Conference encourages people to take control of their diabetes
(June 30, 2011)
John Fluegel said he'd probably be dead if not for the health care he has received from East Carolina University's diabetes experts.
The 75-year-old lives in rural Wilson County and has had Type 2 diabetes for about 20 years.
The annual Winning with Diabetes Conference is a can't-miss event for him and his wife, Betty, who also has diabetes. Now in its 10th year, the conference will be held Saturday, July 23, in the St. James United Methodist Church Family Life Center on East Sixth Street in Greenville.
"It gives me more knowledge," Fluegel said. "They are all professionals. I've had top doctors."
The event is a daylong self-care management program for people with diabetes and their friends and families. Participants get expert advice from doctors, nurses and nutritionists as well as encouragement and tips from people who have battled diabetes for many years.
Vascular, kidney, stroke, blood pressure and foot screenings and cooking demonstrations will be held. Vendors will display diabetic products.
Cost is $25 and includes lunch. Call 252-744-6504 to pre-register or for more information. Space is limited.
The program is made possible by a grant from the Pitt Memorial Hospital Foundation facilitated by the ECU College of Nursing. Additional sponsors are the Brody School of Medicine and University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina.
Dr. Orville Day, associate professor of physics at ECU, has attended the conference each year. He is vigilant about managing his disease, he said.
"I do not want to have long-term complications from diabetes. I believe we now know enough that it's not necessary," he said. "I'm intensely interested in keeping my health good."
Day has had Type 2 diabetes for 14 years and lost his grandmother to the disease many years ago. Back then, less was known about how to prevent or control diabetes. Today, Day keeps his glucose in check, exercises five or six times a week, eats smaller portions, and counts his calories and carbohydrates each day.
"They are actually good hints for general overall good health," he said. "It's not so drastic that you can't follow simple rules."
The conference is something he looks forward to each year. He's also amazed more people don't take advantage of it.
"I always learn lots of new things every conference I go to," he said. He enjoys hearing motivational speakers on pertinent issues, meeting others in similar situations, and having physicians, nurses and nutritionists all in one location. He takes advantage of special screenings, cooking demonstrations and exercise tips.
Day also attends meetings of the Pitt County Diabetes Support Group, held the first Monday night of each month and led by ECU diabetes educators.
"I want to live many years yet," said Day, who is 69. "I never want to die of complications from diabetes. I want to die of something else other than diabetes."
Fluegel has had four or five diabetic comas and one seizure, and is determined not to have another. He takes insulin, and has begun counting his carbohydrates. "I just started doing that, and it's helped an awful lot," he said.