Former Fine Gael TD, Ray Butler, has revealed the sobering moment he looked into a massive bag of medication that had been prescribed by his doctor and said to himself, ‘Ray you are killing yourself this has to stop or you will die!’
The life changing decision came in late 2015 when the 6’1 Butler was weighing in at a massive 22 stone, and had just been diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes.
Fast forward six years and the Kells native tips the scales at a trim 14st 7lbs and is enjoying a completely new lease of life.
Speaking exclusively to Meath Live, Butler revealed the turning point came courtesy of some of the girls in his office when he was a TD.
‘One of the girls brought in a blood pressure testing kit and they kept egging me on to use it and see what my blood pressure was like, but of course typical man, I was all right, what did I need my blood pressure checked for, but one day I agreed to do it and BOOM it was through the roof.
‘They thought it might just have been a bad day but checked again a few days later and it was just as bad, so down I went to Dr George Doyle in Trim and he brought my world crumbling down when he told me I had type 2 diabetes.
‘He told me that slowly but surely I was reducing my life span and wrote out a prescription for tablets that was as long as the Book Of Kells and when I came out of the chemist with this absolutely massive bag of tablets I knew I had a simple choice to make, change or die.’
The reality was there was no choice at all, the lifestyle change had to happen, and never a man to do things by half Butler dived in head first.
He recalls, ‘ I was a crisps and chipaholic so those two had to go immediately and that wasn’t easy, I had cravings for them, really bad ones at that, there were nights I could scarcely sleep, it was hell on earth, you know what if my fingers were salty I’d have eaten them!
‘But I stuck with it, started to do a little bit of jogging, swimming and fast walking, I made sure I didn’t go hungry though, but I cut out all the carbs like white bread and potatoes and the junk food was totally out the window.
‘Six months later I went back for a check up and an amazing thing happened, you know how when you are in a doctors waiting room and he looks round the corner to call you in, he actually called out, ‘Ray Butler’ because he didn’t recognize me as I had lost three stone.
‘I got my bloods done and found that the diabetes had been reversed, it had gone, disappeared, the cholesterol was perfect and the blood pressure was normal and basically the lifestyle change had transformed me.
‘Overall I have lost eight stone in the six years and I feel much better for it.’
Reflecting as to what might have caused the problem initially Butler believes modern technology had some part to play.
‘My mother God be good to her was a great cook, but crucially everything was fresh, these days there are an abundance of fast food joints and also it is handier if you had a busy lifestyle to geta microwave dinner rather than prepare one properly.’
Ray reveals the reason he has gone public on his battle with the bulge is because a large number of people may well be walking around with diabetes and not even be aware of it, and he wants those who do know they have it to be aware he can lend them a friendly ear.
‘The stats show that over 400,000 Irish people have a form of diabetes and reports suggest that as many as 300, 000 are walking around not knowing they have it, that is the thing about the disease there are no symptoms it just hits you all of a sudden and you don’t know you have it until it is nearly too late.
‘If anyone out there is concerned they may be a diabetic or needs some advice on what to do if they have been diagnosed with it then they can look me up on my Facebook page and I will do what I can to help’.
Politically Butler is in abeyance, a TD between 2011 and 2016 and a Senator from then until 2020 he admits he misses certain aspects of it.
‘I miss the buzz of satisfaction you get when someone comes up and says thanks for helping me, I always got a buzz out of that.’
So has politics seen the last of Ray Butler ?
‘I always say never say never, that’s all I’ll say on that.’