Last year, Dianna Ross, of the Floyd County Health Department, was just about to begin leading Floyd County’s Diabetes Prevention Program (or DPP, for short), when she got some surprising results from her annual A1C test— she herself was in the prediabetes range! Dianna was shocked; as she says, “I like my vegetables, you know what I mean? I thought I was pretty active. I thought I was good!”
The DPP is a lifestyle change program (click here for more information about DPP, & to find a group near you!) where local participants meet regularly over the course of a year to learn and support each other in making changes to prevent type 2. So, while Dianna still led Floyd County’s DPP group, she also took part in the program herself, alongside her participants. And having gone through it, Dianna says she is living proof that the DPP works— within 4-5 months, Dianna lowered her A1C from 6.0 to 5.3!
In this audio story (push play above to listen or click below to read the transcript), Dianna shares her story of diagnosis & change— and her thoughts about how getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is also an essential part of our keeping healthy.P.S.! The Floyd Co. Health Dept. is looking for participants to fill a new DPP cohort *right now*, to begin in the summer of 2021! Contact the Health Dept. via Facebook or at (606) 886-2788 for more information, or to sign up!
Music in this story (“Beware the Lone Star Tick” and “Traveling Riverside Blues”) was performed by Don Bikoff, and can be found at the Free Music Archive.
Click here for the full transcript of this story:
My name is Dianna Ross. I am from Toler Creek, which is in Floyd County, it’s at Harold, Ky. I work part-time at the Floyd County Health Department as a health educator.
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One of my duties is actually to teach the DPP class, the diabetes prevention class.
So, I got trained last year, probably in February. But the crazy part was— in April, I had labs. And in my labs, my A1C was 6.0. Which put me in the prediabetes range. And I’m like, ‘What the crap?!’ I would never have dreamed it. I mean never have dreamed it. So I’m like, ‘Okay, I guess it’s good I’m starting a diabetes prevention class!’ So, I did it along with my participants!
The Diabetes Prevention Program is— basically, it sums it up in that the goal is diabetes prevention. And the way it’s done is that you focus on actually losing weight and physical activity, and eating healthy. Now, the whole program is for one year: in the beginning we meet weekly, and then it goes to biweekly, and then to monthly. Each individual sets their own goal, to lose 5-7% of their body weight. So, it’s not a tremendous amount of weight. Because if you think about it, if you weigh 200 pounds, then it’s 10 pounds. So, that’s not an impossible amount.
And then, physical activity: the goal is to get 150 minutes of actual physical activity a week. So, you can do 5 days, 30 minutes [per day]; it can even be 10 minute spurts. And, it doesn’t have to be exercise— it can be going to the mailbox. It can be vacuuming the floor; mowing the grass… I mean, whatever works for them. It’s just you’ve got to focus on getting up and moving.
So, there’s lots of classes. And each lesson is a learning thing, and in general, most of the time it’s nothing you didn’t already know. It’s just making you think about things, and helping you to make better choices.
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So, I started it in June, and I did the same thing with the physical activity, and even my eating— and actually, I think that’s what makes the biggest difference, is that once you write down what you eat, and look at it, it’s like, ‘Wow. Ain’t no wonder.’
I love to eat. And I do like sweets, but it’s not like sweets are my weakness. Mine was more— I love potatoes. I love corn. I love carbs. So, I realized how actually bad I ate.
I have made some changes. It’s like, okay. I need non-starchy vegetables, and some starchy vegetables and carbs, and some protein, and some fruit, and some dairy… I don’t need to give into what I want and not be healthy.
And I’m a grazer. It’s like, I walk by, I pick up something, and I eat. I walk by, and pick up something and eat. So, it’s like I eat all day long. And I think that’s part of my issue: I didn’t allow the sugar to come back down. I kept adding more! I’m doing better… I’m doing better.
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So, I’m kind of a success story, even though I guess I’m technically not the participants. But my A1C was 6.0, and my A1C dropped to 5.3. So, to me that’s just pretty amazing. That was my whole goal, because I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, I cannot be a diabetic. No. No! This is not going to happen. This is not going to happen!’ And, sure enough— it was happening!’
And I’m saying me, but I’ve had some other participants whose A1C has come down, and I really do believe it’s participating in the program. And even though we were in a pandemic, it helped them to focus on something other than the pandemic, something that they could control.
Like, I’ve got one elderly man and he’ll call and he’ll say, ‘Now, when’s our next meeting?’ And I’ll say okay, it’s whenever. And he even called me to say his a1c had dropped to 5.9. So I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s awesome!’ Hopefully we can all continue. That’s what one of them said: ‘I don’t want it to end in May.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m going to keep in touch with you, so it’ll be okay.’
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My mom had said, ‘Oh no, you’re not going to be diabetic!’ She said, ‘Psh, we don’t have any problem, and your Daddy didn’t!’ And I said, ‘Mom, Daddy died at 52. We don’t know if he would’ve been a diabetic.’
Now, my grandfather was a type 2 diabetes person on my father’s side. So we knew about that. But I guess because Daddy died so early— and he has two siblings, they do not have diabetes. So, it was like, honestly, did I think there was a problem? I didn’t. But I think that’s the problem— you don’t know.
We have to realize how prevalent it is. I think we have these preconceived ideas about, ‘Oh, they’ve got diabetic, but, you know, I’m sure they eat bad, they eat a dozen doughnuts…’ and whatever. I would not have considered me one of the people that I thought ate poorly! Because I like my vegetables, you know what I mean? I thought I was pretty active. I thought I was good!
And actually, it seems like I had even been having my yearly A1Cs, you know, because usually, it’s once a year. So, it really, just— [snaps] all of a sudden. I mean, like, from one year to the next. And I’m like, ‘[slaps hands on table]… okay.’
So, we just have to realize that this is the only body we’ve got. And, unfortunately, you don’t get do-overs. You know, because if you’ve gone so far that your kidneys are affected, or your heart’s affected, or your sight— I mean, diabetics lose their sight! You know, I worked at a hospital for 38 years. So you saw people who were getting feet removed or toes removed, and then it would be up to the knee, a below the knee amputation. So, I was used to that, but somehow, I always thought that was other people. I didn’t think it was me! So, I hope that I have started on a road that I can stay on.
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Now I’ve got a science background, so to me, I think vaccines work. Obviously, we have a coronavirus that we’re dealing with. And if you look back at history, there are diseases that have been almost totally eradicated: if you look at polio, even measles— because we got vaccines for things, and we quit worrying about all those things! So, for me, it was not a question of whether I’m gonna take it, it’s when can I take it?
Years ago, when my husband was alive, he got diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma. Before that time, I never took the flu vaccine. I hardly ever got the flu, so I just did not feel the need for a flu vaccine. And then after he got diagnosed, I’m like, ‘Okay, I have to have the flu vaccine, because I can’t bring it home to him.’ So, I started taking it every year. And he passed away in ’07. So I don’t have that need now, but what I’ve come to realize is he’s not the only one I’m protecting. My mother’s still alive, my mom and my stepdad. So you want to protect them. And you never know when there’s somebody that’s immune-compromised that you could be bringing something in on.
So, I guess, to me, you just look at the facts, and make your decision based on what you can live with. And I guess I couldn’t live with not taking it. Because I would feel like, what if I gave it to somebody and they died? And you know God’s in control anyway. That’s my thought. God is in control— but I guess, to me, it’s that same concept of taking care of other people. And, what— it’s a shot, that’s protecting you as well as other people! So, to me it makes sense.
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You know how we say, ‘know your numbers’? The doctors will say, ‘Know your numbers. Know what your blood pressure is. Know what your cholesterol is.’ But your A1C is just as important. Actually, maybe even more important.
We can prevent this. We can prevent type 2! And actually, what we do to prevent type 2 is just: live more healthy. Get our physical activity— and it doesn’t have to be going to a gym. It is just getting up and moving. That’s all. And eating healthy.
And it’s kind of like the vaccine. If we can prevent the coronavirus, then let’s do it! Let’s take a vaccine. And if we can prevent diabetes— think about it, preventing type 2 diabetes, simply by being healthy, by eating the right things, and by getting enough activity… that’s pretty awesome.