which you follow with total commitment ,until those goals replace the bad habits which were controlling your thoughts and behaviours.
Please share your story to our growing man stress tribe.