When Meriwyn Travisano was diagnosed with diabetes a decade ago, her doctor told her to lose weight.
Having struggled with the scale most of her life, Meriwyn, 51, felt dismissed. She didn’t go back to that doctor, and her weight continued to climb. She eventually found it difficult to walk long distances and avoided her friends because she was uncomfortable with how she looked.
When her legs began to swell and develop open sores that became infected, her friend, a doctor, urged her to go to CentraState’s Emergency Department. From there, she was admitted to the Critical Care Unit with dangerously high blood sugar and lymphedema, a type of swelling in the arms or legs that occurs when lymph fluid can’t drain properly. Board-certified endocrinologist Shilpi Singh, MD, explained that Meriwyn’s body was having trouble regulating glucose, causing her blood sugar to spike. Dr. Singh’s plan of care included medications to stabilize Meriwyn’s blood sugar—step one on her path to wellness.
Once her blood sugar was under control, Meriwyn was referred to the Central Jersey Wound Treatment Center, where she met nurse practitioner Diane Yacono, NP. Diane, the second person on Meriwyn’s lifesaving team, was empathetic to Meriwyn’s discomfort. Meriwyn received a series of bandaging treatments for the open wounds on her right leg. After several weeks taking the medicines prescribed by Dr. Singh to regulate her blood sugar, her wounds finally began to heal.
“I was at my rock bottom, and Diane made me feel better mentally and physically,” Meriwyn explains. “You don’t realize how bad you feel until you start feeling better.”
On the last day of wound therapy, Diane referred Meriwyn to the Diabetes Prevention Program at the Novo Nordisk Diabetes Center at CentraState. That’s where she met wellness coach coordinator Neftali Flores, Jr., RN. The program provides practical tips for making long-term dietary changes, increasing physical activity, and managing stress. Participants work with a diabetes educator and health coach to set goals and create action plans.
“When you want to improve your health but are far behind, it can seem like climbing a mountain,” Neftali explains. “We help patients make small, lifelong changes that stick.”
Meriwyn enrolled in the program for a year at no cost thanks to a grant at CentraState. Four months in, she lost 40 pounds and her A1C test, which reflects average blood glucose levels over the past three months, dropped from 12 to 5.5. She still receives occupational therapy with Robin Hawkins, OT, to prevent swelling from lymphedema.
“This has been the first time that I can talk about my health and feel like someone’s listening,” says Meriwyn. “These four people treated me like a person, not a medical file. They came into my life at just the right time.”
Learn more about the Novo Nordisk Diabetes Center at CentraState at centrastate.com/diabetes or call 866-CENTRA7 (866-236-8727)