The word “sweet” is deeply woven into our vocabulary as a descriptor of satisfaction and pleasure: Sweet as pie, sweet as honey, sweet natured.
But when it’s linked with sugar, sweet also can be a culprit, as Doris Oberholzer, 71, discovered. Doris had been employed at her local bank for more than 43 years as a customer-service representative and teller.
At her retirement, she finally had a chance to relax and do what she’d always wanted—and that included indulging her sweet tooth, especially a love for sugary snacks and soft drinks.
Doris had been retired for five years when she noticed a few suspicious symptoms. “I had dry mouth, which I’d heard could be a sign of diabetes, and my energy levels were low,” she says. “Still, I wasn’t one to run to the doctor for every little thing.”
A friendly push
But then her daughter, Sherry, called and urged her to have her blood-sugar levels checked at the WellSpan Waynesboro Hospital Health Fair. The free annual clinic has served the Franklin County, Pennsylvania, community for more than 30 years. The fair provides lab screenings for blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as tests for blood pressure, bone density, and vision health.
Her daughter’s family was planning to attend, and Sherry wanted her mother to accompany them. “You need to go, Mom,” she’d said. Doris finally conceded. For 12 hours prior to the event she fasted, eating and drinking nothing except water to be ready for a blood-sugar screening.
The fair was crowded with families, and Doris found the exhibits beautiful and informative. One of her favorite events at the fair was a fly-in of the LifeNet81 Medical Helicopter.
But the most remarkable discovery of Doris’s visit was her own blood glucose numbers. “I was surprised by how high they were,” she says. “I was told I had type 2 diabetes and should follow up with my doctor.”
Once Doris accepted this shocking news, she visited her physician, who validated the numbers and started her on a diabetes-treatment plan that included both medication and lifestyle changes.
“Now, every four months I go in for follow-up and monitoring,” she says. Doris is working currently on moderating her glucose levels by watching her diet, especially carbohydrates. “I don’t know what would have happened to me if I hadn’t gone to the fair,” she says. “Diabetes can have so many terrible effects, with vision and so on. I’m trying hard to keep it under control.”
Heading off illness
And that’s one of the prime purposes of the health fair, as WellSpan Summit Health Vice President for Community Relations Barb Rossini notes: “The fair is important because it is just one of many ways our organization makes it a priority to be here for the health and well-being of community members, not only when they are sick, but before they become ill.”
- Excessive thirst and increased urination
- Dry mouth
- Hunger and fatigue
- Blurred vision
- Tingling or numbness in hands and feet