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Lessons Learned

Published in the Fall 2012 Issue of Join Us Magazine.

Articles210diabetes.jpgRetired school teacher now is living healthy with diabetes

The “before” and “after” in Sue Hounshell, a former school teacher living with diabetes, is remarkable.

Before last spring, Sue couldn’t vacuum her house without stopping to rest. “I learned I had diabetes almost three years ago but I was in denial and wasn’t doing anything to help myself,” she says.

“I struggled and struggled and kept thinking, ‘Why me?’” Sue napped every afternoon and admits her eating was out of control. “I love to cook and my favorite thing to make was pies,” she recalls.

Now, Sue has energy. In recent months she has lost almost 20 pounds, is counting carbohydrates and monitoring her glucose levels carefully. Her culinary talents now are used to create healthy meals for her and husband Howard using herbs from her new garden. Sue swims at the Y and enjoys water aerobics.

Self-managing Diabetes

The difference? “Going to the Diabetes Wellness Center of Atrium Medical Center has changed my life,” she says assuredly. “They have treated me wonderfully and have helped me learn how to self-manage my diabetes.”

Diabetes is the most common disorder of the body’s endocrine system. It occurs when blood sugar levels consistently stay above normal. According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million children and adults in the United States — 8.3 percent of the population — have diabetes, diagnosed or undiagnosed.

Sue had turned to books about diabetes for answers. “I tried, I really did, but I got lost,” she says. “I even tried national weight loss plans with no luck. I needed the personal interaction and help I got at the Diabetes Wellness Center.”


Carol Nartker, Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator

“Sue had been in denial but she’s definitely in the driver’s seat now,” reports Carol Nartker, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the center. “She has made remarkable progress. Many patients only lose a pound or two a week. Sue has exceeded that in a very healthy way.”


Learning and Living Well

Carol says that everything at the Diabetes Wellness Center, located at 4218 Grand Avenue near Breiel Boulevard in Middletown, is done with one goal: improving the quality of life for individuals with diabetes. Certified diabetes educators work with patients, their families and their physicians to help assess patient needs, develop a personalized care plan and teach patients how to manage their condition.

Sue learned about the disease process and the importance of exercise and healthy eating habits. “Counting carbohydrates has been instrumental in my weight loss and is an easy way for me to manage what I eat,” she reports. “Now instead of baking pies, I get creative with salads and other healthy meals. I’m surprised but, with what I’ve learned, cooking is still fun!”

In one of her sessions at the center, Sue was asked by nurse Tammy Dellaposta what her barrier to exercise was. Tammy helped her find an activity she likes: swimming. “I really enjoy my time in the water,” Sue says. “And as I continue to lose weight, exercise is easier and I have so much more energy.”

Like Sue, many patients first come to the Diabetes Wellness Center because of a referral from a doctor. “But we also have people who walk-in and want to learn more,” Carol states.

Article250diabetes.jpg“I can’t recommend the center enough,” Sue says with passion. “From the moment I went in and the receptionist treated me like a real person, I knew this was a place that could help me. Going to the Diabetes Wellness Center has made a dramatic difference in my life. There’s no stopping me now.”

Diabetes Symptoms

Type 1 Diabetes

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue and irritability

Type 2 Diabetes*

  • Any of the type 1 symptoms
  • Frequent infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts/bruises slow to heal
  • Tingling/numbness in the hands or feet
  • Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections

*Often people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms

Full Range of Services

The Diabetes Wellness Center, established in 1998, provides:

  • Education programs including individual and group counseling sessions
  • Free finger-stick blood glucose tests, weight checks and blood pressure screenings
  • On-site diabetes resource library
  • Free glucose meter downloads with printouts
  • A computer workstation to research information online
  • A demonstration kitchen