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Medwatch: Diabetes educator shares her journey with the disease

Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 8:04 AM CST
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - The season where we love to overeat is here, but it’s also Diabetes Awareness Month, a time to remember what you should eat and how much if you have diabetes. Michelle White, one of the diabetes educators for Lawton Community Health Center, said diabetes is a deceptive disease, and many people don’t even know they have it.

She realized she had it two years ago while testing a wearable device.

“At first, it was kinda devastating,” White said. “How did I get here? What did this to me? Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. Who knows? Stressors? Illnesses? Genetic lifestyle?”

White’s said she was testing the device while rushing to catch a flight.

“And I sat down, and the little machine started beeping,” she said. “My blood sugar was over 200, and I was just shocked. I went, ‘I have diabetes. How did that happen? What? Wait?’”

White said medication made her diabetes worse, so she decided to try controlling it through diet and exercise.

“It was small steps,” White said. “Like I said, switching from Dr. Pepper to the Coke Zero and then back to Diet Dr. Peppers. Changing my plate a little bit around.”

Having diabetes has made her kids more aware of them being at a higher risk of having it one day. So, it’s changed how her entire family eats and thinks about food.

“My kids are the ones you see peeling breading off the chicken nuggets because you don’t need all that breading,” she said. “They want the taste of the chicken nugget, but do they really need all of that? So they peel that off.”

White said many people who come into her office are anxious about what they think she may tell them, but it’s small changes, like she and her kids are doing, that can help.

“Their anxiety level is up to here because you’re going to tell me what I can and can’t eat. You’re going to tell me I can’t do this anymore,” she said. “Absolutely not. We are not the big, bad wolf. We are not going to bite you. We’re not going to get mad at you. We don’t get frustrated with you. We’re really here just to help you make those small steps and do life your way, but healthier.”

White said taking your diabetes diagnosis seriously and taking steps to get it under control is important as it can kill you if left untreated.

“Diabetes left untreated would be like putting a penny in a soda, how it corrodes it, but diabetes does that too on our insides,” she said. “It’s corroding our organs, and then you start feeling bad, and you’re past the point of being able to reverse it or control it with diet and exercise.”

White said if you’d like to meet with one of the diabetes specialists at the Lawton Community Health Center, it’s best to go through your primary care provider. She says they can refer you to get education on diabetes management.

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