Fayetteville, Ga. (December 31, 2013) – At just 29 years old, Newnan resident and young mom Tawny Hiestand never imagined the cause of her stomach pain and nausea could be type I diabetes, an autoimmune disease that inhibits the body from producing insulin and accounts for 10 percent of the 26 million Americans affected by diabetes.
“When I first received the diagnosis, I felt like my body was betraying me,” said Hiestand, who is working with diabetes educators at Piedmont Fayette Hospital to regain control of her health. “I felt that I was too young to have diabetes. It was a complete surprise but after learning more about the disease, I’ve realized that diabetes won’t slow you down as long as you don’t let it.”
Critical to the success of patients being able to live life to the fullest and not develop complications of uncontrolled diabetes is arming them with the appropriate education and resources, says Ellen Poindexter, diabetes educator at Piedmont Fayette.
“Knowledge truly is power when dealing with type 1 or type 2 diabetes,” said Poindexter. “Once patients know more about diabetes, they cope with it much better. Our classes teach patients how to live with diabetes while learning to balance proper nutrition, activity and diabetes medication.”
Since attending diabetes education classes, Hiestand has learned to manage her diet carefully and how to make smart food choices when eating at a restaurant. For people recently diagnosed, Hiestand advises first learning how to get the condition under control and utilizing support groups, education classes and online communities whenever possible.
“Diabetics can live normally and do anything,” said Hiestand. “You have to incorporate new things like checking your glucose levels and planning meals, but soon those things become as routine as brushing your teeth.”
Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many symptoms seem harmless. Type 1 diabetes symptoms include frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue and irritability. In addition to these signs, type 2 diabetes symptoms can include frequent infections, blurred vision, cuts/bruises that are slow to heal, tingling or numbness in the hands/feet or recurring skin, gum or bladder infections.
Piedmont Fayette offers a diabetes self-management education program through the American Diabetes Association. Physician referral is required. Those interested in learning more should call 770-719-7290. For more information about diabetes, visit piedmontfayette.org.