This classroom tutor finally found the help she needed, resulting in a better score.
Elementary classroom assistant Cris Laspina knows all about the need for personalized attention in order to help students succeed. She needed extra help too–with her health.
Cris began experiencing the excessive thirst and frequent urination symptoms of type 2 diabetes in her late 40s. Tests confirmed the diagnosis and her doctor prescribed oral medications and long acting insulin. But her condition failed to improve significantly.
After more than 10 years of diabetes treatment without effective control, in May 2017 Cris visited endocrinologist and diabetes specialist Brian Burtch, MD. Her A1c was still dangerously high at 9.6 percent. The HgbA1c is a simple blood test that correlates with a person’s average blood sugar over the past 3 months. The goal for most diabetes patients is to have an A1c less than 7 percent.
“I lowered Cris’ long acting insulin, eliminated a few of her pills and started rapid acting insulin at each meal,” says Dr. Burtch. “She also met with our diabetes education team.”
By August 2017, Cris’ A1c was down to 7.6 percent. For further improvement, Dr. Burtch’s team focused on teaching her how to match her insulin dose for the amount of carbohydrates she ate.
“It can be challenging to improve A1c’s under 8 percent on a complex insulin regimen. Generally the patient is doing most of the right things. It’s simply a matter of better consistency,” explains Dr. Burtch.
To gain consistency, in 2019 Dr. Burtch suggested Cris consider using a new innovation, a continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
“At first I put off switching to a continuous glucose monitor. I was reluctant to try something new,” Cris says. “But diabetes wasn’t my only problem. I needed knee replacement surgery and my A1c was still too high to have it.”
Diabetes increases the risk for infection and poor healing after surgery. So, hoping for better blood sugar control and the go-ahead for surgery, finally, in early 2021, Cris began using a CGM.
Scoring higher in overall health
With the CGM, continued assistance from Dr. Burtch, and insulin advice and adjustments made by certified diabetes educator Kathy Fagan, RN, and pharmacist Ashley Hixon, Cris’ A1c reached an acceptable level for surgery. She had knee replacement in July 2021 and healed well. She’s planning for her second knee replacement in 2022.
“I love using the continuous glucose monitor,” says Cris. “It’s easier, more convenient and keeps better track of my sugar. I wish I would have started it sooner!”
“Diabetes is a very common disease,” states Dr. Burtch. “For many patients it’s the most challenging medical problem they deal with on a daily basis. You can’t take a day or even a meal off. If you do, you immediately see it in your blood sugar control. I can easily say that continuous glucose monitors have been the best innovation for diabetes patients that I’ve seen during my 15 years of endocrinology practice.”
“Dealing with diabetes every day and with every meal is a lot of work,” Cris says. “Some days you want to give up. But this is a serious disease and learning to manage it is worth the effort.”
You should know
Continuous glucose monitors track the patient’s blood sugar every 1 to 5 minutes and give high and low sugar alerts to patients and caretakers. They store 90 days worth of blood sugar readings. Speak with your primary care provider or endocrinologist, or call the UH Lake Health Diabetes Education team at 440-354-1622 to learn more about this new technology.
Meet the provider
Brian Burtch, MD
Director, Diabetes Education UH Lake Health
Specialty: Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Office: Mentor, 440-266-5000