“Dr. Joyner changed my life.” While these are words we often hear at Alliance, the stories associated with them always inspire us.
Meet Michelle Turner, an Alliance patient of almost 10 years who regularly sees Dr. Sheryl Joyner. Michelle works as a CNA with senior adults, and has no health insurance. In late 2014, Michelle’s A1c hemoglobin was 6.3, borderline diabetic. The news hit Michelle hard, as her father is a Type 2 diabetic who needs a lot of care and support. “I knew if I didn’t do anything, I would end up like my dad, having to take insulin, being unable to work, being sick. I didn’t want that to happen.”
At Dr. Joyner’s recommendation, Michelle signed up for Cooking Matters, a six-week cooking and nutrition program at Alliance taught by Inter-Faith Food Shuttle staff. Michelle learned what foods to avoid and what foods to eat. “I don’t do a lot of fat, and I cut most sugars out. I look at all the food labels now to see how much sugar is in there. If it’s not naturally in the product, I don’t eat it. I always have vegetables. Before Cooking Matters, I was snacking on chips, basically anything I could get into my mouth. Now, I snack on fruits. I’ve changed my whole lifestyle.”
Michelle's health transformation didn't stop there. She signed up for the Diabetes Prevention Program, a year-long YMCA program taught at Alliance. The class taught Michelle not only how to eat well, but also the importance of exercise, offering participants a free pass to the Y for six months. "It's not a diet. It's a lifestyle. If I want to have a hamburger, I shouldn't deprive myself, but I need to know that I'm going to have to work it off. I've always been a yo-yo dieter. Now I know that if I'm craving something, I should just eat it, exercise it off, and not feel bad about it."
Amy Ward, YMCA program instructor, said Michelle fully embraced the class. “She jumped in 110%, took advantage of the exercise opportunities, sometimes multiple times a day. We encourage the participants to find what motivates them internally, whether it’s family, friends, or your health, because at the end of the day, the coaches aren’t with you. Michelle knew off the bat what goal she wanted to accomplish. Absolutely nothing got in her way!”
“Before the class, I never exercised. Now, I’m exercising six days out of seven. I’m doing the elliptical, I’m running, I’m dancing. I have more energy. I don’t rest as much as I did before. I feel like I can take on the clients I have. You’re a better caregiver when you take care of yourself.”
Dr. Joyner calls Michelle her ‘star student’. “I love being able to provide support to my patients that enable them to see real, positive outcomes. Michelle changed her own life; I was just able to give her the tools to enable her to do it.”
With changed eating habits and exercise, Michelle has lost 30 pounds, and her A1C sugar levels are normal!
Friends, with your help, we can continue to provide chronic disease management and health educational opportunities to give our patients the tools to improve their health and sustain their improved health. With your support, our patients are getting healthier; they are better parents, spouses, and employees.