Diagnosed diabetic, he turned his life around

Patient Stories, Topics
Allison Taormina, RD, a clinical dietitian with McLaren Macomb, follows up with William and Anita

When William wife Anita called, he knew what it was all about.

Anita and William before the diagnosis

Dr. Tammy West, William's family physician, phoned with the results of his recent blood work. And the diagnosis didn't come as a shock to him.
He has type 2 diabetes.

"It runs in the family. My father was type 2 so when Anita called I wasn't very surprised," William said. "But I still had to wrap my mind around it for about a month. It was a wake-up call."

Like many, William had been living somewhat of a sedentary lifestyle and letting his diet slip, climbing to a weight of 315 lbs., and an A1C blood sugar level of 7.4 percent. (An A1C level below 5.7 is considered normal. Above 6.5 is diagnosed type 2 diabetes)

But in the months since his diagnosis, William has been successful in turning his life around with his own dedication and guidance from the team in Nutritional Counseling & Diabetes Education at McLaren Macomb.

"And my wife," he said. "She really kept me honest."

Aimed at teaching the newly diabetic how best to live with their new diagnosis, nurses and dietitians from the office strive to help patients cope and succeed by regularly hosting classes.

"When first told of their diagnosis, it's a major change and patients can react in so many different ways," said Allison Taormina, RD, a clinical dietitian with McLaren Macomb who leads one of the diabetes education classes. "We're motivated to help them through that initial diagnosis and set them up on how best to live with this condition."

But William took quickly to motivating himself to battle his condition. He began working out again and, always having enjoyed biking, dusted off his bike and began riding again.

He started closely watching what he ate. He passed over sweet snacks and salty treats for nutrition and energy bars. He would forego eating out and instead stay in to cook a nutritious meal with Anita.

Even before starting class, William lost more than 30 pounds and lowered his A1C level to an acceptable 5.2 percent.

"I was able to learn so much in that class," he said. "I always remind myself, "˜do what Allison says.' "

She encourages all of her students to know exactly what they are putting in their bodies and how much of it. Educating them on how best to read labels, knowing what's healthy and what should be avoided in those labels and how to correctly measure a portion size.

Inspired by his achievements, William set to build upon his initial success. He began exercising more and more, signing up for longer bike races and taking a more proactive role in his meal choices.

"William has responded very well to his diagnosis and has bettered himself for it," Taormina said. "It's very encouraging for us to see how he has set himself up for success."

His goal, after shedding nearly a quarter of his body weight, is to get down to 190 before the end of 2017 and cut his daily medications and blood tests to one a day while still maintaining a normal A1C level.

"All of this was a wake-up call," he said. "I have no plans on slowing down."

For more information, or to schedule an appointment with the professionals with Nutritional Counseling & Diabetes Education, call (586) 493-8500.