Matthew was born in 1997 weighing in at 9lbs 14oz, a big boy considering my wife Alison is small (OK let’s get this out of the way at the beginning, yes of all the women I could have met and married, I had to marry someone with the same first name as my last name. But she kept her maiden name of Davies, and she found it rather amusing at the time, what can I say, I loved her). The delivery was traumatic to say the least, Matthew was very wide and his shoulders got trapped. We went from having one mid-wife and myself delivering him to a whole team of mid-wife’s and doctors taking over. After what seemed like a life time he was delivered and given the all clear.
Eight months later we moved from Swansea in Wales, UK to Anchorage Alaska USA, for a one year teaching position at The Martin Luther King Jr Career Centre through the Full Bright Teacher Exchange program. Six months went by and Matthew seemed to develop what the doctors thought was the flu, we were told it would pass in a few days. One week later we were really concerned, he had no signs of getting better, in fact he was losing weight, eating very little and drinking loads. To me it was diabetes, my brother Michael has been a type 1 diabetic since he turned 13 years old, now in his 50’s, he thought the same as we did. We took Matthew back to see the doctor only to be told he would get better soon, this time we refused to accept the doctor’s diagnosis of Matthew’s condition and insisted on a blood glucose test being conducted, refusing to leave the doctor’s office until this test had been done.
Within minutes of the results, Matthew was being rushed to the emergency ward. He was so dehydrated that his veins had collapsed; the doctors could not find a vein large enough in his arms or legs for an intravenous drip that they had to insert a needle in the veins in his head. You can image what we were going through at that traumatic time. We stayed the night at the hospital and to our amazement, he seemed to be back to his normal self by the next morning, he was totally transformed from a weak, gray in color baby to the smiling boy with rosy cheeks that we all knew and loved. (We were later told that he would have gone into a coma that evening if we had not brought him into the doctor’s office, that day. His blood sugars were so HIGH and he was so dehydrated). He was the youngest person to be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the state of Alaska. After a week in hospital Matthew was released, we were so grateful to the hospital and the nursing staff, but as you know if you are a diabetic that was just the beginning. We had to learn how to give Matthew his two injections a day, count his carbs, and check his blood glucose, as well as a list of other things to do when dealing with diabetes.
16 ½ years later, Matthew is now 18, today he is healthy, happy and doing well at college, we moved from Swansea in the United Kingdom 12 years ago for me to teach and later become the dean of culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University, based in Charlotte, North Carolina. The whole family are happy to be here and are enjoying the experience of living in America. Matthew is now on the insulin pump, which has made his life a bit easier. He and his two brothers, Jonathan and James also enjoy helping me in the kitchen. He eats a normal but nutritious diet, I’m so proud of him and how he is coping with his diabetes.
We don’t see his condition as a problem, but as a challenge, that if controlled properly will make Matthew a much stronger person as he grows and takes responsibility for his own health and wellbeing. Changing our eating habits also changed my interest in food to more nutrition focused, which took me to my present position of director of culinary nutrition at the Dole Food Company. I’ve built my career on only working with the very best people and very best food products in my 36 years in culinary arts. I’m glad to say this continues as Dole provides some of the best quality fruits and vegetables in the world. I also work out of one of the best research centers in the world, the North Carolina Research Campus, dedicated to the advancement of nutrition, agriculture and human health. Scientists from universities, industry, government and non-profit organizations are finding new ways to promote healthy lifestyles and to prevent, treat and cure the most prevalent diseases of our times like cancer, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s and other diet and lifestyle-related disorders. I really believe after 36 years in culinary, I’ve finally found my true calling in life, working with whole plant based foods, developing, healthy delicious recipes that everyone can use at home. Most of my recipes have evolved from my home kitchen, cooking alongside my three boys, working together as a family, chatting and laughing as we make delicious, healthy meals that we all enjoy.