By Kathy Hubbard
“The light bulb just lit up when I was diagnosed as pre-diabetes,” a friend told me the other day over lunch. “My father died of complications of the disease, and he was first diagnosed when he was my age. So, I’ve changed my diet, I’ve lost weight, and I’m exercising more.”
And, she is going to attend this year’s Diabetes Day at Bonner General Health’s Health Services Building (423 N. Third Ave.) on Monday, November 4 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Besides snacks and door prizes (best reason for attending, right?) there will be experts on hand to answer all your questions about this disease that affects over nine percent of the population in the U.S.
“I really want to encourage people with type 1 diabetes to come this year,” Audrey Buck, BGH’s certified diabetes educator and registered licensed dietitian. “Tandem will be there with their pump integrated with Dexcom continuous glucose monitor that automatically turns off insulin when blood sugar is going low.”
Typically people with diabetes check their blood glucose levels by putting a small drop of blood into a monitor. This involves sticking ones’ self with a lancet to get that blood. A continuous glucose monitor is a small, wearable sensor and transmitter that sends the glucose numbers to a smart device or receiver.
How does this work? I’ll tell you it’s magic, but if you come to Diabetes Day, you’ll get the truth. Buck said that the “newer sensor-augmented insulin pumps are helping people with diabetes achieve great blood sugars.”
She also told me that all three insulin pump companies would be there, including Medtronic, with the 670G pump, which automatically adjusts basal insulin based on sensor glucose, and Insulet will be there with Omnipod which is a pod pump without tubing.
“It will also be a good time to learn about newer medications that are available for all types of diabetes. Novo Nordisk will be there with info about their newly approved GLP-1 drug. A BGH pharmacist will assist with questions about meds while Peggy O’Sullivan from Kaniksu Health will be able to discuss affordability and answer questions about their drug plan,” Buck said.
The cast of characters who will be on hand with tons of information includes former co-workers of Buck’s who are experts on the subject of diabetes. People like Mary Kaiser, RD, Susan Tucker, CDE, RD, Andrew Coyle, RD, Lori Stone, and Jan Temple. And, Jody Thoreson, RN, CDE will be there performing foot checks.
Speaking of foot checks, Dr. Jonathan Fisher’s staff will be at Diabetes Screening Day with information about foot care for diabetes and diabetic shoes. “Medicare patients with certain foot conditions can get shoes paid for by Medicare,” Buck explained.
Buck’s info sheet says that Family Health Center and Panhandle Health are providing free A1C tests. I know a bit about this simple blood test, so I was curious if someone who was wondering whether or not they were one of the more than 23 million people who haven’t been diagnosed yet could come in for the test. And, the short answer is yes. The long answer is that only your primary healthcare provider can diagnose the disease and advise you on a treatment plan.
The American Diabetes Association describes the A1C test as a powerhouse. “It can identify prediabetes, which raises your risk for diabetes. It can be used to diagnose diabetes. And it’s used to monitor how well your diabetes treatment is working overtime. It’s also a critical step in forming your game plan to manage diabetes.”
Your chances for pre-diabetes increase if you are over 45, have a parent or sibling with diabetes, are overweight, are physically inactive, have high blood pressure and low HDL cholesterol and/or high triglycerides. Come talk to Nanci Jenkins, RD, from Panhandle Health about her diabetes prevention classes.
And, last but not least, staff members of Steve Anderson’s dental office will be there with two-fold information. First, about how to prevent gum disease, a common risk for those with diabetes, and second they’ll have info about oral appliances for obstructive sleep apnea, which is also a risk factor for diabetes.
There’s a lot more than I have room for, so just put it on your calendar right now for next Monday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and be there.
Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.