Joe Strictland

One of the first things Joe Strickland did after his diabetes was enroll in IRMC’s classes at the Diabetes Education Center, which provides a comprehensive range of programs and services for people with the disease, or at risk of developing it.

Joseph Strickland, a medical courier with Indiana Regional Medical Center, became concerned about a painful blister between his toes that was causing him some significant pain. As a courier, Strickland walks many miles per day, and the pain from the blister was hindering his work.

After several days, the pain had increased and the blister became infected. Without hesitation, he went to the emergency department at IRMC to get it examined.

It was during this visit that his doctors made a startling discovery. Strickland was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and was admitted into the hospital due to the infection, which had moved into the bone of his toe. His doctors advised that the toe be removed.

“I thought that if we could take the toe off and not deal with the infection, that was something I would be fine with, so I agreed,” Strickland says.

Over the course of the week he spent in the hospital following his surgery and diagnosis, Strickland met several times with hospital staff who brought him literature about the disease. Having nothing else to do while there, he “devoured the books from front to back.” He admits the diagnosis scared him, but armed with the literature, he knew it was a disease that he could conquer.

Once discharged from the hospital, Strickland set about changing his lifestyle, including his eating habits, in order to get his diabetes under control.

“I knew I had to change my habits and follow a lot of new guidelines if I wanted to do this,” he says.

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes glucose. With Type 2 diabetes, which used to be referred to as adult onset diabetes, your body either fails to produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels or resists the effects of your body’s natural insulin. It is estimated that more than 30 million Americans have a form of diabetes, with Type 2 being the most common. Cases are expected to rise due to the obesity rate, a main risk factor for the disease.

One of the first things that Strickland did after his diagnosis was enrolled in IRMC’s classes at the Diabetes Education Center, which provides a comprehensive range of programs and services for people with the disease, or at risk of developing it. The courses he attended, which are taught over a series of several weeks, provide diabetes patients with information on how to manage their treatment and administer their insulin shots. They were also taught how to measure their blood sugar levels and what signs to be on the lookout for to prevent a sugar crash.

The IRMC diabetes program also focuses on teaching participants how to control their diets. They were taught how many fats, carbohydrates and protein grams they should consume daily and how to read food labels at the store. It was through the class that Strickland honed his food-shopping skills. Instead of grabbing favorites off the shelf at the market, now he takes the time to carefully read labels and count carbs.

Strickland has proved to be a model student. By reading the labels, his diet improved dramatically and he experienced a significant loss of weight. He was already walking about 7 miles on average per day due to his job, and that helped the weight come down rapidly.

“I lost the weight because I followed the diet and what I was taught in the class,” he says.

Only a few months after his diagnosis, Strickland is doing well. So well, in fact, that his doctor took him off the insulin that was prescribed for his diabetes and only requires occasional blood sugar checks to ensure that all continues well. Strickland credits the rapid improvement in his disease to the courses taught at IRMC.

“The classes were excellent. I was given the tools to take control of my life and get this under control,” he says. “This is your life. You don’t want to gamble with it. You have to do something and that is what I did with the diabetes classes at IRMC.”