By MARC STEWART
I am a diabetic.
I've been living in denial about the disease — even after I buried my father, who died from diabetes two years ago. I haven't lost weight or bothered to really control my blood sugars. I take daily medications for diabetes and high blood pressure. I give myself daily injections of insulin.
I have pushed diabetes to the back of mind. Amputations, loss of vision and dialysis were things way down the road. Despite these horrific consequences of a disease that kills millions of Americans, I indulged in ice cream, French fries and lemonade last summer.
I would rationalize it all by believing that I had plenty of time to address the problem.
Only I didn't. Not too long ago, a doctor at urgent care actually yelled at me.
“Do you want to die of a heart attack!?! We're going to start cutting pieces of you off in the very near future if you don't do something immediately!”
The words still ring in my ears. I know I have to lose 50 to 80 pounds. I know I have to change my eating habits dramatically to spare myself and my family a terrible fate.
It won't be easy. Left to my own devices, I don't work out. I make excuses. I am tired, no time. Tomorrow I will do better. That bread is sooo good. Cookies? Yes, please.
The truth is that I need accountability and as I pondered the high costs of getting a personal trainer at my gym (which I never visit), my friend and Press city editor Maureen Dolan suggested I sign up for the Kroc RX program, an eight-week program designed to help people like me.
Heritage Health and the Salvation Army have partnered to change the way diabetes and obesity are treated by modern medicine. Heritage Health uses medical appointments to deliver important information to patients in a group setting. The health care provider offers a wide array of shared medical appointments, including chronic care management, emotional wellness, and aging gracefully.
The approach works. Dr. Joseph Abate, Heritage Health's medical director, said participants in the eight-week program lose an average of 5 ˝ pounds and drop their A1C scores, a test to measure blood sugar, by 12 percent. They also improve mental health, reducing test scores for symptoms of depression by 42 percent.
“The demand for our programs is increasing because of the success we're experiencing,” said Abate, who launched Kroc Rx in 2015. “These are lifestyle changes for our patients.”
Which is what I desperately need. As I sat through the orientation for the program last Friday, I looked around the room and saw dozens of people all wanting to change their lives.
I am a diabetic and I am finally doing something about it.
For more information on Kroc Rx, call Heritage Health at (208) 292-0292 or click on: http://www.myheritagehealth.org/krocrx/