A 57-year-old diagnosed with diabetes from Port Elizabeth recalls having no gusto before the Diabetes Care Programme came to his aid.
A blood sugar test result of almost three times the normal level was enough to shock his family doctor, Hilton Coltman tells us.
The Algoa Park, Port Elizabeth resident says he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2009, but continued life as normal. “I didn’t take it seriously. I never went for blood tests and I wasn’t taking my insulin regularly. My diabetes was totally uncontrolled, until early 2019.”
As can be expected with uncontrolled diabetes, coupled with a poor lifestyle that saw Coltman drinking sugary cooldrinks and eating unhealthily, he fell extremely ill. “I was not well. I was tired, moody, and I always had headaches. My eyes would water… I went to my doctor and he tested my blood sugar levels. When he saw my reading, he flipped. It was off the charts, at 20 or 23,” he says.
Getting everything wrong
Coltman’s doctor set him up on Discovery Health Medical Scheme’s Diabetes Care Programme. The Care Programme provides support and enhanced care for members who are living with diabetes. For members like Coltman who qualify for coaching from a diabetes nurse educator, the Scheme will reach out and provide access to this service through Guidepost. The service entails regular phone calls from a specialist diabetes coach who supports and guides the doctor’s recommendations, gives reminders to take medication and other similar interventions for a period of up to six-months.
“The engagement from the nurse, just speaking on the phone, finally made me aware of the condition. Without telling me what to do, she encouraged me to take account of my diabetes with guidance. I didn’t accept my diabetes before I had access to the diabetes nurse educator from Guidepost through the Diabetes Care Programme,” he says.
“When someone asked what my diet was like, I think the question should have been, ‘What weren’t you eating?’ It was not ideal,” Coltman confesses.
“I got advice, mainly about my diet. I wasn’t aware of the effect of food. The nurse recommended better starches, like diabetes-friendly basmati rice. I have stopped downing cooldrinks and reduced potatoes by 80%. My house is looking like a garden with all the greens we are growing,” says Coltman, whose wife, Jennifer, is insulin-resistant and also following the guidelines.
Turning the tide on diabetes
Coltman says that with his medication, new diet, and regular exercise that he achieves through his job as a maintenance fitter, he is energetic again.
“For the first time in 10 years, I feel like my energy is up, my sugar is controlled. I feel healthier,” he says.
“At midday, I got a 6.1 blood sugar level reading, which is a complete turnaround. Before the program, I was eating food because I enjoyed the taste. Now I look at food as fuel, what I need to get from point A and to point B. Cakes and sweet stuff don’t have the attraction to me that they did because they don’t sustain my energy.”
Coltman said the Diabetes Care Programme and the benefits it has given him, such as the Guidepost programme, is the best intervention he has experienced in his lifetime. “It’s a really wonderful programme. I feel free; I don’t feel too tired to play with my grandchildren. I have a zest for life again and I haven’t had a bad day since I started.”
He adds that he has escaped COVID-19 thanks to his good health. “It has made all the difference to my awareness. My good health and better management of my diabetes has made a difference to my COVID-19 risk, I believe, because I’ve been exposed to the virus twice but so far, have not been affected.”
If you have diabetes, you have to keep measuring your blood sugar and taking your medicine. The Chronic Illness Benefit helps with the basics, but Diabetes Care gives you and your Premier Plus GP access to more tools and benefits to give you the best support and health outcomes.
Welcome to your new, personal health goals and rewards, will soon be available on the Discovery app. Your health insights are about to get more personal - and rewarding!
There's a lot the world can learn from a medical team working in small-town KwaZulu-Natal, and treating diabetes through innovation and collaboration.
Discovery Health Medical Scheme, registration number 1125, administered by Discovery Health (Pty) Ltd, registration number 1997/013480/07, an authorised financial services provider and administrator of medical schemes.