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Running down type 1 diabetes

Mineral Wells Index - 4/15/2019

April 12-- Apr. 12--Diagnosed as a child with type I diabetes living in England, the prognosis in 1972 for a healthy, normal lifestyle going forward was not great for Don Muchow.

Cautioned not to exercise, his health gradually worsened -- to a point he became overweight and developed eyesight problems. Living in Plano in the early 2000s with his wife, Leslie, Muchow decided to take control of his life. So he began running.

Now 58 years old and weighing a trim 160 pounds, Muchow is an extreme runner and Ironman. He is currently running 850 miles across Texas, from El Paso to Texarkana, to raise awareness about and support for this incurable disease and to let others with type I diabetes know they are not alone.

The Index caught up to Muchow Friday morning as he left Mineral Wells headed east along U.S. Highway 180.

"When I was diagnosed in 1972, my doctors, they didn't have glucose meters back then and had no way of telling if my sugar level was high or low," said Muchow. "My doctor said don't exercise because that can drop your blood sugar."

He said he regrets taking that medical advice.

"If I had a do-over, the do-over for me would be exercise," Muchow said.

Once known as juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed for sugar to produce energy in the body's cells. There are varying factors that cause type 1 diabetes, including genetics and some viruses. Today, treatments to maintain healthy blood sugar levels involve insulin therapies, diet and lifestyle.

While it might not be appropriate for everyone diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Muchow wants others to know they can manage their condition, improve their health and get support.

"For me it is about connecting with others with type I who are as scared as I was about exercising," he said. "I managed to do it and overcome some of the obstacles, or at least figure out how to deal with them. The real message is that you are not alone. There are buddies out there all over the place who can train with you, can run with you so that you don't feel scared of going low, or having to deal with troubles of high blood sugars, to exercise to keep your blood sugars level. It also has some risks. I want to let people know that just because it's hard doesn't mean you shouldn't do it."

When we stopped Muchow Friday morning just east the U.S. 180 canyon, he had logged 581 miles of his journey that began March 24 at San Jacinto Plaza in El Paso. He plans to reach Texarkana City Hall on April 19 -- one week from today. He mapped the longest distance across the Lone Star State.


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