LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Diabetes affects nearly ten percent of the U.S. population. It's a chronic disease that has no cure, but it can be managed and there are lots of resources in our community to make that possible.
If you're a diabetic, like Cissie McLeod, staying on top of your sugar intake each day is an on-going task. "I have been keeping my daily record of my blood sugar and so when I'm up several days in a row, I know something's wrong," says Cissie.
For the past 15 years, Cissie has been living with diabetes. This is something that CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital Registered Dietitian Kelli Wimberly sees frequently in Southwest Louisiana. "In our area, especially, a lot of it has to do with our lifestyle and culture," says Wimberly, "of course everything we do is centered around food, and as we age and put on weight and become sedentary, it is a risk."
Wimberly says when it comes to diabetics living healthier lives, education is key. "Learning what affects their blood sugars, stress levels, medication, exercise or lack thereof and of course, diet."
Diet is where things get a bit trickier for diabetics. As part of the diabetes management course Cissie is enrolled in, she gets classroom time to learn about the disease and she can take part in a grocery store tour - to learn the ins-and-outs of making the right food choices. "It's just wonderful to get together with people who have the same problem you do," says Cissie, "and to hear them share what they eat or how they help plan their meals."
If a person's diabetes gets out of control, the complications can be life-threatening. "Heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage," says Wimberly. But with some extra attention to detail and some help along the way, you can live a full life with diabetes.