Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

Diabetes Wellness Series helps prevent or moderate effects of diabetes

By Lailani Upham
Char-Koosta News

Participant Antoinnette “Tammie” Miller meets with Diabetes Education Nurse, Angela Nicolai after class for a consultation session on the services provided from the Tribal Health Diabetes program on Monday afternoon. (Lailani Upham photo) Participant Antoinnette “Tammie” Miller meets with Diabetes Education Nurse, Angela Nicolai after class for a consultation session on the services provided from the Tribal Health Diabetes program on Monday afternoon. (Lailani Upham photo)

POLSON — In 1997, Tammie Miller accepted a free blood sugar test from a tribal health nurse that arrived to offer courtesy tests in Ronan. Her results were not normal and more tests were suggested. Soon after she learned she had type II diabetes.

Since then she has done her best to keep her diabetes under control through diet and exercise. However, through the years she has experienced kidney problems including painful kidney stones that required treatments. She has been maintaining her health through drinking more water and staying focused on diet and exercise, she said.

Although she has lived with the disease for nearly two decades, Miller says it’s always great to get a boost.

“It refreshes every thing I already know,” Miller said. “It helped to know about how the sugar and insulin works in the body and how it affects your pancreas too.”

Accessing the resources available through the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Health Diabetes programs helps keep her focused on her health, said Miller.

She attends the Tribal Health Departments Diabetes Prevention Program’s annual diabetic conferences; takes the eight-week nutritional classes and is currently enrolled in the new Diabetes Wellness Series 10-week diabetes self-management education classes at the Polson Tribal Health. The class is free and is held during lunch hour from noon to 1 p.m. with lunch provided.

This past Monday, Tribal Health Diabetes Education nurse, Angela Nicolai, RN, BSN, went over the basic care and understanding of diabetes with a hefty handout of material for each to use for informational purposes to evaluate their diet and check their sugar levels.

Miller said getting all the knowledge she can with a continuous learning of nutrition and ways to take care of her body through Tribal Health programs is her prevention from something she hopes to never have to do — take insulin shots.

Miller said with a recent loss in her family she lost focus on her health and misplaced her meter and has not tested her sugar level in quite some time.

Shortly after the class Nicolai made sure Miller did not leave without a monitor.

During the class Nicolai informed participants they could call Diabetes Prevention staff members for the necessary supplies such as test strips, lancet, meter, or a logbook.

She told the class it was a huge step and accomplishment to come to the class and encouraged them to keep coming back and calling if they had any questions.

“We want to be the resource for you,” Nicolai said. “It’s a lifestyle change and educating ourselves is the first step to be the best we can. We understand it is not easy.”

Diabetes Wellness Series is every Monday from noon to 1 p.m. from February 6 to April 10 at the Polson Tribal Health 3rd floor conference room; and every Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. at the Elmo Tribal Health Clinic.

The Tribal Health Diabetes Care Day conference will be March 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the KwaTuqNuk Resort in Polson.

For more information call the Tribal Health Diabetes staff: Angela Nicolai, RN, (406) 745-3525 ext. 5085; Nancy Grant LPN, podiatry/endocrinology, ext. 5028; Lynn Hendrickson, B.S. Health and Human Performance Exercise Science, ext. 5150; Jamie Lozeau, RN, BSN, diabetes case management, ext. 5069.
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