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Learning to Manage Diabetes

When Dorene Boyle was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 65 — through a routine blood glucose test during her annual physical — she admits she didn’t know much about this chronic disease.

Doreen Boyle and Judy Pentedemos
Dorene Boyle of Chelmsford with Judy Pentedemos, APRN, BC, CDE, Clinical Manager of the Diabetes Management Center

“It was all new to me,” she says. “I was pretty scared because I’d heard stories of people losing their vision or a leg, and I thought that’s just what happened to you when you get diabetes — you end up on dialysis.”

But when she met Judith Pentedemos, APRN, BC, CDE, Boyle’s outlook began to change.

My primary care physician referred me to Judy,” Boyle relates. “She really listens and gives you support. If you start a new medicine, you’re not on your own. You can call her any time, even at night or on weekends. And she works with you to figure out what’s best for you. The entire staff at the Diabetes Management Center are so helpful and supportive.

Boyle initially took oral medications to manage her diabetes, but her blood sugar levels were “getting out of control,” as she describes it. She is now taking insulin (by self-injection) newer oral medication that she says functions by flushing sugar out of the body before it reaches the pancreas.

In addition to assisting with medication management, the center provides a wealth of education and support through such services as group classes, one-on-one nutritional counseling and support groups. Boyle has taken advantage of them all.

“A lot of what affects my blood sugar are the stresses in my life,” she explains. “I’m a caretaker for a lot of people and I just wasn’t taking good care of myself.”

One of the aspects of the center’s support group she appreciates most is being able to learn from others’ experience.

“I’ve also learned what not to do,” she continues. “People share mistakes they’ve made that caused them to lose a leg or go blind. You learn that it’s your choice whether you end up like that or not. And you realize the seriousness of diabetes — it’s not going to go away, and you have to change your eating style and way of life if you want to stay healthy.”

Boyle says that when she was first diagnosed with diabetes, she was in denial about the disease and her role in managing it.

“It seemed that whatever I did, it wasn’t working, and I didn’t think there was anything I could do about it,” she admits. “But now I know that having diabetes isn’t the end. And I feel like I’m in more control because I understand so much more.”

She has the numbers to prove it, too. Boyle’s A1C level (a test result that reflects the average blood sugar level for the past two to three months) was once 13 — and now it’s 6.2. For most people who have previously diagnosed diabetes, an A1C level of 7 or less is a common treatment target.

“I feel like things are going in a good direction now,” she adds.

Learn Diabetes Definitions

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