Diabetes – A Life-Changing Diagnosis

November 11, 2014

“My first thought was that I had some dreaded disease,” Glen Wagner, 53 says of the day his doctor told him it was time to start insulin. “That really opened my eyes.” Glen, a 20-year veteran in the medical field, working as a paramedic and in facilities management, lived a life on the go. Meals were often from a drive-thru. There was little to no formal exercise, even though he would describe his lifestyle as physically active with his work. After 30 years, Glen quit smokeless tobacco cold turkey a few years prior to that doctor’s appointment. Yet, it all caught up to him by his late 40s. “You would think I’d be knowledgeable of the signs and symptoms of diabetes.”

A Type 2 diabetes diagnosis was a clear game-changer for Glen. Realizing his path was beginning to be set before him, he did not want to go down the same road two close members of his family had – losing their lives to complications from diabetes. “A friend told me about Marty Farris and the classes at BSA,” he says. Glen signed up for the five-week diabetes education classes offered at the hospital. “It is a fantastic education program – very thorough. They cover everything from A to Z.”

Sessions held Tuesday evenings cover everything from healthy eating, exercise, eye care, foot care, managing stress, understanding medication, and monitoring blood sugar. Additionally, health care providers are featured speakers from a variety of specialties including cardiology, podiatry, ophthalmology, pharmacy, physical therapy, and nutrition.

“At BSA, we are dedicated to teach diabetes to our patients and families with the most current information,” shares program director Marty Farris, RN, CDE.  “Diabetes changes and so does the patient. Continued diabetes education is a must. Staying informed will improve the chances of delaying or getting complications.”

For Glen, the classes were an introduction to a new lifestyle and the providers who were available to help address his symptoms. “I had the beginning stages of neuropathy in my feet,” he adds. “It was very painful. Then it progressed to the point I literally had no feeling in my feet. I was introduced to a podiatrist and told him I would come see him. I walked in his clinic and said, ‘I need help.’” Glen says he also benefited from working directly with an endocrinologist he met at one of the classes, as well as an ophthalmologist. “It all helped improve my quality of life.”

Armed with a comprehensive approach to controlling and managing his diabetes, Glen says his new lifestyle is all about daily decisions. From studying the menu when eating out, to planning ahead and staying compliant with his doctors’ orders, Glen is now enjoying the life he thought was taking away his old one. “I am really blessed that I was introduced to Marty and started the classes as BSA,” he says. “My quality of life is 180 degrees from what it was a year ago.”

Diabetes education speakers include Dr. Rivera, cardiologist  - Amarillo Heart Group, Dr. Ken Brantley, endocrinologist - Amarillo Medical Specialist, Dr. Bryan Bullard, podiatrist  -  Amarillo Foot and Ankle Institute, Dr. Alan McCarty, ophthalmologist - Southwest Retina Specialist, Myla Ehly, physical therapist – BSA, Angela Overbay, pharmacist – BSA, Sherol Finley, trauma nurse -  BSA, Melissa Bundy, sleep study – BSA, Melissa Burns, stress management – Amarillo College, and Amanda Allen, dietitian – BSA.

The next five-week diabetes education session begins February 3, 2015. For more information, please contact Marty Farris, RN, CDE at 806-212-5573 or marty.farris@bsahs.org.