Monday, February 26, 2018

Don't Let Diabetes Limit You




When Michael Parks was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 22, he was an active young man. He played college hockey for Finlandia and was just starting his junior year of college and had two years of nursing school in. Despite having the nursing experience, it took Michael a while to figure out what was going on with his body.

“Prior to diagnosis, I had a shoulder injury requiring surgery. Shortly after surgery (about 6 weeks), I started experiencing extreme thirst, frequent urination, and weight loss (about 15 lbs). I remember the symptoms being very intense. I was getting up 4-6 times per night to use the restroom. I also felt very tired. It was a hot humid summer, so I blamed it on the weather. I would walk up the stairs with my hands on my knees, just to give me extra help to get up the stairs. I then started to know something was wrong. But, even with two years of nursing school under my belt and heading in to my junior year at Finlandia, I never once thought that I had type 1 diabetes.”

“I was hospitalized one night (when first diagnosed). As they gave me IV fluids and insulin to lower my sugar, it was amazing how the feeling to urinate subsided. I had a lot of family visitors and my girlfriend, now wife by my side. I think initially, everyone had a more difficult time with it then I did as I believe I was in shock. It finally struck home for me when I was discharged with so many questions and then had to pick up all my supplies and insulin at the pharmacy. That’s where I broke down and realized this was forever.”

Michael had no history of type 1 diabetes that he was aware of but did have a family history of other autoimmune disorders. The diagnoses came as a bit of a shock.

“At first, I had so many questions. In the hospital, I was taught to give my injections, treat low blood sugar, and what foods would affect my blood sugar. I remember everyone talking about low blood sugar, but I did not have one in the hospital. When I got home, I was wondering what it would feel like. Then the first one happened. I did not like it, but knowing what it felt like, I knew that I could handle it.”

“Also at the beginning, I was doing very basic insulin dosing, correctional scale only (only covering for his blood sugar when it was out of the target range- which can vary but generally between 80 and 180). I was doing what everyone told me to do. However every time I ate something my sugar would go over 300. Within being home for a week, I also developed this white looking tongue. At that point, I got nervous and talked to our good friend and neighbor, June Wickstrom, who is a nurse. She asked me about my insulin plan and told me I likely had thrush (yeast infection) on my tongue from high sugar levels. She then set me up with Dr. Grossman and his diabetes educator Marli Carlson. They got me on a long acting insulin, taught me about carb counting, and lifestyle management. After that, I felt so much more confident, I was able to keep my blood sugar levels within reason, and for the first time I thought ‘I can do this.’ Within 1 month after diagnosis, I was back at school and playing college hockey.”

Michael has learned to live with diabetes and has been lucky to have a great support system. He has also turned what he has learned living with diabetes into a career as a diabetes educator and enjoys working with others living with the same disease.

“A support system is huge. My family, my wife, and my friends have always been there for me. I even get a lot of support and questions from my 3 year old daughter. I think it has made shots easier for her since she watches her dad do so many. Diabetes is one of those diseases where you can’t take days off. Everything we do every day impacts our blood glucose control and out long term outcomes. So with that, it adds high levels of stress, anxiety, and often depression. Without family and friend to support us, it would be too easy to give up and stop trying.”

 “I am very open about my diagnosis. It is nothing that I am ashamed of. I have found a way to be at peace with my disease, living a very normal lifestyle, with a few extra daily tasks. I look at diabetes as something that I have accepted and live with. I will never say I can’t do something because I have diabetes. I simply just bring my diabetes with me for whatever I do.  I love trying to teach people who are struggling with their disease, to help give them some freedom within this disease and increase their quality of life.”

“I was not involved in diabetes education prior to my diagnosis. I had just finished my second year of nursing school, and had never thought about working with diabetes.

My first nursing job, I worked in an Emergency Department (ED) in Mount Pleasant, MI. We had a few people that presented with new type 1 diabetes, and they had me bring my meter and shots to show them. By doing this and showing them the things I was able to accomplish with T1D, it put them at ease. After seeing that and feeling so good about helping someone, I started thinking about a career teaching people about diabetes. I still did continue to get other experience as a nurse, but always kept the idea of being a diabetes educator on the back burner. After working ED, Cath Lab, and ICU as a nurse, an opportunity to work as the Inpatient Diabetes Educator at UPHS-Marquette arose and I was able to accept and have been working with diabetes since.”

Michael has turned being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes into a positive and has been able to help many newly diagnosed diabetics onto a more stable path. Diabetes can be a scary prognosis for people to deal with and Michael uses his personal knowledge to educate his patients.

 “When I teach newly diagnosed children and their families, I always tell them that diabetes is not a limiting disease. The sooner you take control of diabetes, accept the plan, get follow, get educated and continue to get educated, the less likely diabetes will ever control you.”

Monday, February 19, 2018

Keeping Diabetes at Bay


Now is the perfect time to start preventing yourself from becoming another type 2 diabetes statistic. One out of three adults has prediabetes that, left untreated, can turn into type 2 diabetes. Nearly 90% of those adults don’t even know that they have prediabetes. Luckily for adults here in the U.P., there are classes offered to help keep type 2 diabetes at bay.

Diabetes Prevention Weight Loss Programs (DPP) are being offered in many communities across the U.P. The National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) is an evidence-based lifestyle change program which has been demonstrated to delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes among people at high risk. The program, designed to support lifestyle balance, healthy eating, physical activity and exercise, and motivational support. The program is delivered by a trained Lifestyle Coach, who facilitates the approved curriculum and works to encourage and sustain group interaction so that participants support each other during the year-long program.

Tracey Hamilton is participating in a DPP class that is being held at the Negaunee Senior Center. Tracey was at risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. She joined the class to get weight loss support and has benefited greatly from the class. The goal for the class is to lose between 5 and 7% of their body weight. Tracey has lost 6% since beginning the class.

With the help and support of the DPP class, Tracey has been able to learn many healthy habits that will hopefully stick with her even after the class is completed. She found the class to be most helpful in “what to look for when reading food labels and how to substitute higher calorie food with lower calorie options.” Tracey has also found ways to “cut down on portion sizes and she has cut way back on snacking, especially sweets” and was able to find success and lose weight. She feels that the program has “helped improve her health” and she feels much better than before she began the class.

Think a Diabetes Prevention class might be what you need to help keep type 2 diabetes at bay? Please call 2-1-1 to see if a program is starting up in your area.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Diabetes PATH Program






Sometimes having diabetes is no FUN!! Do you ever feel overwhelmed about everything you have to do to take care of your diabetes? Are your family members or friends acting like the ‘diabetes police’ – telling you what you should and should not do?



Learning more about diabetes and attending a Diabetes PATH program can help you take care of your diabetes and stay healthy. Developed by Stanford University, the Diabetes PATH program can help you make changes that are important to you to better manage your diabetes. Studies have shown that attending the Diabetes PATH program can help you:

·         Feel better

·         Talk more easily with your health care providers about your diabetes

·         Make food choices that help keep your blood sugar in a healthy range.

·         Be more confident in caring for your diabetes.



What is Diabetes PATH?

·         Program that meets once a week for 6 weeks.

·         Designed for people with diabetes, their families and care givers.

·         Covers diabetes self-management topics such as healthy eating, physical activity, sick day management, foot care, medications, managing high and low blood sugars, and working with health care providers.

·         Helps people set action plans to achieve their personal goals

·         Works with regular medical care like Medical Nutrition Therapy and Diabetes Self-Management Education; it does not replace any services.



Where do I find a Diabetes PATH program?

·         It is offered in many places across the U.P., often in the spring and fall.

·         Call 2-1-1 for information about programs in your areas.

·         Diabetes PATH is FREE in most areas.