A year ago, James Cook, of Hillsboro, visited his healthcare provider in the Rural Health Clinic for pain and numbness in his feet. Family Nurse Practitioner Donna Lidel-Burley ordered an A1C for Cook. His results came back, showing a blood sugar level over 10. An A1C is a three-month average of one’s blood sugar and is an indicator of diabetes. If an A1C level is between 5.7 and 6.5, it indicates prediabetes – if lifestyle changes are not made, diabetes will eventually develop. An A1C level of 6.5 or above indicates a diabetes diagnosis. Cook’s results decidedly showed that he was now one of the 11% in Pocahontas County with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Not included in this statistic are the many folks who are at risk for diabetes or have prediabetes or simply do not know that they have diabetes. Nearly 26 million people in the United States have diabetes, and it is estimated that as many as one in every three adults will have the disease by the year 2050.
When Cook learned he had diabetes, he was adamant that he did not want to take medication to help with his diabetes and instead began to seriously implement lifestyle changes. Cook attended B-N Charge classes, led by PMH’s Certified Diabetes Educator Terry Wagner. Over several months, he learned how to take better care of his health and manage his diagnosis.
A year later, Cook has lost 74 pounds and his latest A1C result came back as a 5. Cook has made strict changes to his lifestyle.
“I watch it every day,” he said, describing a typical day that starts with working out on his treadmill or stationary bicycle for 30 minutes. Later in the day, he will get in another 30 minutes. And by bedtime, Cook’s goal is to have exercised for two hours in some way.
“He’s a role model,” Lidel-Burley said of her patient.
Cook has also changed his eating and cooking methods.
“I couldn’t do it without my wife,” he said.
His wife has also lost weight since adopting a more diabetes friendly diet.
Cook is a wonderful example of how receiving a diabetes diagnosis can change a life for the better. Cook looks much younger than his years and has more energy throughout his day.
“Having diabetes is not a matter of depriving yourself of things; it is adding choices that are healthy,” Wagner said.
Wagner has helped hundreds of diabetes patients through the years.
Cook received all of his care at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital.
For anyone in our community struggling with diabetes or pre-diabetes, please consider reaching out to our Rural Health Clinic or our Diabetes Education Department on how you can change your own lifestyle to manage diabetes.
PMH hosts a Diabetes Support Group on the third Tuesday of each month. Join us on Tuesday, February 18, for our next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are a time of education and fellowship. PMH will also hold a free three week series of diabetes cooking classes on March 3, 10 and 17 for anyone who wants to learn more about cooking in a diabetes friendly manner.
For more information about the Support Group or diabetes education at PMH, contact Terry Wagner at 304-799-7400. You may also visit our website at www.pmh wv.org/pmhdiabetes to learn more about the many opportunities we offer for education and support.