Strength in Numbers
Lynn resident Scott Barlow, 48, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 10 years ago and, by his own admission, didn’t take the news too seriously. “I tried to cut back on soda and stay away from sweets, but I wasn’t very well informed on nutrition and really did the bare minimum,” he says. A truck driver who worked long, physically demanding 12-hour shifts, Barlow says that he tended to eat on the run, which meant a lot of unhealthy fast food. His long days also meant that he usually didn’t have enough time or energy to exercise when he got home. A work-related injury further limited his physical capabilities and he suddenly found his health moving in a downward spiral. “I started gaining weight and my fight with diabetes started to get really tough.”
Shared Medical Appointment Concept
Earlier this year, Barlow made an appointment with Shant Parseghian, M.D., an NSMC endocrinologist who specializes in caring for patients with diabetes, because his blood sugar was “getting a bit out of control” after a recent back surgery. While at that appointment, he learned about a shared medical appointment that Dr. Parseghian holds for patients with diabetes and thought it sounded appealing.
The bi weekly appointments typically have four patients or more and start with a five-minute orientation about the plan for the appointment. All patients sign a confidentiality agreement not to share information about other patients. A medical assistant takes the blood pressure readings of all patients and then Dr. Parseghian reviews each patient’s case, asking and answering questions. Then the doctor or nutritionist educates the group about a specific subject and the patients share tips or challenges.
“I liked the people in the group appointment,” says Barlow. “They were all there for the right reasons, because they wantedto learn and benefit from all the information being provided by Dr. Parseghian. It had a very positive atmosphere.”
With better-focused education from his healthcare team and the added support of other patients, Barlow now feels like he is taking more control of his health. He has been more consistent with taking his diabetes medications and is trying to live an all-around healthier lifestyle. He is also learning from the experiences of the other patients in the shared medical appointments and the efforts they find successful in controlling their disease.
“The shared medical appointments are a great way to augment my individual appointments with Dr. Parseghian,” says Barlow. “They give me an added level of support and education that really helps keep me on track.”
Diabetes is a serious disease, which, if not controlled, can be life threatening. It is often associated with long-term complications that can affect every system and part of the body. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease. In a healthy person, the pancreas produces insulin that helps to metabolize glucose and starches. In a patient with Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does notsecrete sufficient insulin, and the body is resistant to it.
Diabetes can, among other things,contribute to eye disorders and blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, limb amputation and nerve damage. It can affect pregnancy and cause birth defects as well. Although diabetes is a chronic and incurable disease (with the exception of gestational diabetes), with proper medical care, clinical therapies, diet, hygiene and exercise, symptoms and complications can be successfully treated and managed.