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NEWS | March 4, 2010

I am not alone

By Melanie Moore 79th Medical Wing

Recently at work, I thought I was having a heart attack. My head was hurting and my left shoulder was aching. In addition, I had a horrible pain in the center of my chest. Since these are symptoms for women having a heart attack, my supervisor and co-workers came to my aid and took me straight to the emergency department. Not only was I given excellent care at Malcolm Grow Medical Center emergency room, but they probably saved my life. It turned out that instead of being diagnosed with heart failure, I was a diabetic. My blood glucose level was over 400. I was shocked. I felt lost. I thought I was all alone.

I am happy to tell you I am not alone. There are two classes held here at the hospital every month to help people cope with diabetes. MGMC offers a two-part Diabetes Self Management program on Tuesday mornings. The Andrews Initiative for Diabetes Care, or AIDC, offers great support and gives participants tools to help them live with diabetes. The AIDC team includes a diabetes educator, exercise physiologist, and diabetes nurse coordinator as well as expert guest speakers. Patients receive information on fitness and nutrition, sick day management and skin and foot care.

During the class, 1st Lt. Sarah Mueller, 779th Medical Support Squadron clinical dietitian, said, "Everyone really needs to eat one hour after waking and every three to five hours after that. Don't skip meals. Eat three meals a day."

My life is not restricted to bland food. I have learned you can have desserts, just in moderation. I found out that my skipping meals was causing me to gain weight, not lose weight as I originally thought. "Women should have about 45 grams of carbohydrate per meal, three times a day while men are allowed about 60 grams per meal, and 15 to 30 grams per snack twice a day between meals," she said.

The most important thing I learned was that instead of counting calories or sugar, I really should be counting carbs and serving sizes. I can promise you that they did not teach this in Mississippi where I am from. It is a completely new way of thinking for me. I can have three carb servings per meal. (One carb serving equals 15 grams). This class really has changed my life. I can eat out. I just have to eat a kid's meal instead of a big burger.

Moreover, they taught me helpful tips on how to have a satisfying life despite my diabetes. Exercise at your desk. It doesn't have to hurt. I can have fun again and find that kid that used to live outside. I am now motivated to get up and get out. In addition to all the wonderful information, I received a pedometer. I find myself constantly walking to increase my steps and trying to improve my numbers from the day before. It is working - I have already lost 14 pounds!

However, the most important thing I got out of these classes was that I found these people involved in the teaching of these classes really care about me. It is not easy and it is going to be hard at times. However, with a support group, you can live a satisfying life after you are diagnosed with diabetes.

So I am writing this story for all of you who may be like me - walking around with diabetes and not taking it seriously. Don't wait until you're in the emergency room. Talk to your provider and get a referral to the Diabetes Self- Management Class. It can really change your life for the better. This class is available to all TRICARE beneficiaries. For more information, please contact the AIDC at 240-857-4762.