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Diabetes expo educates, screens residents (video)

By Elena Watts
Nov. 9, 2013 at 5:09 a.m.

Wesley Nurse Kathy Frels  with First United Methodist Church in Victoria performed free blood sugar checks at the Crossroads Diabetes Expo in the Victoria College Student Center on Saturday.

Rebecca Gonzalez, 41, learned her blood sugar was too high Saturday morning.

Kathy Frels of Wesley Nurse Health Ministries tested Gonzalez at the Crossroads Diabetes Expo at the Victoria College Student Center.

"She showed concern and gave me free strips and a monitor," Gonzalez said.

Frels works for First United Methodist Church, which offers free prescription assistance and supplies to diabetics.

"We serve humanity to honor God," Frels said.

Gonzalez was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2007. The disease runs in her family.

"I kept with the program, checking my blood sugar and changing my diet, but I got away from it," Gonzalez said.

She and her husband, Jay Gonzalez, 46, attended the expo to refresh their understanding of the disease.

Gonzalez recently started seeing Dr. Frederick Niegos, an endocrinologist, so they wanted to hear him speak in a more casual setting.

"I take pharmaceutical grade supplements and exercise," Gonzalez said. "I've been accustomed to a terrible diet all my life, so those changes are slower."

Gonzalez grew up eating lots of carbohydrates and said breaking that mold is tough.

She hoped to renew her efforts at the expo.

The Victoria Regional Health Alliance, a grass-roots coalition to end chronic disease, coordinated the event. The alliance hopes to curb the diabetes epidemic in the Victoria area.

More than 100 community members attended the talks and sessions.

Niegos addressed common questions about diabetes, while Lane Johnson, director of clinical programs and services for Gulf Bend Center, focused on behavioral changes. Nate Lytle, a motivational speaker, spoke at the luncheon.

Five smaller sessions were offered on healthy eating, exercising with diabetes, advanced carbohydrate counting, children with diabetes and diabetes medications.

Free blood sugar, foot and vision screenings also were offered.

"A plan of action to manage the disease can be torn down by stress," said Dottie Bitterly, a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator at DeTar Healthcare System. "We need to treat the whole person - mind, body and spirit."

Bitterly suggests stress-management strategies, including exercise, good sleep, prayer, meditation, massage therapy and yoga.

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