Grateful Patient Gets back On His Feet


June 2013

While Fred Aguilar slowly made his way up the stairs toward the entrance to Hillside Health Center, Darca Nicholson (Healthy Living Workshop teacher) handed him a flyer advertising a free wellness class. She said, “I can see you’re living with pain. We can help.” Aguilar took the flyer and he says that simple exchange changed his life.

A few years ago, Aguilar, age 52, had been diagnosed with diabetes, but had not been able to get it under control. For 28 years, he had supported himself and his family as an owner/operator truck driver specializing in transporting hazardous materials, but when he became dependent on insulin and began suffering from neuropathy as a result of his diabetes, his license was revoked. 

Left with unbearable pain and no means to support himself, he began to lose hope. He sold his possessions to raise money to take care of his family. His wife had to find a job. His step-son, Carlos, began to wonder if things would ever get better. 

“I was down, so I started seeing a therapist at the clinic,” Aguilar said. “I had worked all my life, never missed a day’s work, never called in sick. When I got this serious illness, I felt worthless because I couldn’t work.” 

Aguilar’s health had deteriorated to the point where he had suffered two diabetic comas and his weight had dropped dramatically. “My body was eating itself and I was in so much pain. I had numbness in my feet, pulsing pain in my muscles, joint pain that felt like terrible arthritis, and burning pain in my nerves,” he said. 

Then, he attended the six-session wellness class. He admits that he felt negative at first, but that he started to feel better when he met others who were also suffering. 

“Family members get tired and frustrated with the pain, but in the class I felt I wasn’t alone,” he said. He also began to realize that he was the only one who could change his life. With reinforcement from family, classmates, and the instructors, he started gaining control of his diet and increasing his strength through exercise. But the most important change was his mental attitude. “The class gave me hope,” he said, smiling. “No one else is going to manage your food and exercise. This stuff is essential. You can’t get away from it. But, without a healthy mind, I wouldn’t have been able to put two and two together.” 

Step-son Carlos said things are better now. “Before, Dad couldn’t get up the stairs at home without pulling on the banister. I thought he was never gonna get better.” Now, father and son are fixing bikes together and going on short rides. 

“I’ve got my days when I get down, but overall, things are better. Now I’ve got hope. I’ll be back,” Aguilar said, hugging Carlos. Referring to Darca who handed him the information about the wellness class, he said, “I just want to thank that little angel who put me on the path to getting well.” 


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