When Paul Dworkin entered the hospital last spring for treatment of necrotic cellulitis he received a second diagnosis he wasn’t expecting: Type 2 diabetes.
“I was surprised, but kind of shrugged it off,” says Paul, 44, who got the news after routine blood tests. During his 10-day hospital stay, his doctor and nurses talked to him several times about the importance of taking his diagnosis seriously, and they put him on a strict 1,800-calorie-a-day eating plan for diabetes.“Still, it didn’t really sink in,” says Paul, who works as a restaurant manager. “I had this attitude that I was invincible.” That is, until a nurse told him during his hospital stay, “Look, you’re a diabetic and you’re still going to be one when you leave here.”“That hit home,” he says.
Shortly after he was discharged, Paul started attending classes at the St.Vincent Diabetes Center. There he learned about key aspects of diabetes management and treatment, including blood sugar management, monitoring blood glucose, nutrition, meal management and exercise.
In just a few months, Paul has made significant changes and progress. He’s exercising regularly and eating healthier, his weight is down, and his blood glucose level is improving. He says he would not be where he is today without the care and support of his St. Vincent physician, Dr. Jason Everman, and the staff at the St. Vincent Diabetes Center, including certified diabetes educators Karen Ten Cate, Registered Dietitian, Joanne Lewis, Registered Nurse and Chris Linares, Administrative Assistant.“These people are so helpful and knowledgeable,” Paul says. “Whenever I have a question or a concern about something, I call them and they get right back to me with an answer. I can’t thank them enough for all they have done to help me.”
Karen also credits Paul for doing his part to turn things around.“Paul is very motivated to take care of himself and achieve optimum blood sugar control,” she says. Paul stays on top of his insulin doses, carbohydrate gram intake and activity level, and he has adopted a cooking style that is lower in total fat and higher in fruits and vegetables. He also looks up the nutritional information at restaurants whenever possible and checks his blood sugar before and two hours after each meal.“I think he continues to do all these things because he feels dramatically better,” Karen says.Paul says he’s taken what he’s learned at the St. Vincent Diabetes Center, and through his own research has created a personal plan that incorporates his lifestyle and hectic work schedule. For example, Paul is on his feet all day and doesn’t always have time to sit down and eat a balanced meal in the middle of his work shift, so he eats protein bars and small snacks at work to maintain his energy level. He also ensures that he allots time for exercise before work four to six times a week. And because he loves to cook — and eat — he has learned how to make some of his favorite meals healthier.“My philosophy is don’t think about what you can’t have,” Paul says. “Think how can I have what I want?”Paul says he is committed to his new lifestyle and reaching his long-term health goals of losing even more weight and becoming insulin free.“When I play by the rules and do what I should, I feel great and jump out of bed in the morning.”
Here are some of Paul’s tips that have helped him on his journey to healthful living: