Madison County Commissioner David Hunter had a revelation at the London Rotary Club meeting Sept. 28.

The guests at that meeting were Elizabeth Douglass, Clinical Dietitian at Madison Health and Darren Renz, director of the Madison Health Food and Nutrition Program. The two gave a presentation on the four-session Madison Health Diabetes Program that began in 2014.

“It all started at that meeting,” said Hunter on Wednesday. “I’ve had problems getting my sugar under control. I can’t get it under 200 right now. I’m having a lot of problems with that.”

Hunter said that during the presentation, Douglass and Renz talked about the number of people in Madison County who do not feel they can afford to do what is needed to fight diabetes. “They don’t think they can do it correctly so they feel they have to live with it,” Hunter said.

When he heard this, he believed that this belief was wrong. “There are a lot of things people can do that don’t cost a lot of money to get your sugar under control.”

Hunter, 54, who has Type 2 diabetes, called Douglass at Madison Health and said this is an opportune time “to get this out to the public so people can see that it is first, affordable for people to do, and second, to not be ashamed to admit to being diabetic.”

Hunter said he asked her, “Hey, how would you like to have a guinea pig to reach the people of Madison County who have diabetes and don’t feel they can afford to take care of it? I figured that if I was out there as the guinea pig, I am obligated to take care of myself and they can see the benefits for them, as well.”

According to Madison Health statistics, in Madison County:

• 11.8 percent of Madison County residents report they have been given a diagnosis of diabetes;

• 23.1 percent of Madison County residents over the age of 45 report diabetes as a major health challenge; and

• Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the county.

Hunter has had Type 2 diabetes for about 10 years. He sees his doctor regularly and takes medication for the disease. “I really don’t want to go to the next level and take any type of insulin. The older I get the more I am starting to see some of the signs of (problems) in my feet and hands. It is really starting to bother me. I thought about, after their presentation pointing out that strokes and heart attacks go hand-in-hand with diabetes, maybe I need to do something,” Hunter said.

So Hunter started the four-session program this week.

The Madison Health Diabetes Program includes:

• A one hour individual appointment with a registered dietitian for a health assessment and personalized goal setting.

• Four 90 minute classes every other week, covering the diabetes disease process, nutrition and carbohydrate counting, exercise and activity, travel, sick day management, and prevention and management of long-term complications.

• An additional one hour individual appointment within six months of class graduation to review dietary and blood sugar control goals.

• Access to additional monthly cooking and meal planning classes.

The classes are Wednesdays and participants can attend either a morning or evening session.

Hunter talked to his doctor and got the needed referral. He had his one-on-one meeting with Douglass last Friday.

“I learned a lot about dining out,” he said. “When I talked to her she altered the plan because I also want to lose weight. I was honest when I said I was on a ‘see food diet’ — I see food and I eat it. There’s nothing I don’t care for. I eat it all, and that’s my biggest problem. I just overeat. When I sit down I basically eat two meals.”

Hunter learned he actually should eat more often. Douglass has him on a controlled four meals a day program.

“Instead of eating the big meals, I just eat the smaller meals to promote energy consumption during the day instead of building it up into fat. I need to walk more and be more active. I walk around the courthouse as much as I can. I get 30 minutes a couple of times a day,” he said.

Components of the program include:

• Evaluating and analyzing blood sugar results;

• Carbohydrate counting;

• Developing individualized meal plans;

• Creating confidence in disease management; and

• Heart healthy lifestyles.

In the classroom at Madison Health just before Hunter’s first class Wednesday night, Renz talked about goals. “When we start out, the first goal is to lower blood sugar, then weight loss is right under that. When you lose weight, your blood sugars get better. We focus on that overall picture of health. This is slow and steady. Nothing too dramatic too fast. I tell people, the tortoise always beats the hare.”

Renz said A1C results won’t be done again for three months. “If I get just a one percent drop, that is better than no percent drop. We want him (Hunter) to change and feel better every single day. My ultimate goal is — feel better every day. If he wakes up every day feeling better, if his blood sugar is under 200 every day, good. Are we going to have bad days? Sure. But now I am teaching David the basics of having him control this. And it works, but it takes work,” Renz said.

Have there been any surprises so far during the first week? “It is not as strict as I thought it was going to be. It’s pretty easy to do. I don’t know why it can’t be done,” Hunter said.

What are Hunter’s goals? “To control my blood sugar. To know what is good and what is bad,” he said. “My father was diabetic and he worked hard to control it. I watched him work at it, and while his blood sugar was high it was never as high as mine. I thought that I should have learned a lot back then but I didn’t. What I’m being told now my dad went through but I didn’t listen.”

The program was certified about a year ago by The American Diabetes Association. In this certification, they determine that there are people at Madison Health who are experts in diabetes and can help those in need. About 100 people have gone through the program so far.

NOTE: The Madison Press will be with Commissioner Hunter during his next diabetes class Oct. 25 and report how his health has progressed and how is blood sugar levels have improved.

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County Commissioner David Hunter, at right, reviews material for his four-session Madison Health Diabetes Program with Darren Renz, director of the Madison Health Food and Nutrition Program. Commissioner David Hunter, at right, reviews material for his four-session Madison Health Diabetes Program with Darren Renz, director of the Madison Health Food and Nutrition Program. Gary Brock | The Madison Press
Hunter strives to control disease with Madison Health program

By Gary Brock

Reach General Manager/Editor Gary Brock at 937-556-5759.