Aside from a hip surgery five years ago, Barb Erickson says she hadn’t had many health issues. But a routine doctor’s appointment last year changed that, when Erickson got a call back saying she had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
“It was a blow, to say the least,” Erickson says. “I was sitting in my car in a parking lot, and I said, ‘Can I call you back? I need to think about this.’”
When she called back, she was referred to Loring Hospital’s registered dietitian and diabetes education coordinator, Jill Williams.
Going through the diabetes program, Erickson says now, has made all the difference.
“One of Jill’s first comments, I’ll never forget, was that diabetes was nothing to be scared of,” Erickson says. “That hit home with me. I was like, ‘Maybe I can do this.’”
Erickson completed four sessions with Williams, who taught Erickson about managing her diet and blood sugar and how to read nutritional information. Williams provided a variety of handy materials, including a guide Erickson still keeps in her purse.
After talking to an out-of-town friend whose husband has diabetes, Erickson realized just how lucky she was. Her friend said the diabetes program they were taking part in hadn’t provided much information on managing diet.
“She didn’t know how to help her husband, so I gave her some information from Jill,” Erickson says. “I just wish everybody with diabetes had the opportunity to go through Loring’s program because it really relieves your mind and gives you the ‘I-can-do-this’ feeling.”
Looking back, however, Erickson says she was skeptical at first because she felt like she already knew “everything there was to know about nutrition.”
But the program quickly opened her eyes to how much more there was to understand, and Williams’ attitude and openness made the process less intimidating.
“She’s just a very positive, upbeat person,” Erickson says. “If I did have a question or comment that was concerning me, she could turn it into something positive.”
Erickson has come a long way since that first phone call with the diagnosis, and she’s much more confident now.
“After meeting with Jill and going through the classes, I don’t fear diabetes anymore,” she says.
“If this is what I’ve got to live with, I can do it.”