HealthWatch: Diabetes treatment is not one-size-fits-all

Health Watch

Identical twins Pam and Pat are about as full of life as you can get.

“So that whole time I was completely normal,” Pam Gast of Appleton explains. Pam is referring to not having diabetes even though her twin sister did.

“Completely normal?,” her twin, Pat Jones of Kaukauna chimes in, as both burst into delightful laughter.

But what these twins didn’t know,…

“I did not know I was diabetic, Pat says about her diagnosis of diabetes. “I felt good. I felt like I was healthy.”

…could have put their lives at risk.

“She could have died because of the stroke and things like that,” Pat says about her sister, Pam.

Dr. Andrew Pahl, with Aurora BayCare Medical Center, says diabetes, left-untreated, can damage almost every organ system in the body.

“That’s why early detection is so important,” Pahl explains. “If we had missed it and this had gone on for a number of years, both Pam and Patricia could have been at risk for heart disease, kidney problems, eye problems and other vascular problems.”

Despite sharing the same genes, Pam and Pat were diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes 14 years apart.

“She could eat anything,” teases Pat. “It was disgusting.”

Dr. Pahl also says Pam and Pat are a perfect illustration of why a diagnosis of diabetes doesn’t have to mean a lifetime of pills or injections.”

“It’s the exercise and diet control that have helped them most,” Pahl says.

Even if they’re not always “perfect” themselves.

“We decided we were going to the ‘Y’ every day, so we do that. I watch my diet, she doesn’t,” says Pat.

“I’m a little more naughty,” Pam agrees, with more laughter.

Dr. Pahl cuts them a little slack.

“They want to live to a good old age and they’re doing great things to improve the odds of that happening and having a great quality of life,” says Pahl.

For these two that quality of life includes travel.

“We go on vacation together all the time and we have a ball,” Pat says.

“I feel so much better,” adds Pam. “I have so much more energy.”

Despite the current pandemic, both Pam and Pat say they feel confident going to doctor’s appointments. Both point to all the safety measures Aurora BayCare center has in place, like taking temperatures of everyone who enters the building, wearing masks and continually sanitizing surfaces. Aurora BayCare calls it their “Safe Care Promise.”

“I feel very, very safe,” says Pam.

These twin sisters say they plan to continue being vigilant about their own health…. like it or not.

“I like Dr. Pahl a lot,” says Pam, with Pat quickly adding, “Yes and he’ll probably never forgive me for that ’cause now he’s stuck with both of us!”

Dr. Pahl says some symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes include, frequent urination and always being hungry or thirsty. If that describes you, he says it’s a good idea to get checked out by your doctor.

The twins say they understand why some are hesitant to go out anywhere, even to their doctor amid the pandemic. But they say the alternative, is not an option.

“I know some people are scared, but it’s too dangerous not to go, says Pat. “Your health is important.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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