Bill is from Michigan and was diagnosed with diabetes when he was an infant. He is angry with himself that he ever accepted that first cigarette from a teenage friend and that he waited so long to quit smoking. "When I was 15, I started smoking. It was stupid—one of the things I still regret doing. I thought I was going to be cool like my buddies."
Bill says he learned the hard way that smoking makes diabetes harder to control. "Doctors always told me to quit smoking. I didn't listen." At 37, Bill had kidney failure. He now needs dialysis treatments 12 hours a week to filter his blood the way his kidneys used to—before they stopped functioning properly. Smoking cigarettes contributed to all of these problems.
"Then they took my leg," he says. In 2011, at the age of 39, he had his leg amputated due to poor circulation—made worse from smoking. "That's the scariest thing—to wake up after surgery, to reach down to feel for your leg, and there's nothing there." That was the day Bill quit smoking.
Bill says his life has changed dramatically. Although he is still very active, he says it's difficult to climb stairs, play sports, and do some activities with his wife and four children.
Bill urges young people to never start smoking. "If I was young again, I would never smoke," he says. "It's not good for your health or your pocketbook. It doesn't make you look cool, and it doesn't help you in any way!" He also regrets the example he set for his children. "It's embarrassing when your 5-year-old asks you why you don't quit smoking. Yes, my children saw me smoke. I'm glad they saw me quit!"
Bill, 40, Michigan; diagnosed with diabetes; has other health problems, too
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