Published on August 8, 2019
You may have recently been diagnosed with diabetes or have had the condition for years. You may be a caregiver for a person with diabetes or know of someone who has the chronic disease.
You might also just be interested in knowing more about this disease that has been diagnosed in about 30 million people in the United States.
Whatever the case, talking to others about managing diabetes can be extremely helpful. For one local woman, joining the Phelps Health Diabetes Support Group has been beneficial to her in so many ways.
Nina Strange first learned she had type 2 diabetes around 2012. She has a family history of diabetes, and her mother died of complications due to the disease. “I have watched what diabetes does to a person,” Strange said.
Diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas either does not produce or properly use insulin.
Strange said while she believes her diabetes is well managed, “with knowing what it does to a person, I don’t want it to get bad, and I want to learn more.”
Strange, who also is a hospice volunteer, learned about the monthly diabetes support group from a flier at Phelps Health. She attended her first meeting about two and a half years ago and remembers the speaker that day, Chadwell Vail, DO, an internal medicine physician with the Phelps Health Medical Group. Now, Dr. Vail is her primary care physician.
Each month, the support group meets and discusses a different topic, from healthy eating tips to ways to control your blood sugar and more. Attendees learn about what parts of their bodies are affected by diabetes, how to be aware of those issues and how to counteract them. Usually, a speaker attends each meeting, but in some cases, there is time to network with others.
“We do get to know each other…We all have different situations with diabetes,” Strange said. “I think we stay healthier because we attend this support group.”
Phelps Health diabetes educators Pati Cox, CDE, MEd, BSN, RN, and Jessica Fisher, RN, BSN, lead the support group meetings, which last about two hours. Cox said members are welcoming and help everyone feel right at home. Group members support one another and share what works and does not work for them.
“We really try to expose more people in the community to what diabetes is about,” Cox said. “People can live very normal lives and still manage their diabetes. It doesn’t make them different from anyone else. They are not a diabetic. They are people first, with diabetes.”
Strange called the support group meetings an educational asset and said she has learned a tremendous amount from attending. “I leave there feeling good, because it was a good two hours we spent,” Strange said.
Strange said Cox and Fisher usually have answers to the group’s questions, and if not, they are willing to find the answers.
“I am so pleased that Phelps Health does this for the community,” Strange said.
The Phelps Health Diabetes Support Group is open to anybody, not just people living with diabetes. The group meets the first Saturday of each month except for January, July and September, from 10:00 AM to noon in the Private Dining Rooms near the Cafeteria at Phelps Health Hospital, 1000 West 10th Street, Rolla, MO.
For more information about the Phelps Health Diabetes Support Group, call (573) 458-7314 or click here.