Routine blood work results in unexpected diabetes diagnosis

Mar 14,2012

Lincoln City News Guard reporter Jim Fossum, 54, credits his diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in May 2011 as, “the best thing that’s happened in a long time.”

Jim went to Samaritan Coastal Clinic hoping to renew his blood pressure prescription. His provider ordered routine blood work and the resulting diabetes diagnosis came as a complete surprise.

“I really wasn’t having too many obvious symptoms, but was lethargic, overweight and generally just depressed about things,” Jim recalls of the period of time just before his diagnosis.

Jim accepted the test results as an opportunity to make significant life changes. He enrolled in the diabetes education classes at Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital. The three-hour class meets for three weeks and also includes an individual appointment with a dietitian.

“The classes were very enlightening and free-flowing as far as participation goes,” Jim shared. “I actually looked forward to going even though some hard facts regarding the disease were discussed.”

“Patty Meagher at Samaritan was an incredible help,” said Jim. “The one thing that stuck with me more than anything in her instruction was how amazing the body works, the way the organs complement each other in the functioning of the whole ‘machine’, much like a fine-tuned race car.”

The classes taught him about the disease, what to expect, what to look out for and how to tell when progress is made.

In addition to prescribed medication, Jim follows a consistent carbohydrate diet he learned from Samaritan dietitian Mica Ward, RD, LD. “I learned to take a more regimented, disciplined approach to my diet by reading nutrition labels and watching what I ordered when eating out,” Jim commented. “I also started eating Lean Cuisine® meals, which are really quite good.” 

“Perhaps the greatest benefit from this whole experience has been the feeling of satisfaction I get when the day is done and so much more has been accomplished,” Jim said.

Instead of spending money on a gym membership, Jim looked around the house and found plenty of projects to get him up exercising. “I hadn’t done anything in the yard for some time,” said Jim. “It was a ton of physical work, not just shrub trimming but weed pulling, limb cutting, rock moving, etc.”

He also dusted the cobwebs off the old exercise bike in his garage and stretched using elastic bands. His physical regimen, combined with a healthy diet, resulted in 40 pounds of weight loss.

Test results show that Jim is making great progress. His cholesterol level, which once exceeded 400, is now below 150. His triglycerides tested 2,400, one of the highest results his care provider Theresa Curran, PA-C, has seen, is now 51. His cardiac risk ratio from May to December last year was cut in half.

“Jim made huge lifestyle changes,” Curran acknowledged of her patient. “Recent test results place him in pre-diabetic range.”

Jim plans to stick with his new routine. “My attitude is – it can only get better the more disciplined, attentive and motivated you are,” Jim said with determination. “All I know is, I have never felt better, and not just physically, but in almost everything – appearance, confidence and outlook – I have a new lease on life.”