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Diabetes Education

Finding out you have diabetes can be overwhelming. But the first thing you should know is this: you’re not alone. We are here to help.

Whether you’ve just learned you have diabetes or have been managing it for years, consider our diabetes educators your coaches. We help you through all the information and can work with you to help manage your diabetes. And that’s important. Because in doing so you’ll reduce your chance of developing the serious complications of diabetes, including heart disease, dental disease, eye disorders, kidney disease, nerve damage and lower leg amputation. Only in learning about diabetes, can you successfully manage your disease, and that, in turn, will help you live a full, joyful, healthy life.

With the potential complications listed above, it’s only natural to have some fear of your diabetes. There’s also the fear of how it will change your life. And simply the fear of the unknown. But rest assured, your health is our #1 priority. So, take a deep breath, and let’s take this one step at a time.

Our Certified Diabetes educators can provide you individual personalized help with:

  • Insulin education
  • Glucometer use training
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Continuous glucose monitoring guidance
  • Community presentations

Our diabetes experts are eager to help people around southwest Wisconsin learn about diabetes. Education helps everyone live better. If your community group or school class might benefit from learning more, our educators are available free-of-charge to tailor a presentation. Call us at 608-342-4709 for information.

Meet Our Certified Diabetes Educators

Sandy Andrews, RN, CDE

SandyAndrews_cropEDIT2A native and long-time resident of Cuba City, Wisconsin, Sandy is a graduate of Northeast Iowa Community College. She’s been a registered nurse in clinical settings, a supervisor in our Medical/Surgical Department, our Emergency Room, and our Ambulatory Services Department, and with her high level of experience, she brings a wealth of skill and knowledge to her role as coordinator of our Diabetes Education program at Southwest Health. Since 2005 she’s been working with our patients, community members, and our own staff to bring countless people ideas and skills for healthier living through her quality diabetes education.

Joan Bahr, RD, CDE

joah-bahr_mg_8972A native of Bismarck, North Dakota, Joan attended North Dakota State University before earning her undergraduate degree in dietetics from Colorado State University. She also completed a Master’s Degree in Project Management at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville. Over the years, Joan has enjoyed a healthy career at Southwest Health, during which she has helped countless people find new ways to eat well and live well. She never stops learning and is always eager to listen, share, and bring new ideas to her individual clients and her presentation audiences.

Our Diabetes Education Program

Under the leadership of these two outstanding experts above, the diabetes education program at Southwest Health has helped countless people. Ours meets all the national standards of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and is an ADA recognized program. From monitoring your blood sugar to taking medications to choosing healthier foods to getting the right physical activity and all the little things along the way, we’re here to help you learn and live well. We’re here for you.

You may benefit greatly from a team approach, so it’s great to consider who will be a member of your team. With us, you can assemble a full team of experts who will be ready to support you and help you with all the challenges you may face. Get to know each of them, including your family physician, pharmacist, registered dietitian, and, of course, diabetes educator. Consult your team regularly, and get your questions answered. See your health care providers even when you are well in order that you stay well.

In any case, if you think you have diabetes, call your doctors. Or, if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, call one of our certified diabetes educators at 608-342-4709.

What Can You Expect From Our Diabetes Educators

The plain fact is everyone with diabetes needs diabetes education. Why on Earth is that? Because diabetes is complicated, and everyday simple activities affect it. Your blood sugar changes with what you eat… and with what you don’t eat. It changes with your activity levels — what you do, how hard you do it and how long you do it.

Your body’s insulin (which you’ll learn all about) also affects your blood sugar — your dose, the type of insulin, and when you take it relative to eating, exercising and resting.

Even stress and changes in your daily routine may affect your blood sugar levels. These things all change your blood sugar levels, and you will need to understand how to stabilize your blood sugar under all these circumstances. The more you know, the healthier you will be.

A key member of the diabetes management team, your diabetes educator will help you learn how to take good care of yourself. They will guide you through your treatment and help you with any fears, issues, and problems you encounter along the way.

Your diabetes educators will answer your questions, teach you to test your blood sugar and help you maintain it. They’ll be there to help you sort through the foods you like to find foods that are healthy for you. They’ll help you figure out the changes you can make to your diet that will best help you manage your diabetes. And they’ll help you all along the way to make sure your eating tasty, easy, healthy meals you and your family will enjoy and benefit from. Your diabetes educators will also be a coach of sorts, to help you create a plan for healthy physical activity. Exercise and other forms of physical activity are the perfect partner to your healthy eating plan, and never fear, your coaches will not fail to take your lifestyle, your abilities, your time availability and all your other unique personal factors in helping you identify the best path to starting and maintaining healthy activity. They’ll help you set small, realistic goals, taking it step by step at your own pace, and create rewards for you when you’ve reached your goals. You can do this.

Ongoing Support

Gdsc_6694etting support when you have diabetes is critical. Why? Because connecting with others makes you more informed. Hearing from others also re-energizes you and motivates you to do the important job of taking good care of your health. Talking with others also eases anxiety about having diabetes.

That’s why we created our monthly Healthy Living Group — a diabetes support group open to everyone. The Healthy Living Group is part class and part discussion and all about supporting you with the information and motivation you need to live well and thrive. Our group meets the fourth Wednesday of each month from 1:00 to 2:00 pm. During that hour you can count on us delivering important updates about diabetes treatment, offering an educational presentation for you to absorb, and engaging the group in discussion. Whether you listen to speak up, that one hour each month will help keep you on track and motivated. And whether you come sometimes or all the time, you’ll always find the Healthy Living Group to be warm and welcoming. Everyone, including family members, is invited to join us.

Other Things You Need To Know

Managing your diabetes requires testing and supplies. So, it’s important to find the best possible, most affordable health plan — one that covers diabetes-related medications and supplies, beginning with a glucose meter and test strips. If you’re not already covered, you’ll need to look into coverage, and we can help. On our Patient Financial Services staff are health care insurance navigators and others who can help.

Some of the supplies you’ll need:

  • Blood glucose meter
  • Blood glucose test strips
  • Lancing device
  • Lancet
  • Medicine
  • Syringes
  • Sharps container
  • Medical identification
  • Food, activity, and blood glucose journal, record book, or mobile app

If this is all new to you, fear not! As we said above, we’re here to help. Before you know it, you’ll know all about these items and how each of them helps you control your diabetes.

A Final Word

Finding out you have diabetes can feel like it’s turning your life upside down. Though you may not feel normal, that response is completely normal. Don’t despair. Because as normal as feeling down is under the circumstances, it won’t be helpful to you to stay that way. Instead, find a path to understanding and accepting your feelings. Here are a few brief tips on doing just that:

  • Never stop learning about diabetes and how to live healthily
  • Talk with family and friends. Find sources of support in the people you love and care about.
  • Set some limits. Controlling your diabetes will take time and energy, especially in the beginning. So, don’t over commit when it comes to extra activities and demands of others.
  • Learn coping skills. Reach out to your diabetes educators or others to learn ways to deal with stress, manage your time, and make the personal and emotional adjustments required to keep yourself healthy and well.
  • Come to our Healthy Living Group. Find out what it’s all about and how we can all help each other.

Lastly, give us a call to set up the first consultation with one of our certified expert diabetes educators. Call (608) 342-4709.