In the golden years of his retirement, Glenn Stapleton has relearned how to live – especially how to eat.
"I have diabetes, but that’s not who I am," he says. The 55-year-old Milton, W.Va., resident says the assistance of the Joslin Diabetes Center eduation affiliate at St. Mary’s Medical Center has been vital to his healthy lifestyle and mindset. With the encouragement and expertise of its staff, not to mention the support of fellow Joslin patients, Maynard relearned how to eat.
During his career at UPS, his late-night hours would mean lots of late-night binging. This past December, the Ona, W.Va., resident – who has been retired for about a year – was diagnosed as having borderline Type II diabetes. Stapleton’s physician immediately referred him to the Joslin Diabetes Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center.
"He referred me there to take classes to learn how to eat right and exercise," Stapleton says. "The classes have been a big help to me. The instructors helped me as far as what to eat and how to read labels. I didn’t know anything about that. The important thing is to eat in moderation."
Stapleton has seen immediate benefits. His weight dropped from 248 to 218 pounds, and he said his energy level has risen considerably.
"My sugar is down where it’s supposed to be," he says. "Hopefully, I’ll be able to get off my medication. My goal is to get off all of this stuff." He explained that he also takes medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
In addition to eating well, Stapleton says he walks at least an hour each day of the week.
Above all else, Stapleton says his health lifestyle changes would have been extremely difficult without the guidance he received at Joslin.
"The people at St. Mary’s Joslin Diabetes affiliate have been really helpful and encouraging," he says. "I’ve enjoyed it, and I would recommend it to anyone."
He says he looks forward to a lot of quality time with his family, including his wife Vickie.
"I felt tired all of the time when I first got this," he says. "I don’t have that problem anymore. It’s really done a lot of good for me."
While Dave Maynard readily admits he has diabetes, he doesn't think of himself as a diabetic.
"I have diabetes, but that's not who I am," he says. The 55-year-old Milton, W.Va., resident says the assistance of the Joslin Diabetes Center eduation affiliate at St. Mary's Medical Center has been vital to his healthy lifestyle and mindset. With the encouragement and expertise of its staff, not to mention the support of fellow Joslin patients, Maynard relearned how to eat.
"There were a lot of details I didn't quite understand," he says. "The Joslin educators were able to clear up a lot of things for me. They really fine tuned it. It really brought out a lot of points and details. You get more of a feeling that you're not alone rather than focusing internally on your own problems."
Diabetes is no stranger to Maynard's family. He says his father, a brother and some of his uncles have struggled with the illness. Maynard deals with Type 1 diabetes, the more serious form of the condition.
I was able to control it with diet and exercise, then it got to the point I couldn't do it," he says. "I started to try and educate myself."
Because Maynard also has celiac disease – a digestive intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat and rye and, to a lesser extent, in oats and barley – managing his diet became even more challenging.
"There were a lot of details I didn't quite understand," he says. I really cracked down after attending the Joslin education courses. My numbers were so good that my doctor reduced my medication. He told me, "I don't know what you're doing, but keep on doing it."
As a result, Maynard was able to reduce his diabetes medication from daily to twice weekly. An engineer at Aero Fab in Huntington, Maynard also has embraced the benefits of being fit. He says he exercises from 10 to 12 hours a week, including teaching yoga, Pilates and exercise ball classes.
Just as those forms of exercise benefit the mind, as well as the body, living with diabetes requires a certain mindset.
"A lot of people don't want to accept that their life is going to change," Maynard says. "You just have to accept it and not worry about, ‘Why me?' … I look forward to having many years of good health. A lot of it is due to the information and help I got at Joslin. I'm walking proof that if you work at it and pay attention to what you're doing, you can hold it at bay."
"When I run into someone who has just been diagnosed, I always recommend the Joslin course at St. Mary's."
Jeannie Filipek says her dream is to dance at her granddaughter Madison's wedding.
While Madison is only 3 and Filipek is 63, she believes that special goal is within reach – thanks largely to the help she has received from the Joslin Diabetes Center at St. Mary's Medical Center. Filipek was diagnosed with Type II diabetes – something she says, "I knew was coming, but I didn't know when."
While Filipek says she has taken care of herself for the most part, she says her dietary habits haven't always been conducive to good health.
"I ate the bulk of my foods at 7 or 8 p.m. and went to bed," Filipek says of her habit of working late hours as a bank credit union manager and fasting throughout the day.
"My doctor said this is a wake-up call and Joslin Diabetes Center will give you the tools to avoid going on medication."
While Filipek, who lives in Milton, W.Va., takes small doses of a diabetes drug, she does not have to take insulin. She tests her blood sugar each morning and evening and has embraced the healthy habit of eating regularly.
"I had to re-approach how I eat," she says. "I've been able to lose 20 pounds by cutting carbs. Every 10 pounds I take off, it decreases the amount of medication I need."
Filipek, who has embraced an active lifestyle including horseback riding, says she attributed her loss of energy to simply getting older. She said the weight crept on slowly, and she gradually became less active.
"I've learned a lot about my propensity to do certain things," Filipek says of her experience at the Joslin Diabetes Center. "I'm a holistic person and that's how the Joslin Diabetes Center came into focus. I had to learn foods and rethink how I eat.
"That was all new to me and has been an eye-opener as far as making the right food choices," Filipek says. "Carbs will show up in the sneakiest places. Our society is not set up to healthy eating, and I'm glad to see some restaurants providing information for people to make good decisions."
Filipek says she likens the experience at Joslin to opening up an atlas.
"People give you a road map, and it's up to you to pick the route," she explains. "St. Mary's Joslin Center has the type of diabetes education that can benefit everyone."