More than 37 million Americans have diabetes. Even more shockingly, about 1 in 5 people with diabetes have no idea they have it. Diabetes can surprise you with no obvious symptoms. You may not even realize you have diabetes until it is out of control and hard to manage on your own.
Unfortunately, that became a reality for 65-year-old Turner “Sonny” Stutts.
In early January 2022, Stutts was preparing for his retirement at the end of the month. He was beginning the Medicare enrollment process when his wife suggested he schedule a “checkup” appointment with his doctor.
Throughout his life, Stutts felt like he never really needed to go to the doctor. He never seemed to get very sick, so he thought there was no reason to go. However, since he hadn’t been to the doctor in some time, Stutts made an appointment in mid-January with his primary care provider to perform routine blood work.
A few days after her appointment, her doctor called back with the results of her blood test.
“My doctor called me back and told me I had to get to the office as soon as possible. I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “When I got to the office, she (the doctor) told me I had diabetes, and that was totally inappropriate. I didn’t really understand at first. »
Stutts’ doctor recommended he visit the Iredell Wellness & Diabetes Center so he could learn more about his new diagnosis and how to properly manage his diabetes.
Stutts had no apparent symptoms of diabetes but admitted he had a big sweet tooth.
“I ate a lot of food that wasn’t good for me, and I didn’t know what I was doing to myself at the time,” he said.
Stutts made her first appointment at the diabetes center in February and went there for an hour once a week for six weeks.
During his first session, he met Amy Brant, a wellness nurse and manager of the center’s diabetes program. During this hour-long session, he learned about diabetes, including potential complications of uncontrolled blood sugar, healthy eating habits, health maintenance goals, diabetes medications, how the body uses insulin, pathophysiology and available diabetes education resources.
“In my head, I was invincible. So at first it took me a little while to accept that I was diabetic,” he said.
During the second session, Stutts met with a registered dietitian who provided him with nutritional information and a personalized meal plan.
“When I went to my first two classes, they showed me the benefits of eating certain foods, and I could see that what I was eating was exactly what I shouldn’t have been eating,” Stutts said. .
After the first two sessions, patients at the Iredell Wellness & Diabetes Center have the option of attending group classes to delve deeper into each topic. Stutts decided to go to all four group classes.
When he arrived at the diabetes center for each of his visits, he was greeted by Randi, administrative assistant, and thanked her for her good humor and help. Throughout his time at the center, Stutts was impressed with the way the staff cared for him and explained things to him.
“The way they explained everything to me — it wasn’t like they were telling me to do anything. They said, ‘This is what you can do to help yourself, and we can help you do it.’ The wellness nurse, Amy, and the dietitian had a real conversation with me, and it really helped me understand and cope better. They weren’t just there for their job. They really cared,” Stutts said.
“I was a non-believer, but they changed my mind just by being themselves,” he added.
Knowing what he is doing now, Stutts has turned over a new leaf and is much more aware of what he eats. He only eats sweets in moderation and eats small portions when he does. Stutts also tries to eat more nutritious foods and drinks plenty of water throughout the day.
Stutts’ most recent blood test results are proof of his hard work and everything he’s learned.
Prior to the program, on his first blood test in mid-January, his A1C (a test that reflects average blood sugar levels) was 8.8% and his fasting blood sugar was 214 mg/dL.
For reference, a normal A1C is less than 5.7% and a normal fasting glucose level is less than 100 mg/dL.
At her doctor’s appointment in May, her blood test showed huge improvement. Stutts’ A1C dropped to 5.5% and his blood sugar to 91 mg/dL.
“My doctor told me I basically cured myself and I said, ‘No, I got help. Believe me, if it hadn’t been for everyone in the middle, I wouldn’t have improved and learned so much,” Stutts said.
After all he’s accomplished, Stutts says he has a new drive to help others and explain what he’s learned.
“One of my family members has just been diagnosed with diabetes, and I recommend that he visit the diabetes center. I told him it would give him a better idea of what he could eat and what he should limit,” Stutts said.
Going forward, Stutts plans to continue to follow the advice of staff at the Iredell Wellness & Diabetes Center.
“It was a life-changing experience. I’m just going to try to keep doing what I learned at the center and try to do the best I can with it. And I know they’re there if I need it,” Stutts said.
If you would like to book an appointment at the Iredell Wellness & Diabetes Center, please speak to your primary care provider about a referral. You can also call the Diabetes Center directly at 704-878-4556 and ask them to contact your supplier.