Categorized | Featured, Health

Education key to helping families control, manage diabetes

Rayncin Salmo-Grace and his grandmother Rayven “Sweetie” Grace get some tips from diabetes educator, Becky Stubbs. (Photo courtesy of Hilo Medical Center)

Special to Hawaii 24/7 by Elena Cabatu | Hilo Medical Center Community Relations Manager

When 12-year-old Rayncin Salmo-Grace landed in Hilo Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit last September, he did not know that a malfunction in his insulin pump was to blame and he was scared.

“I was coughing up blood,” he recalled.

Turns out the malfunctioning pump did not supply him with enough insulin, leading to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis that caused vomiting and, in turn, bleeding in his throat. Rayncin faced other symptoms including nausea, pronounced thirst, excessive urine production and abdominal pain.

To help Rayncin get back on track, doctors prescribed diabetes education with Certified Diabetes Educator, Becky Stubbs, RN.

Stubbs helped him trouble shoot malfunctions with the pump. In addition, Stubbs enlisted Rayncin’s grandmother, Rayven “Sweetie” Grace, to ensure success.

“Success with a young patient living with type-1 diabetes really depends on the child’s support system,” Stubbs said.

“Tutu is really supportive and always there,” Rayncin said. “Becky gave me a lot of advice and helped me catch on. I wish there were more people like her to explain diabetes to kids.”

In observance of November as National Diabetes Awareness Month, Rayncin and Sweetie, of Pahala, sat down for an update on his progress.

Rayncin reached in his backpack and pulled out his tablet to show Becky pages upon pages of every meal, what time he ate, his blood glucose level, amount of insulin administered and other notes since he left the hospital. These notes, in meticulous detail and crisp handwriting, were the fine work of Sweetie.

“Becky helped me as a Tutu Lady to better myself and be of service to Rayncin,” Sweetie said. “Because I never cry to lose my grandson, I made it my point to try my best to help him. Now, if I find any classes about diabetes, I tell Rayncin, come on, let’s go!”

Their hard work has paid off. Rayncin’s glucose levels have registered continuously in the target range, between 80 mg/dl and 140 mg/dl, with only an occasional 200 mg/dl.

He is healthy and is better equipped to trouble shoot the now rare spikes in blood sugar that may arise with his insulin pump. Rayncin is looking forward to playing basketball next year.

Stubbs reminds the community to manage weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and stress levels by walking 30 minutes a day.

“Ignoring these health indicators can lead to type-2 diabetes,” Stubbs said. “Those who have diabetes can live well and without complications by keeping blood sugar in control.”

“Improving diabetes control begins with learning about the condition,” she said. “Life-long success is better achieved through ongoing information and support from knowledgeable experts.”

At Hilo Medical Center, the newly formed Diabetes Taskforce is currently working to set up Diabetes in Control, a diabetes community outreach program to help provide more information and management support to our community.

“We are laying the groundwork on Diabetes in Control to be able to offer the community an accredited program and establish a referral system with local physicians and insurance companies,” Stubbs said. “Right now, many people fly to Oahu for diabetes education. Offering this service right here in Hilo would save our community time and money.”

Hilo Medical Center hosted the Health Fair on Diabetes and Kidney Disease Prevention on Nov. 6 to kick off National Diabetes Month. The free health fair included health screening and informational displays and materials.

The National Kidney Foundation, the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s College of Pharmacy, and the American Heart Association partnered with Hilo Medical Center to provide glucose, cholesterol, kidney, and blood pressure screening and happy feet examinations.

In addition to the screening, information on nutrition, medications and exercise was also offered.

An added piece to this year’s health fair included having two exchange students from the Center for Cultural Interchange.

The students, one from Russia and the other from Pakistan, provided samples of a healthy dish and displayed informational posters from their home countries.

“The students were very popular with the public,” Stubbs said. “Many people stopped to sample the tasty dishes and chat with the students about their Hawaii experience so far.”

Hilo Medical Center will be providing updates on its Diabetes in Control program as it progresses. For more information on it or to schedule an appointment with Certified Diabetes Educator Becky Stubbs, call 933-0743.

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