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Hospital highlights many ways to monitor diabetes in 2019

Nathan Niska, 47, used to prick his finger to sample his blood five to six times a day.

Now he maybe pricks one finger a week to double-check his blood sugar levels.

Gone is the pain, and so are the calluses he grew trying to make sure the lancet went deep enough to draw blood. Niska has had Type 2 diabetes for 20 years. When he was diagnosed, a doctor told him all the horror stories: he could lose his vision, or maybe even a limb.

“All the bad things that can happen,” Niska described.

Fast-forward to 2019, and Niska’s diabetes maintenance has been significantly aided by technology. He has a continuous glucose monitor, which checks his glucose levels every five minutes. That monitor communicates with his insulin pump, which can supply insulin as needed. All of this data is available on a smartphone app.

“It really has helped me navigate my diabetes, and control my diabetes better,” Niska said.

Raising awareness around ways to navigate a diabetes diagnosis was the purpose of Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center’s World Diabetes Day event Thursday. Doctors, dietitians, insurance representatives, patients and others congregated in the hospital’s first floor lobby to host or peruse educational booths on nutrition, fitness and diabetes-related technology. The event even had a Zumba session.

Niska said one Legacy doctor offered to help him get clarification for an insurance problem he’s been having. The Vancouver resident called the event “very helpful.”

“It’s expanded my knowledge of diabetes,” Niska said.

Juli Adelman, a dietitian and diabetes educator with Legacy, said the event was “a celebration of people who have diabetes and a community event to raise awareness for different technologies that are out there.”

Adelman, who has been a diabetes educator for 14 years, acknowledged there’s still plenty of work to be done around diabetes. More than 30 million Americans, nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population, are diabetic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 84 million adults 18 and older have prediabetes, which accounts for nearly 34 percent of the adult U.S. population.

Adelman said she’s seen great strides made in diabetes prevention and maintenance of a diagnosis. Insurance now consistently covers prevention classes, and technology has made living with diabetes easier.

“It really is a manageable disease,” Adelman said. “The key is trying to figure out how to make the medication, nutrition and exercise work for you.”


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