Health Makeover for Gladys
Gladys Eckel knew the devastating effects of diabetes after watching several family members battle the disease. So when Gladys learned that she, too, had diabetes during a routine doctor’s visit, she was determined to take a different path.
“I didn’t have any symptoms, but after the diagnosis I said, ‘I’m not going to allow this to take over my life. It’s not an option,’ ” Gladys said. “My mother had her legs amputated…I’m not going down that road.”
Fate intervened when she spotted a LiveWell magazine article about the Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) training offered through the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing. The five-week program focuses on diet, nutrition, and other lifestyle changes to better manage the disease.
For Gladys, it was a life saver.
“I was really skeptical in the beginning,” she said. “But I stayed the course and in that timeframe, I learned a lot and thought, ‘Oh, this might just work.’ It’s been about two years now, and it is working.”
DSME, a benefit under Medicare and most insurance companies, is designed to educate participants and help improve their quality of life. Considered a medical standard of care, the training is vital to managing the disease, said Tracy Garrett, the Center’s diabetes program coordinator and a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator.
“Most of the individuals that I come in contact with are unaware of the magnitude of impact that behavior changes can have,” Tracy said.
In addition to Gladys participating in the classes, she and her husband Ken began exercising daily and dramatically changed their diets. They have lost a combined 200 pounds, and Gladys was grateful for the education on diabetes she received from Tracy. Gladys also keeps a daily food journal, tracking calories, sugars and carbohydrates to help her stay on track.
She and Ken eat out once a month, that’s their treat. Gladys also plays cards every Sunday and that’s her “free” day. “It’s a free day, but not a free-for-all day,” Gladys said. “I might have a few bites of cake.”
Gladys also turned to Tracy for guidance about her medication, and Tracy worked with her physician make a change for the better, which included being able to completely stop taking one of her medications, following a consult with the doctor’s office.
“Had it not been for Tracy educating me the way she did and taking an interest the way she did, I don’t know what would have happened,” Gladys said. “I would tell people, ‘Take an interest in yourself. You’re the only one that can change this.’ ”