A diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes is serious but with some lifestyle changes, a person with the diagnosis can still have a better health outcome in the long term.
The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows 100 million Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes. According to the CDC, 90 percent of pre-diabetics don't know they have the disease. Diabetes puts patients at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke, among other things.
"It is very rare that a patient presents with classic signs and symptoms," says Nurse Practitioner Gail Partridge, with Drexel University's 11 th Street Family Health Services Center.
Karen Henderson was a diabetic and didn't know she had the disease. While she wasn't feeling herself, she put off seeing her doctor longer than she should have. Any excuse Karen could think of, for months.
"I started feeling really bad I was drinking the water laying around I was like wait a minute this is not a norm," said Karen.
Finally, a trip to her doctor confirmed Karen's suspicions.
"She said maybe we need to check you for diabetes. I was like 'ohhhh, it ain't that - I ain't no diabetic."
Her blood sugar revealed type 2 diabetes. The good news was only oral medication was required, at first.
"I said I don't want this medicine. I said I don't want to depend on it because if I miss it, what do I do?"
According to Nurse Practitioner Gail Partridge, some patients are in need of insulin immediately.
"I was like, I can't," said Karen. So, she dug in.
"I changed my eating habits totally. I lost 28 pounds, and I haven't been on my medication now for 3 years."
She was so good at dropping or cutting back bad foods and creating new recipes for healthy meals that taste good, she volunteered to show others. She became so good at that, she was then hired to run a cooking and nutrition program at the 11 th Street Family Services Center.
She even got her fiance, Mark Beckham, to work at dropping his medications, too.
"They're getting ready to take me off of it. I've lost 8 pounds now I come to the gym here, I have a personal trainer 2 days it's working for me (feel batter?) MUCH better," said Mark.
Both Karen and Mark say they have so much energy now. They are far more active with their young grandchildren. They are eating better and cutting way back on grease, sugar and food portions. They exercise and they follow their doctors' orders.