Shifting to Wellness with Diabetes
Imagine sitting in your physician’s office and being told, “You have type 2 diabetes.” It’s a diagnosis that more than 30 million Americans have confronted. Hanna Thomsen, RD, LD, dietitian for the Diabetes Self-Management Education Program at TriHealth’s McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital, recognizes how overwhelmed patients feel at the beginning of their diabetic journey. “There’s a lot to this disease,” she says. “It’s a drastic change. It effects every cell in your body.” She and Dana Streight, RN, are educators who equip patients with skills that transform anxiety over a diagnosis into confidence that wellness is still attainable.
“There’s so much for a patient to learn and to consider when having a diagnosis of diabetes,” says Streight, who teaches patients about their medications. “Patient education is one of my favorite responsibilities as a nurse. If I can help someone feel a little more comfortable and confident with diabetes or have that moment where it “clicks,” I feel so lucky to experience that with them.”
Learning to Thrive
The Diabetes Self-Management Education Program is a half-day seminar for patients (four per session) who have received referrals from their doctors. Each patient is invited to bring one support person—a spouse, friend or caregiver.
The program starts with individual assessments of medical history, eating habits, physical activity and medications. Next, key components of life with diabetes— medication, nutrition, monitoring, exercise and the emotional aspect of the disease—are addressed in a group setting. Lifestyle strategies (think travel, dining out, even negotiating relationships) and mindset are also discussed. “The holistic care of a patient is just as important as the medical care,” says Streight.
Patients receive healthy doses of encouragement for months afterward in phone calls, informative emails and an optional follow- up meeting. Soon, patients realize diabetes is “a drastic change, but a manageable one,” says Thomsen. “They return excited, saying, ‘This has been the catalyst to improve my life and health.’”
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and a serious concern for the more than 30 million Americans who have it. About 1 in 3 American adults has prediabetes, which puts them at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease and stroke. Of those adults, 8 in 10 don’t know they’re prediabetic. So it’s important to understand both the steps you can take to prevent type 2 diabetes and its symptoms.
3 steps to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes:
- Eat a healthy diet, including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins, like fish, chicken and pork.
- Be more active, aiming for at least 150 minutes every week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (for example, 30 minutes a day of brisk walking, five days a week).
- If you’re overweight, drop excess pounds—eating healthy and exercising more will help with this goal.
If you experience these symptoms, talk to your doctor:
- Needing to urinate much more, including at night
- Losing weight without trying
- Feeling hungry much more often
- Blurred vision
- Excessively dry skin
- Numb or tingling hands or feet
- Feeling tired much of the time
- Sores that don’t heal or heal slowly
- Becoming suddenly more susceptible to infections.
to learn more about the diabetes self-management education program at MCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital, call 513 524 5555.
Last Updated: April 14, 2021