Davisburg woman learns to manage her diabetes through education program

Norine Watson, of Davisburg, loves nothing more than being around and caring for her animals. Her three dogs, six horses and 12 cats bring her joy. But about a year ago, she didn't feel her energetic self.

In fact, Norine, 75, recalls, "My life was going down the drain. I was not feeling well."

She was tired, thirsty, hungry, lethargic and made frequent trips to the bathroom. Sadly, she was spending less time in the barn and paddocks. Her family physician ordered blood work. The diagnosis: type 2 diabetes.

According to the National Institutes of Health, type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of all Americans diagnosed with this metabolic disorder. All told, approximately 26 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic, widespread condition characterized by high blood sugar, known as hyperglycemia. When the body does not produce or properly use insulin, blood sugar levels rise. Insulin is a hormone needed to transport sugar from the blood into the cells of the body for energy.

"My doctor was horrified with the results of my hemoglobin A1C test. My numbers were so high," she explains.

Norine has a family history of diabetes, her deceased mother lived with it, as does her son.

After Norine's diagnosis, her doctor's first prescribed order was for her to attend diabetes education classes. She was reluctant to join any class, but her physician was adamant, "You do it now!"

Norine was referred to Beaumont's Outpatient Diabetes Education Program at Beaumont Hospital, Troy.

Nurse and certified diabetes educator, Azza Elmorsy, talked Norine into joining her small class of eight. It didn't take long for her to appreciate the value of a class that teaches its students how to manage their diabetes.

She also appreciated Azza's demeanor as the instructor. Norine liked that she was calm, compassionate and able to communicate well with "a delightful sense of humor."

Explains Norine, "Azza covered a multitude of useful information, including treatments, managing your blood sugar levels, along with the importance of meal planning and exercising. If you listen, the information will change your life. You need to take control, because no one can do it for you."

And with her newfound knowledge, Norine set out to take control of her diabetes. She:

  • Stopped smoking
  • Got moving- routinely walked on her treadmill, walked her dogs, exercised her horses, painted and gardened
  • Ate sensibly

Norine not only felt better, with more energy, but she lost 20 pounds.

On her class evaluation, she praised Azza and called the program both "life-changing and lifesaving." She adds, "I will live a much better life with a full understanding of my diabetes."

She'll soon depart her horse farm in northern Oakland County for a summer trip to England and Scotland.

"I'm so grateful I was diagnosed with diabetes," explains Norine. "It made me do something."

After her diabetes education class, she got involved with the monthly support group at Beaumont, Troy. A group also meets at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.

The Diabetes Outpatient Education Program at Beaumont is certified by the Michigan Department of Community Health and is recognized by the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes outpatient education classes are available at Beaumont, Grosse Pointe; Beaumont, Royal Oak; Beaumont, Troy; and Beaumont Medical Center, West Bloomfield. For more information, call 800-328-8542.