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Victorian diagnosed with pre-diabetes fights to protect her health

By JR Ortega
Oct. 29, 2011 at 5:29 a.m.
Updated Nov. 2, 2011 at 6:02 a.m.

Pam Poarch eats a homemade lunch with her husband, Shawn, on a recent afternoon at their home in Victoria. Pam was diagnosed with pre-diabetes and for the past three weeks has been working to eat healthier to combat the disease. Both Pam and Shawn have already lost weight and she says that eating better has already made her feel healthier.

Something hadn't felt right.

Pam Poarch's body was at war with itself, but the Victoria resident did not know why, or for that matter, who was winning.

But a quick jab to a finger had the answer.

Poarch is on the verge of becoming diabetic, and several thousands in the Crossroads also are at risk.

Programs are in place to prevent full-blown diabetes, but local advocates say awareness of preventive education is lacking in the communities.

'It's a horrible disease'

Poarch found herself crying for several hours.

The idea of having diabetes was too much.

"I'm scared of diabetes," Poarch said. "It's a horrible disease, so I sure don't want to get it."

But what she failed to realize was that this wasn't diabetes, at least not yet.

This was simply a grim warning, and she was told to diet, exercise and was put on 500 milligrams of Glucophage, an oral medication used to control the blood sugar of non-insulin dependent diabetics.

Poarch's A1C, which is used to provide the most accurate blood glucose average, was slightly elevated.

The window to be viewed as a pre-diabetic has shrunk over time from 70 to 120 to 70 to 100, said Joy Holladay, a family nurse practitioner at Mission Valley Clinic, where Poarch was diagnosed three weeks ago.

"We see it every day. It's kind of sad," Holladay said. "And it's getting worse."

Holladay speaks of the growing diabetes epidemic - a grimly anticipated one out of every three people is expected to have Type I or Type II diabetes by 2050.

For Poarch, it was about just not choosing enough of the right foods.

Poarch is overweight but never purposely overindulged, she said.

However, she and her husband, Shawn Poarch, often chose to eat out.

But that has all changed.

Preventing diabetes

If there is one thing Poarch doesn't do, it's gamble, especially when it comes to her health.

And when Poarch stepped on the scale last week and saw she dropped seven pounds, she was ecstatic.

She and her husband, a non-diabetic, have been cooking their own meals, saving them money and possibly their lives.

Changing was not easy.

Poarch is a licensed nurse at an area nursing home and her husband works a part-time job on the weekend and goes to school for respiratory therapy during the week.

The easy solution was fast food, her husband said.

Now they work at eating healthier.

"It's easier to maintain when you've got a support group," Poarch's husband said.

Poarch's husband has joined her and has been researching online healthy eating support sites.

This has been a great help, Poarch said.

Support is a great thing, and this is what the community needs to do, Holladay said.

"It's so alive in our community," she said. "We need to be their biggest cheerleader."

Some community programs are already in place, said DeAnna Alvarez, program manager at Texas AHEC East Victoria Region.

Do Well, Be Well is a diabetes prevention program through the Victoria County AgriLife Extension Office that has several classes on controlling and preventing diabetes through education, healthy eating and exercise, Alvarez said.

Throughout the year, other programs launch on healthy eating and fighting childhood obesity, she said.

"I think the community is very lucky to have so many opportunities," Alvarez said. "We just need people to take advantage of them."

Poarch will attend anything she can just to stay diabetes-free, she said.

Following through with checkups is important and she feels doctors doing check ups need to focus on diabetes.

"Even though it upset me, I'm very glad I found out so I could do something now, rather than later," she said.

Clarification: A blood glucose of 70 to 100 or 70 to 120 refers to a routine blood check, not an A1C. The story was unclear.



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