Just a few months ago, Linda Boofer of Dayton was struggling to take control of her Type 2 diabetes. She battled daily with fatigue and irritability and had to give herself six shots a day to control her unhealthy blood sugar levels. Boofer, 60, had been living with the disease for over 18 year, but when her sister died as a result of diabetes, she decided it was time to change her life.
“I woke up one morning and turned it over to the Lord,” she said. “I realized that if I didn’t take care of this, I wasn’t going to be around for my grandchildren.”
So in March, Boofer signed up for a class with Dee Ann Harwell, a registered dietician who specializes in diabetes management. Over the course of the next few months, Boofer learned how to maintain a healthier body weight by watching her portion sizes, counting calories, eating more balanced meals, and exercising regularly. Harwell helped Boofer customize an eating plan to fit her lifestyle and schedule, and assisted Boofer in setting realistic nutritional goals.
The results were astounding. Boofer lost 25 pounds. Her A1c levels (average blood glucose control over a period of 2 to 3 months) went from 11 to 5.5. She has gone down to four shots a day and hopes to be off of insulin completely by November.
“The Lord saved my life; there’s not doubt about that,” said Boofer. “And he used Dee to do it.”
Dee Ann Harwell has brought her 10 years of experience to Rhea Medical Center, as she recently began teaching a new diabetes self-management class.
“It makes a big difference to have a nutritionist working with you one-on-one,” Harwell said. “I know that there are a lot of people out there who work third shift, are trying to balance a job and raising kids, and don’t have a lot of time to worry about diet and exercise. I can help them come up with a realistic plan that fits their lifestyle.”
Harwell said the program is comprehensive, and covers everything from diet to exercise to taking medication to testing blood sugar. The class begins as a sixth-month trial, after which Harwell hopes to obtain accreditation through the American Diabetes Association. During the trial period, the cost is $60 for six months of classes.
The American Diabetes Association estimates that 20.8 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in Tennessee. According to Boofer, anyone struggling with the disease should consider taking control by attending the class because “if I can do it, anyone can do it.”
“I feel so much happier now,” she said. “I’ve got four grandkids that range in age from six to 15 and now I’m able to enjoy playing with them again. The other day one of them said to me, ‘Nanny, you’re doing a whole lot better now, aren’t you?’ And I said, ‘I sure am, sweetie.’ In that moment, I really felt like I had succeeded at something.”
To sign up for the diabetes self-management class, call the scheduling office at Rhea Medical Center at 775-8636.