November is the beginning of the holiday season and is also National Diabetes Month, a time when communities across the country work together to bring attention to diabetes.

Each year has a focus, and this year’s focus is on prediabetes and preventing diabetes. The campaign this year is: Small Steps Big Difference — Preventing Diabetes is Within Your Reach! Prediabetes is a serious health condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. According to the CDC, more than 1 in 3 U. S. adults have prediabetes — that’s 88 million people.

However, the majority of people don’t know they have it. The good news is that by making small healthy lifestyle changes, it is possible to prevent type 2 diabetes and even reverse your prediabetes. The KDPCP (Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program) with the Department of Public Health through the local health departments offer free in-person and online Prediabetes Basics classes and Healthy Living with Diabetes DSMES (Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support) workshops to help you learn to manage your prediabetes and diabetes as part of your daily life.

The workshops are proven to improve blood sugar control, which leads to decreased risk for diabetes complications, increase self-confidence on how to manage your diabetes, increase healthy eating and physical activity, and improve your quality of life.

One attendee, Kenneth, attended the online Healthy Living with Diabetes workshop and knows too well the perils of having prediabetes. During Kenneth’s routine three-month checkup in 2004, he was diagnosed with pre-diabetes.

“I really didn’t know what that meant. I was told to exercise, only intake seventy-five carbohydrates per meal, and eat things in larger quantity of foods that had less carbohydrates. My first A1C was 6.3%. At the next checkup, I was told I was not exercising steady enough and that I must lose some weight. So, I started walking daily anywhere from one mile to a mile and six tenths. In 2005 I started walking, in 2012 I had walked 516 miles, and in 2017 I walked 241 miles,” he said.

“I also went from 172 pounds to 138 pounds and maintain around 145 pounds. I attended a class at U. K. Extension Office in Eddyville around 2005 or 2006 and learned how to eat, if I wanted a piece of pie or cake, I must eat less of other food. After many years, I saw in the newspaper an online class was being held. I called and talked to Kelly and got enrolled. On the first day, I met DeAnna the co-teacher. The ladies did a great job explaining the choices. I did this as a refresher class thinking this might again remind me of the things I had learned and also the things that might have changed.

“The handouts that Kelly mailed me helped me to follow the class and allowed me to refer to them later. I appreciated the things that were mailed during and after the class. My A1C has run from 5.9% to 7.1%, and right now it’s remaining stable around 6.2%. I check my blood sugar daily and record it, and take it to my doctor at my three months checkup,” said Kenneth.

“I have never had a blood sugar test over 190. That’s pretty good, I think. During this time period, I also have had high cholesterol but exercising and taking medication has helped me control this. I started at a high of 242, and my last test was 141. Kelly and DeAnna did an awesome job teaching and explaining all the material and also discussed the everyday things that can happen. They helped me to manage the disease and to continue to enjoy this life,” he said..

For more information on the in-person or online prediabetes basics classes and diabetes workshops contact Kelly Dawes BSN, RN, MLDE, CDCES (Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist) with the Pennyile District Health Department at any of the following clinics:

Caldwell County Health Center 270-365-6571 (Closed every Monday)

Crittenden County Health Center 270-965-5215 (Closed every Wednesday)

Livingston County Health Center 270-928-2193 (Closed every Tuesday)

Lyon County Health Center 270-388-9763

Trigg County Health Center 270-522-8121 Ext. 212 (Closed every Thursday)