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Diabetes event has healthy turnout

Scott Csernyik

5/14/2003 12:00:00 AM

Kalamazoo resident Robert Kennedy was quick to ask for his favorite colored Band-Aid after having his blood sugar level tested at the Diabetes Expo on April 8.

"Any green ones?" he asked. "I'm a Spartan."

"No. How about pink?" replied Community Health Representative Laura Therault. "Or what about blue?"

"I wouldn't let you put the blue one on me," replied the Michigan State University booster.

Kennedy was one of dozens of individuals who took advantage of the many free health screenings at the event, which took place at the Soaring Eagle Resort.

"While we were here, my wife and I thought we'd have this done," he explained.

The Kennedys weren't the only Soaring Eagle patrons who thought the expo was an excellent opportunity to gather information on the controllable disease.

Diabetic Floyd Layman of Ney, Ohio was staying at the casino and said he "thought it would be a good idea to get updated on any new information or equipment."

"I might as well get checked while I'm here," he stated.

Mt. Pleasant residents John and Helen Wezensky said this was the first time they had attended the Diabetes Expo.

"We are looking forward to the presentation," she said. "There is a lot of good information on diabetes and the prevention of the disease."

Diabetes prevention efforts need to start years before being diagnosed. Simple lifestyle changes, including healthy eating and regular exercise can help. Since diabetics have a higher risk for heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and blindness, the more carefully they manage their disease, the more likely they are to reduce their risk for other serious health problems.

"We intended to motivate people with diabetes to take control of their health by keeping all of their medical appointments and to make sure their health care providers have the needed exams and tests done yearly," stated Certified Diabetes Educator Tammy House of the Nimkee Memorial Wellness Center. "Diabetes is a self-managed chronic disease. There is no cure, but it is controllable. The more you know about the disease, the better a diabetic can control it and live a normal life."

The disease affects an estimated 491,000 adults in Michigan and was the sixth leading cause of death in the state two years ago. Estimated medical care costs associated with diabetes has been pegged at almost $3 billion yearly with an additional $3.5 billion in lost productivity due to premature death, disability and illness.

Besides blood glucose and cholesterol screenings, the event also featured free dilated eye exams. Complete foot exams were also part of the preventive posture taken at the expo. About one in five diabetics seek medical attention for ordinary foot problems that can eventually lead to serious complications. Routine foot care can prevent most related difficulties, according to House.