Greg Pautsch shares his experience with the Y’s Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP).
I have had Type 2 diabetes for more than 10 years. I thought I was managing it “fairly” well until I went to the doctor in January 2016. I was happy to learn that I had not gained any weight but was shocked to learn that my A1C jumped to 9.1. I did not know what to do. Luckily, I had joined the Y earlier that month and saw a poster at the YMCA Healthy Living Center about a class in managing Type 2 diabetes.
I was hesitant about going to the first class because I was afraid of what would happen to me if this did not work — it felt like my final option. The class was taught in a very open and relaxing setting. It was very interesting learning from the instructor, the material and other class members’ experiences. Sharing and asking questions was always encouraged but never forced. It was a great atmosphere.
"I was hesitant about going to the first class because I was afraid of what would happen to me if this did not work — it felt like my final option."
The class lasted six weeks, and it was the most thorough and interesting Type 2 diabetes class I have ever taken. One of things that I still remember to this day is when the instructor passed around a container that showed what your blood looks like when you have an elevated A1C level. It was all milky and cloudy, and I realized that was what my blood looked like! Another big thing I learned is the importance of testing my blood sugar levels every day. I still test once or twice a day, every day. It reminds me that I have the disease (I can’t ignore that fact any more). It also helps me see the implications of my dietary and exercise choices from the previous day. Finally, the class was so extensive that it increased my knowledge in food choices, exercise, medications and goal setting, as well as how the body and blood sugar levels work and how to manage the disease.
My next doctor visit was in late April and I lost 19 pounds and my A1C was 6.3. I attribute the improved results to the things I learned in the class. Also, I no longer have to worry what my A1C level will be when I go to the doctor, since I test every day and thus know daily how well I’m managing my blood sugar levels. I highly recommend this class to anyone wanting to learn more about Type 2 diabetes and how to manage it.
"It was the most thorough and interesting Type 2 diabetes class I have ever taken."
Diabetes self-management education, offered at several YMCA of Greater Des Moines branches, is a proven intervention for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes. The American Association of Diabetes Educators supports the use of this program as a quality evidence-based curriculum that has been shown to empower individuals to take charge of their diabetes, avoid complications from the disease and improve self-management skills. Ask your Y if they have a Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP) in session and take charge of your health.