Dot Skinner has her blood sugar level read in the lifestyle clinic. — Photos by Clayton Hunt/The Coaster
Two forums on diabetes were recently held in response to the growing number of people in the Coast of Bays region with diabetes. The sessions were organized by the Connaigre Peninsula Health Care Centre’s chronic disease prevention and management lead team in conjunction with World Diabetes Day — Nov. 14 — which marks the birthday of Canadian Dr. Frederick Banting.
Banting and his Canadian partner, Dr. Charles Best, are credited with the discovery of insulin in 1921.
Mercer said that the team consists of an interdisciplinary group of nurse practitioners, continuing care nurses, public health officials, the director of health services at the centre and other medical professionals there.
“We wanted to go out to the community to conduct an education and awareness program around diabetes,” said Trina Mercer, a primary health facilitator and a member of the lead team.
“This is why we asked Dr. Ben Hamed to be our guest speaker at the two forums as he has an extensive educational and working background in treating diabetes.”
Hamed said it’s important that people in the Coast of Bays become more aware of diabetes.
“Because of the prevalence of diabetes in our area, I just wanted to raise the importance of understanding diabetes rather than speaking about it as a simple disease,” he said.
“It’s a disease that can be very costly and can have very nasty complications that affect people’s lives. People need to understand the importance of diabetes not only on their health, but on their social and economic lives as well.
Hamed said that one of the contributing factors is that many people are less active than they were years ago.
Trena Snook, the director of health services at the Connaigre Peninsula Health Care Centre, said Hamed has taken on an instrumental role in visiting clinics in the Coast of Bays to get the message out about the seriousness of diabetes and in educating people about some of the preventative measures they can take, such as controlling diet and exercise.
“We’ve been used to treating people for diseases when they have contracted the disease,” Snook said.
“But an initiative like this will help to make people aware that there are things they can do to reduce the risks of contracting diabetes.”
Some local residents with diabetes also addressed the audiences in Harbour Breton and Milltown.
Shannon Stone’s son, Aaron, is a Type 1 diabetic, who was diagnosed in elementary school.
Stone said parents need to be aware of the symptoms, especially if the disease is prevalent in a family.
“Even though my mother was a Type 2 diabetic, I failed to recognize the symptoms, such as frequent thirst and urination, that Aaron was displaying before his diagnosis,” she said.
“We need to get the awareness out to people about this disease and have people realize that it can be a life-changing problem. Parents need to educate themselves about the disease and watch for symptoms that a diabetic will display before being diagnosed. It’s important that people be diagnosed as early as possible, especially in cases of Juvenile or Type 1 diabetes, as this can have serious complications in a young person’s life.”
Aaron Stone is 14 today and a Grade 9 student at King Academy. He wears an insulin pump that is attached to an injection site on his stomach. The pump injects insulin into his body when it is needed.
“People need to become educated about this disease as it’s becoming more common in our area,” Aaron said. “One of the key messages that I want people to realize is that, even if they have diabetes, they can take measures to control their problem instead of having their diabetes control them. If you take the proper measures, you can lead a fairly normal life even with Type 1 or even Type 2 diabetes.”
Derrick Snook, a Type 2 diabetic, talked about how diabetes has affected his family’s life, both economically and socially.
“People should see a health professional as soon as possible if they suspect they have symptoms that could mean they are a diabetic,” he said.
The two forums concluded with lifestyle clinics where people could have their blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index checked.