Jane Thomas knows a thing or two about surgeries. She’s had several, and there are more in her future. The Mt. Ayr resident and grandmother of four couldn’t be happier with her care at Ringgold County Hospital. Dr. Ed Wehling in particular has helped her with a variety of issues. “When Dr. Wehling came, I had a lot of trouble with abscesses. He’d take one out, and another one would appear. So he went into my stomach through my throat and looked around. After that, I had a panniculectomy. That’s when they remove a layer of fat on your lower abdomen,” she explained. “But before that, he worked n my legs. I call it the ‘Roto-Rooter’ procedure! He opened up the arteries in my legs and it really helped.” Jane’s health issues can be attributed to her Type-2 diabetes. “I’ve had it for years. Usually I can keep my blood sugar under control. It was fine for five or six years, but now it’s up and down. We’re having a hard time getting anything to work.” She explained that it’s very difficult to lose weight because of the insulin she must take. “It’s a fat-storing hormone.” Even after she lost weight after the panniculectomy, it’s been difficult to get around. Her enthusiasm and good cheer hasn’t been dimmed, and she appreciates the staff at RCH. “We are so fortunate to have Dr. Wehling,” she said. “He’s so knowledgeable and is really top notch. At the same time, he’s a hoot!”
Dr. Wehling is keeping an eye on Jane’s cartoid arteries. Right now they’re about 70% blocked. When they reach 75%, she’ll need another surgery to have them cleaned out. In the meantime, she’s scheduled with RCH orthopedic surgeon Dr. Homedan for a procedure on her arm as a result of a stroke she suffered several years ago. Jane’s positive attitude and good humor is obviously serving her well. “We are just so lucky to have this hospital and this staff in our small town,” she said. “The nurses provide such good care and the surgeons are the best.”
Diabetes and Vascular Disease
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for daily life. There are several types of diabetes, however Type 2 diabetes (previously called “adult onset diabetes”) is the most common type, accounting for 90-95% of all diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is associated with older age, obesity, physical inactivity, a family history of diabetes, a history of gestational diabetes, and race and ethnicity.
The majority of adults with diabetes die from vascular disease. Their risk is 2-4 times higher than adults without diabetes. Diabetes causes vascular disease if there is too much glucose in the blood. This excess glucose damages the blood vessels.
Diabetes is linked to several vascular diseases:
• Retinopathy, abnormal growth of blood vessels in your retina
• Nephropathy, a disease that damages the tiny filtering units of the kidney
• Neuropathy, a condition causing a loss of sensation in the feet and toes
• Atherosclerosis, hardening and narrowing of the arteries
• Stroke, the sudden death of brain cells due to lack of oxygen
Complications from diabetes may be prevented by:
• Eating well-balanced meals in the correct amounts to keep blood sugar levels as close to normal (non-diabetes level) as possible. Managing your diet so that you are eating a wide variety of foods including vegetables, whole grains, fruits, non-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, poultry, and fish.
• Regular physical activity to lower your blood glucose (sugar), blood pressure, and cholesterol. It also reduces your risk for heart disease and stroke, relieves stress, and strengthens your heart, muscles, and bones. In addition, regular activity helps insulin work better, improves your blood circulation, and keeps your joints flexible.
• Losing some weight if you’re overweight. People with diabetes are more likely to be overweight and to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
• Stop smoking. Both smoking and diabetes put you at risk of vascular disease, and together they can kill you.