Stress is Con’s only stumbling block when it comes to diabetes

Con Leontsinis (centre) loves his life, and he's not going to let type 2 diabetes cast a shadow over it.


As with most contented people, Con is grateful to those who have made his life good.


Kathy, his wife of 50 years, gets a special mention: "My wife cooks good meals. She makes sure the house is sparkling and Kathy always does the right thing to look after me. Our son Nicholas always keeps an eye out for both me and his mum.


"My family doctor is very good, too. He takes good care of me."


The fit and slim 74-year-old, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2016, calls himself a "fruitologist".


He gets up at 2am every day and starts work at the Brisbane Markets in Rocklea by 3am. Con, together with his brother-in-law Vasili and his son Nicholas, own a fruit and vegetable wholesale business that provides restaurants, cafes, and other catering businesses with fresh produce.


"I've always been very active," he said. "I've worked in the fruit and vegetable business since 1968."


Among other shops, he owned "Con the Fruiterer" shop in Albany Creek, a well-loved Brisbane landmark for many years before selling and buying into the Brisbane Markets.


Con has always had a healthy diet, rich in vegetables and fish, even as a young man in Kythera, Greece.


He developed type 2 diabetes after he underwent a triple heart bypass in March 2016.


"All the time I was in hospital if people asked what I did, I'd say I was a specialist," Con said with an easy laugh. "A fruitologist. It's like a gastroenterologist, only fresher!" The heart surgeon was thoroughly amused.


Con measures his blood glucose levels (BGLs) every morning and his last HbA1c was 6.7%.


Con's big challenge in managing his diabetes is if he gets upset, his BGLs spike to 9mmol/L and more. He tries to stay calm, but there's only so much that willpower can control.


His family recently endured a shock upset, and his BGLs went sky high.


"People came up to me at the markets and said they knew how upset I was, but they admired the way I tried to stay cheerful and friendly.


"'Good on you, Con', they'd say."


[From the Diabetes Queensland Health Team: Despite best efforts with food, exercise and medication, many people living with type 2 diabetes will experience changes to their BGLs during times of stress. This is normal, but if these changes become the norm, talk to your GP or diabetes educator. Latest research shows that fishing, card games or other social activities can be helpful for men during times of emotional upset or stress.]    

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