When Gloria Siefkes, R.N, speaks to the public about diabetes, she knows she has to share the bad news about the disease. However, she noted, there is good news to report about advancements in equipment and treatment.
Siefkes, certified diabetes educator at St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center, will lead discussions about diabetes at two events this month. Both are free and open to the public.
The first is set for 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, at the Great Bend Recreation Activities Center, 2715 18th St. The second will be at the same time Friday, March 30, at the Great Bend Senior Center, 2005 Kansas Ave.
"I will certainly explain the negative aspects of diabetes, but it also will be important to talk about some of the good news," Siefkes said. "There have been many improvements in equipment and medications."
For example, new blood-sugar meters are more advanced and insulin pumps are making life easier for those with diabetes.
"The needles for insulin injections are much smaller and easier to use," Siefkes explained. "These one-time-use needles are the size of an eyelash and there is less discomfort. In fact, some people tell me they have to watch closely because they don’t feel it.
"There are also new medications available that are more effective," she added. "What was normal 10 years ago is not normal now. We encourage anyone with questions about diabetes to attend these sessions and learn more details."
At the end of each event, Siefkes will be available to check blood-sugar counts for anyone interested; there is no charge.
"We have learned how important this can be," she said. "At one of our diabetes classes, a man had a reading of 500, while normal is about 100. He saw his doctor the next day and began treatment.
"Diet and exercise are crucial to regulating blood sugars," Siefkes added. "And family involvement is so crucial; this can make all the difference in the future health and well-being of a loved one with diabetes."
It might be safe to say, Siefkes added, that diabetes could reach epidemic proportions if dietary habits don’t change. It is estimated that deaths due to the disease will double by 2030.