08/01/05 — Diabetes group supports patients and families

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Diabetes group supports patients and families

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 1, 2005 1:46 PM

The number of cases of diabetes diagnosed in children and adults is steadily rising, bringing with it the need for more information and support.

Wayne County Diabetes Group, begun several years ago for diabetics and their families, is also growing, says its president, Jimmie Ford.

"The support group is needed in Wayne County," he said. "Diabetes is an epidemic, a disease that's catching on like wildfire."

The group has already changed locations twice, most recently outgrowing its accommodations at a downtown church. It now meets at Wayne Memorial Hospital, on the second Tuesday of each month in the auditorium. From April through September, meetings begin at 7 p.m. and from October through March, they are are held at noon.

Shelda Johnson, program coordinator and board member, has watched the numbers grow.

"They had around 40 show up at the last meeting," she said. "We're getting young people in there, wanting to do more."

She said diabetes is a chronic disease, but there are lots of steps patients can take to improve their health.

"A lot of times they don't get the full educational program they need," she said. "They need some way of finding out better ways to take care of themselves."

The meetings are geared to what the individual can do for himself, as well as how to manage complications and seek help with things like dental care, eye care and other health needs.

Professionals are also invited to speak during the monthly meetings, Ford said.

"I always tell people, if you got it, you got it, but you can learn how to deal with it a lot better if you come to support meetings," he said. While the speakers offer help and hope for the situation, he said, the sharing from others going through the challenges also proves beneficial.

"When people bring things in and share them, talk openly about what's going on with themselves, it's good therapy for the soul," he said.

"For years this was like a hush-hush thing," Ford said of the formerly rare illness. "We're really trying to get the word out to people. You're not by yourself. Come join us and learn more about it."

While the group has been in existence for several years, Ford's involvement began four years ago. He says he now looks forward to attending the meetings.

"I think they're well-organized," he said. "We even have callers who remind people about the meetings each month."

Ford said a support group like this has been needed for quite a while.

"I tell the people all the time, I'm much better with my diabetes because of the group," he said.

The next meeting will be Aug. 9, with Dr. Michael Brennan scheduled to speak.

For more information, contact Ford at 734-4136.