Complete Transcript: Leon Thom

Leon Thom

Hello, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Leon Thom and I’m a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. Born in 1928, both my mother and father are Native American. My mother was Calapuya and father was Umpqua and Rogue River.

I’m here to talk about diabetes. I have been retired from my employment for sixteen years and it seems like that’s when everything fell in for me. I developed Diabetes and asthma and it is kind of hard for me to understand that, but the thing is I accepted it. I didn’t have any desire to give up. More of an incentive to go and battle it. And it takes discipline, is I think I want to use the word. Once you learn how to understand discipline and practice it, that is the most important battle. From then on, you have to watch your food and calories. Soda water, I do not approve of soda water for any rhyme or reason. I think the creator put water her to use, and that is one of the essential ingredients of your everyday life.

So we will get on with the word discipline. I’d like to emphasize this with the younger generation. I’d like to see some kind of a program from kindergarten all the way up to make them aware of diabetes. I think it is number three or number four disease that takes a good portion of the population now. So I would like to urge all the programs, whether public or private, to make people aware of the devastating effects it has on the person, your providers, your medical and your parents. I think the thing is if you listen to your parents and your provider.

Exercise is the most important thing. I am not sure if I am saying this right, but I do know it does have a good percentage effect on wellness, more so than medicine. Medicine helps. I might be out of line there, but I think exercise will keep your weight down and learn how to discipline your everyday habits. Every day not just three or four times a week. I guess that’s fine, but again I say I think 7 days a week, if possible. If not possible, then you should kind of make a schedule so it could be possible.

Track 2:

00:11  I’d like to talk a little bit more about when I became aware of diabetic disease.  For a while it kind of stopped me and just a little while. I’m going to say five or ten minutes. If you let it get you for 8 hours or for 24 or 48 hours, then I think you are going to go into a depression moaning about it, so I would, my thing is to just start thinking positive. Get help, medical help, advice. Have someone line you out on your medical intake, whether  you have to have insulin, or oral medicine, get lined out on that, and start the battle right off the bat.

01:11  When I first became aware of my illness, the symptoms, I guess you could say I am a slow learner, because for two weeks, I just felt really no energy. You wonder what is wrong with you because you lived an invigorating life all the time you been here on earth, and then all of a sudden, you run into a wall. So the best thing is to go and get medical advice. Find out the routine on whatever they diagnose you with, whether it be heart trouble, liver, diabetes, whatever the illness that you have. And start your program from there and stay with it religiously.

By that, I mean you medication whenever it scheduled for your intake, day or night, be discipline on that and do it. The people know what they are talking about and they give you so much medicine to take and that’s the one item that you really have to have and be a believer in what they hand to you.

Q - How is it you were able to turn it around?

3:32 Yes, I didn’t let it get a hold of me. I didn’t say, “Oh, the heck with it. I will go and do this on my own.” There is no such thing as “Doing it on your own.” You have to have help. So my advise to people is as soon as you find you are diagnosed with diabetes or any particular disease is to get help immediately. And whatever they proscribe for you to do is to follow it up and stay with it and we talked about discipline and that is what you have to do, it is your responsibility to yourself.

04:40  Some of the diseases you can’t win, but you can sure prolong your life and your style of life you want to maintain and that is following your schedule that your medical team has proscribed for you.

Q - these young people - prevention?

05:17 I live on this reservation here at Grand Ronde and this program is one of the, I think, one of the premier programs in the state of Oregon for Native Americans. And I would really like to emphasize on the children, infants, right on up into high school, college, through your life. So I would just again I am going to say if we can get our young people interested and understanding that the devastating effect it has not only on the patient, but the patient’s brothers and sisters, mother and father, the whole family, by that I mean aunts and uncles, everybody included. And everybody has to lend a hand for the child, for the infant, and pitch in and help get the infant and child on the right track and understand that if they want to be an asset in the community while they are growing up, they are going to have to be well, a good clear mind, know how to live in the community, by that I mean no smoking, alcohol, drugs of any kind. Be especially aware of the abuse on the alcohol and drugs and tobacco, and you will be fine if you can learn how to handle that.

07:32  The other thing is exercise any chance you can get. PE classes, Football, basketball, vigorous activity on the playground. So you can learn how to eat and grow up to be good and healthy, strong body, strong mind. And above all, be able to stand up there and smile and talk with the community. Don’t be backwards. Stand up there and express the fact that you are disciplined on your disease and you would like to help other people control their disease also.

So have you known young children that have diabetes.

No, I haven’t. Mostly the older.

Track 3:

I’d like to start this other part of my interview is about the exercise, my own personal thing for myself for myself is I played quite a bit of ball all throughout my life from probably third grade all the way up through high school, so it wasn’t all that bad for me to get back on the track of exercise. The other thing about that is I am very active on my job employment, and just about everything I done was physical. So that helped me a great deal after when I found out that I did have diabetes. It wasn’t a big deal for me to go through the transition of learning how to stay active.

01:25 Most of that is walking. I walk on the average of 40 minutes every day. Everyday it is not possible to do it everyday, but six or seven days a week. Bicycle. I do bicycling and also I am active in square dancing now. That is another good calorie eater upper. Whatever you want to call it.

02:12  So that is the thing to watch your food. They have a schedule for you, your intake. All the good stuff that you’ve eaten all your life is, you might just as well slam the door shut the window on that, because you are not going to help yourself if you still maintain you’re your diet, so you have to be able to discipline yourself.

2:45 Some people say, I heard them say over and over, I just can’t do it. It just doesn’t taste right. But I’m telling you, you throw the word taste out of your vocabulary and out of your mind. You just do it whether you like it or not. One or two weeks and you will be fine. Never look back. You have to be positive in your mind, whenever you look at your plate and say “This is my healing process. If I stay with this, I am going to be fine. It is the positive note. Positive thinking. Positive living right on up through your exercises. Whatever activities you can do.

03:45  Above all is the alcohol and drugs. The drug abuse, it just isn’t good for anything. I don’t care what anybody says. There’s not many people on the right track that is going to say it is good for you. It is negative. So once you think about the food that is not good for you. Just learn to live an ordinary good clean life.

04:40 Visit your church every Sunday...

Track 4:

00:00 I’d like to express that the program here is a very good program. And I urge each and every reservation, I’m sure they all have their programs, but I would advise them to, what is the word I want to use is double up on discipline, get children interested in a good clean life. I think most of our instructors are doing that. They are trying their best to make the children understand.

01:00  I don’t know if I should say this or not, but I would like the parents to perk up when I talk about the... The teachers are there for your child’s benefit. This might sound a little harsh. They don’t have to be babysitters. That’s your job. Nice clean clothes. Brush their teeth. And when the boy or girl gets in a little problem at school that you go down to your school and you walk in there. I want you to find out the problem. If the child is in the wrong, then you back the teacher up. So that child will understand he is not going to get off the hook.

02:22  I’m going to use the word discipline. And once they learn how to discipline himself throughout his life, he will be fine. Once again, I’m going to use the word discipline . If the child is in the wrong, you find out. Make that child understand there is rules and regulations to the household, the school and your community. There is rules and regulations. Enforce them so the child will know which way to go when he enters his life and starts his family. He will understand by just looking back at how his parents raised him, and the teachers, or the instructors, the school, whatever policy they got is for them to understand they got to learn, not to see what they can get away with.  I bet they are not going to like that.

Track 5:

Well I would again, I am going to express the fact of the enthusiasm that the child has for the playground, for his little neighbor, whether it is male or female that sits beside him on the school ground or in the room is to be aware of that person’s feelings. How you do, and talk about we hear and see on video actual the bullyness on the playground and the school buses. It is a very ugly picture for anybody to look at, for bullies to be bullying other children.

01:10  I don’t know, I guess maybe if you have to take the bully, the child and the parents and you put them through six or seven weeks on training on how to act, how to treat each other. Find out if it needs a little improvement at home, with the child, with the teacher with the school, with the community, but be a little aware of that subject, bullyness and get it taken care of. Start some kind of an exercise, gym class whatever.

But you have to have cooperation with the parents so your child will get back on the trail that winds through the forest and see mother nature, visit mother nature, whatever it is, so you can life with the world and be happy. Smile. The smile is the biggest thing, if everybody could learn to smile when you first leave the door of your house. Walk down the street and say hello, good morning, good bye. Just be aware of the human lives that you touch all though your life and then it would be a better world to live in.

Track 6 :

I am going to emphasize a little bit more on the parenting. That is where it all begins at home with your child. You instruct your children to be polite. Acknowledge other people, the elders, just be a good person in life. And it all begins at home.

We have the life nowadays is a lot better than it was when I was a youngster. We know more, our technology is a lot better than we had 60 years ago, and it is getting better. But the only thing we have to do is for our instructors to do a better job to try to do a better job to make the parents understand that in order for the children to live in the community, and live a good life a clean life, then it has to start at home. The children cannot come home from school, especially your kindergarten age, first second third grades, come home to a couple of people sitting around the table with cans of stuff sitting around, bottles of stuff sitting around. It is just not a good sight for that child to see.

02:07  The thing is you yourself, the parents I am talking about,  have to be able to answer any question the child has. You should be able to talk to him with a straight mind. Ask him how he done in school today. How can we make it better, more interesting.

You have to live your life for your child by providing a home. Clean environment. Good clean home, clean clothes, everything creator put on earth to be used for human life. We all talk about creator and what he done for Native American through 300 years of struggle.

The people didn’t know that they had such a struggle we had. It was just a struggle. That’s what we call it now. But then everybody went out and provided intake for the summer. Food that was good for you. It was all good for you because it was raised by nature, Creator. We didn’t have all these bags of commercial fertilizer spread out and poison mother earth. It was there by the creator was established for the human and the animals to live.

And so here we are today. We can go down to McDonald’s anyplace, and get a handful of poison, you can form an opinion on the fast food french fries, whatever it is you have out there. I think the school should be more disciplined on their intake for children. They say they don’t like that. Well there are a lot of things. That is where you discipline yourself and put it out there and be a slim and trim nation.

Track 7:

When I was growing up, this is my own family, my own thing. It wasn’t as bad as some of the poverty around me. I have always had food. I never experienced hunger. I really don’t know what it would be like to be hungry.

I want to get on a little further here. There was, in all communities, there are people that can’t provide the right ingredients for the food intake. They can’t provide that for their children, or for themselves, because the word poverty is pretty sad. I think I was probably 4 or 5 or 6 years old, but we always had food on the table. Whether there was wild game. Back in those days you went out and got what you needed. So I had a pretty good life.

01:42   And there again, I want to say, the other people in the community didn’t have it all that great. Families that had 13 14 15 children in them days, they had quite a struggle.

Q -

02:06  Well , yes the other people out there, they went out and got, you know. You go and hunt for deer and elk. Fish. We ate a lot of fish when I was a kid growing up. We lie close to the pacific ocean here , about 25 miles the way the crow flies. So it wasn’t bad to have food on all year long. You salted all your fish so you had fish in the winter time.

Your potatoes and vegetables that you could keep in the cellar. It was actually, we thought it was luxury. Today. It was a struggle. Now you can just go and take it off the shelf and take it home and 5 or ten minutes you have a meal. It may not have been as good as Mother Nature but I don’t believe it is good for your system. I think the food producers need to do a better job of putting the food out that will make you stay in proportion to your health. By that I mean, you don’t eat too much starch, or fat, whatever, just the world obesity is not a kind word to even think about or say. And it is rampant here in the USA right now. Things are so easy in the United States of America that we all love so dearly. But I think we are a spoiled nation. It is so much easier than nations that are still struggling to feed their nation.