Diabetes center helps East Texans live with and prevent the disease

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The Horace C. Polk Jr. Regional Diabetes Center said there are thousands of people living with diabetes in Angelina County, and some may not even know they have a disease that they will have to live with the rest of their life.

"When I was a younger girl, I don't think you think about things like that," said Theresa Alexander.

Things like being a Type Two Diabetic.   Something Theresa has had to learn to live with.

"It's the fear of the unknown until you can get to someone that can help you," said Theresa.

That someone, for Theresa, is Deborah Brantley.

The Diabetes Center said Theresa is one of about 2.2 million Texans living with diabetes.  However, only 1.8 million of those actually know that they have it.  Theresa did not even know that she had it until about six months ago.

Theresa said she did have some fears at first, "Fear that okay, this is something that your body has had for awhile that you did not know and this is something you have to go ahead and learn to control."

Theresa first noticed a problem when she felt weak and clammy, but the Center said there are other things you should look out for.

"Are you above the age of 40? Are you overweight? Do you exercise less than five times a week? Do you belong to a particular ethnic group that is at higher risk? And if you've delivered a child that weighed more than nine pounds or had gestational diabetes," said RN Nurse Educator Deborah Brantley.

The Center said you are better off if you catch the signs of diabetes earlier and learn to live with it.

"If they don't have adequate knowledge on how to manage their diabetes, then they're setting themselves up for long term complications of diabetes, knowledge is power," said Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator Ethel Ballenger.

Theresa has that power.

The Center said there are simple things you can do to help live with and prevent diabetes.   For example, you can take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park a little further out to get in a few extra steps.   You should also get out of your chair to change the channel instead of reaching for the remote.

If you find out you do have diabetes the Center teaches classes on how to live with it.   To take those classes, your doctor can fill out a referral form.