Edgecombe County residents will have a chance to experience “a day in the life of diabetes” on Monday.
“This is interactive,” said Charlotte Goodwyn, coordinator of the chronic disease program for the Edgecombe County Health Department. “They’re (participants) going to be able to see what it feels like to experience symptoms that diabetics experience.”
Vidant Edgecombe Hospital and the health department are partnering to coordinate Monday’s event, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the hospital library. The event will take place in conjunction with November’s observance of Diabetes Awareness Month.
“I just want to bring awareness to it,” said Nikki Wooten, program assistant for the health department’s chronic disease self-management program. “It’s such a silent disease, a lot of people don’t know what people who have it have to go through.”
Among the diabetic symptoms people will experience is neuropathy, the loss of sensation in the extremities. Participants will be asked to put on thick gloves to block their sensations and perform daily activities such as tying a shoestring, Wooten said. At another booth, participants will be asked to pour water from a pitcher into a glass while wearing a blindfold.
Goodwyn said the event will also teach diabetics how to “self-manage” their symptoms.
“Diabetes out of control is serious,” Goodwyn said. The chronic disease can lead to loss of visual acuity, overwhelming fatigue and loss of sensation.
Eating healthy foods is one of the ways to manage diabetes. Attendees at Monday’s event will receive diabetic-friendly Thanksgiving recipe samples within the daily values of carbohydrates and sugars. Everyone will also have an opportunity to register to win a $25 Food Lion gift card.
Another display at Monday’s event will illustrate the cost of diabetes. In 2009, 186 hospitalizations in the county resulted in a diagnosis of diabetes, resulting in a total cost of $3,486,278.
“Chronic disease is among the most common and costly health problems, though it is the most preventable form of disease,” according to a community benefit grant application for the chronic disease self-management program.
Monday’s event is one of the tools the program will use to fulfill its goal of improving healthcare outcomes for the underinsured and uninsured in the county. Education, nutrition counseling, discussion groups and exercise groups are other ways that the program reaches out to those with chronic diseases.
Chronic disease was declared the second top priority issue for the county through a community survey conducted from March through August 2010 and the Edgecombe County Community Health Assessment Advisory Group. Diabetes mortality rates for the county are 1.5 times the state’s rate, according to the 2010 community health assessment. Risk factors for diabetes and other related chronic illnesses such as heart disease are obesity and physical inactivity, according to the grant application.