How Do You Know if You Have Diabetes?

By Deborah Brown, Grace Cottage Family Health Diabetes Educator
as originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer’s Graceful Health column, March 24, 2017

Do you have diabetes? If you said no, how do you know?

As many as 8 million Americans have this disease without knowing it. And even without obvious symptoms, undiagnosed diabetes can still be ruining your health.

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. Heart disease and stroke are two-to-four times more common in those with diabetes. It is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults, and of end-stage kidney disease. More than half of the amputations of feet and legs are due to diabetes; 60-70 percent of those with diabetes have some nerve damage; and diabetes contributes to serious infections and gum disease.

Diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to produce or use insulin—the hormone that helps move glucose inside the cells to provide energy.


Caring for Your Heart

By Dr. Maurice Geurts, Grace Cottage Family Health

February is the month of Valentine’s Day, when we focus on emotions of the heart. February is also American Heart Month, a time when we are encouraged to consider the mechanics of this important organ.

Fortunately, most of the time, our hearts do their work silently and reliably, without any effort on our part. We shouldn’t take them for granted, though. Our hearts do need our attention, as certain lifestyle behaviors do often lead to malfunction.

The most common disease of the heart is the one over which we have the most control.


Challenge Yourself: Get Ready for the 5K

By Jorda Daigneault, Grace Cottage Family Health Nurse Practitioner

Think you can’t run a 5K? You’re not alone. And yet, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise.

Take, for example, this story from the home page of the “Couch to 5K” website:

“With the help of the Couch to 5K program, in less than seven months, I went from a 47-year-old, 104kg, 30 cigarettes a day sort of guy, to an 82kg, 0 cigarettes, running 45 to 50 kilometers a week sort of guy. Ten months after finishing C25K I completed my first marathon. Since then I have run another 5 marathons, as well as 9 ultra-marathons including three over 100km.”

Maybe you think this is all hype, some marketer’s made-up story to sell the program. I know otherwise—because I’m a success story too.


Careers in Nursing

Lisa May

By Lisa May, RN, Grace Cottage Clinical Nurse Educator

Nurses are an integral part of the healthcare team, and this is a career with many opportunities, both in terms of jobs available, and of the many specialties within the field.

As the population ages, our need for nurses is growing, but surprisingly, enrollment in nursing schools is down. I want to encourage those considering this field by providing helpful information and by sharing some of my own story.

Career opportunities for nurses exist in hospitals, clinics, schools, long-term care facilities, and in community health. Emergency, trauma, cardiac, pediatrics, mental health, and oncology—these are just a few of the healthcare areas that need nurses.


Secret Life of the Clinical Lab

By Erin Lamson, Grace Cottage Lab Technician

Have you ever visited a lab for blood tests and wondered what happens to your specimen? If you have, you’re not alone. Lab testing happens behind closed doors for obvious safety reasons, leaving the clinical laboratory nearly invisible to the public eye. As a result, clinical lab professionals have one of the least understood roles in health care, even though a recent estimate suggests there are roughly 300,000 laboratory professionals in the United States.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) claim over 7 billion clinical lab tests are performed annually in the U.S. Tests range from relatively simple ones like finger-stick glucose tests, to highly complex ones requiring special expertise, such as molecular diagnostics. Most tests are considered moderately complex, including common tests like cholesterol levels. Regardless of complexity, test results provide helpful, sometimes critical information to healthcare providers and their patients.


Diabetes and the Holidays? Be Sure You Have a Plan

By Deborah Brown, Grace Cottage Diabetes Educator

It’s true that the holiday season presents extra challenges for diabetics and others with food restrictions, but it’s possible to enjoy the special foods you love and keep your sugar in balance, if you go into it with a plan.

Perhaps it was easier for some people in years past, when there were clear boundaries regarding “naughty” foods a diabetic shouldn’t eat. Now, healthy eating is all about making good choices. This is an important part of taking care of diabetes.


Need Basic Resources? I Can Help!

Jane Wheeler

By Jane Wheeler, Grace Cottage Patient Resource Advocate

It’s getting cold out there. This is the time of year when people stockpile wood, fill their oil or propane tanks, and put extra food in their cupboards and cellars. With winter coming on, everyone has resource challenges that need to be addressed.

Winter also brings on health challenges, as colds and flu go around, and slippery conditions make accidents more likely.

Peace of mind comes with having needed resources in place, and peace of mind is important to your health.

Are you prepared for winter? If you have any questions about how you’ll meet your health and household needs this winter, and you live nearby or are a Grace Cottage patient, I want to talk to you.


At Grace Cottage, Good Food is Good Medicine

Staff With Local Produce

By Denise Choleva, CDM-CFPP, Grace Cottage Dietary Director

You hear the phrase a lot these days: “Food is medicine,” and it makes a lot of sense. We know there are plenty of foods that can make us sick because they have too much sugar, artificial ingredients, or fat. So the opposite has to be true too, that food can help make us well.

Healthy food in a healthcare setting makes good sense, for patients as well as for employees and community visitors. That’s why I signed the “Healthy Food in Healthcare” pledge in 2012, and that’s why I’ve been so committed to using the freshest, locally produced food here ever since.


Living Well Through the Ages

By Dr. Jesper Brickley, Grace Cottage Family Health

Fall is a time to reflect on transitions in life. In the words of Albert Camus, “autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower.” It is a time of transition and reflection. The measure of time bears little importance compared to what fills the time being measured. We pass through time like rays of light through crisp autumn trees. We are enriched by the process of aging and reflect that which we absorb and find meaning in.

Grace Cottage’s Healthy Aging Conference, to be held Nov. 15-16 in Grafton, Vermont, will give us time to reflect on these ideas and to share a wealth of information about how to celebrate the accumulation of years and to age healthfully.


Grace Cottage Adds Lymphedema Therapy

Abby Abbot

By Abigail Abbott, Grace Cottage Physical Therapist

The bad news first, and then the good news: most women dealing with breast cancer are so focused on getting rid of the cancer, thinking if they achieve that, it will be the end of the experience. Lymphedema is probably the furthest thing from their minds. But there’s a high probability they’ll have to deal with this disease, as high as 50-50, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The good news is that specially trained physical therapists can make this experience much less traumatic. And further good news: help is nearby! Grace Cottage now has two physical therapists certified to provide this therapy, Cindy Kenyon and me.