VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Not many people have their name printed on the side of an ambulance like Anthony Wilson does. “It’s the first and only branded American Diabetes Association ambulance in the United States,” Wilson told WAVY.

For Anthony Wilson, its an honor and part of his mission to educate others about the disease that nearly took his life.

One morning, Wilson’s wife noticed he did not look well, and insisted he go to the hospital.
“I don’t know how she got me down the stairs. I was in multi system failure. My blood sugar was 1098. My A1C was 17.3,” Wilson said.

Lets put that in perspective – a fasting blood sugar level should be below 100. Wilson’s was a toxic 10 times that amount.

Doctor Manasi Shah, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School said of Wilson, “(He’s) lucky to be here, lucky to have been diagnosed when he actually did.”

Dr. Shah said the signs of diabetes are typically the same for men and women:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased Urination
  • Blurry vision

Men however, may also notice other unique symptoms.

“Just increased tiredness, low sexual desire, problems with erection or erectile dysfunction, low muscle mass or they’re exercising and noticing they’re losing muscle,” Dr. Shah said.

Wilson and his wife had been working out to get healthier, but Wilson noticed his weight loss was much more dramatic.

In hindsight, Wilson said the signs were there.

He’s been in ambulances for 35 years as an EMT, but got his wake up call in an ICU bed.

“I’d like to live for a long time, and I had to make a drastic decision to do something to get healthier,” he said.

He changed his eating habits, lost 100 pounds and advocates for his health and the health of others saying, “For the fellas out there… Stop being all manly. Just get out there and get tested because you cant fix anything if you don’t know what’s wrong!”

Dr. Shah recommends testing for diabetes after 35 years of age or sooner if you have any of the risk factors, including a family history, increased weight or those symptoms she mentioned.

Through exercise and diet, Anthony’s diabetes is now under control with no medication.
He hopes his success and namesake ambulance will drive others.

“I’m hoping that they’ll look at it and go to their primary care physician and say, hey I need to get tested for diabetes what do I need to do.”