By DAVID GREEN
When Laura (Flint) Blaker of Morenci learned she had a problem with diabetes, she thought she could take care of the problem on her own.
That was a mistake.
“It was probably six months before I went to class,” Laura said. “I tried to do it on my own. But what I was doing wasn’t best for me.”
She thought she had it figured out—she thought that diet food would make a difference—but she eventually learned that her condition wasn’t improving at all.
Why the hesitation to get help?
“I thought they would come down hard on me and make fun of my diet,” Laura said.
She was wrong. She got just the help she needed from the nurse leading the class.
“My sugar started coming down really fast,” she said.
Since starting the class eight months ago, she exercises regularly, she has blood sugar level is down inside the normal range and she’s lost 60 pounds—so far.
Due to Laura’s success with the class and her enthusiasm for diabetes education, she was chosen to serve as the honorary chairperson of the 2009 Walk For Diabetes May 16 in Tecumseh.
“We’re thrilled to have her serve as our honorary chairperson,” said Terri Kowalski, director of diabetes and nutrition education for ProMedica Health Systems. “It takes a special kind of person to serve in that position.”
Diabetes was no stranger in Laura’s family.
“I grew up watching my mother, grandmother and aunt struggle with diabetes daily until they all eventually passed away from complications of this awful disease,” Laura wrote in a biographical essay for the diabetes walk brochure.
A family history of diabetes places a person in a high-risk group, but lifestyle factors can also bring on the disease. Lacking in exercise and overweight, Laura was hit by a double whammy.
“I think mine was both,” she said. “I probably had it for years without knowing it.”
She found out about it one night when she became very ill and was taken to the emergency room.
“The first thing they did was test my blood,” she said.
She was soon taking two medications to help control the disease. That’s when she thought she could handle it at home, but failed.
Diabetes education classes at Herrick Medical Center made all the difference for her. She learned to read food labels, she learned the importance of regular exercise and she learned a lot about proper diet. She also received a lot of positive encouragement along the way.
“There are horrible complications with diabetes. I’m living proof of that,” Laura said. “I wish my mother would have been able to receive the same education that I have.”
Walk for Diabetes
Laura Blaker will lead the way on the 5K walk through Tecumseh May 16. Although a few participants might not choose to go the entire route, it won’t be any big chore for Laura. She now walks up to six miles a day with her exercise routine.
Walkers pay $15 to participate in the fund raiser and families pay $20.
“What’s special about this fund raiser is that it’s for the local community,” said Terri Kowalski. One hundred percent of the proceeds go for patient scholarships.”
Not all participants in the diabetes education programs are able to pay, she said.
“The scholarships are there so no person who needs help goes unserved,” Kowalski said.
The walk goes through downtown Tecumseh and also along the river. Strollers aren’t recommended because of the unpaved park trail.
Donations can be made for those who aren’t able to participate in the walk.
The walk is planned on the same day as the community’s Promenade event.
For more information about the walk, call Brian Stella at 517/424-3399.