Madison man with diabetes changes lifestyle, improves health

Madison man with diabetes changes lifestyle, improves health

In many ways Kevin Carey’s story is the story of diabetes in America. The active businessman was diagnosed as pre-diabetic 10 years ago and chose to ignore the warning. Five years ago he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and again chose to, in his words, “not listen.”

Carey’s journey to diabetes was similar to many — too little exercise and an improper diet led to weight gain. A busy work schedule for the owner of both Badger Bowl and Village Lanes made fast food an easy option.

“I was a fast food junkie. I mean with my business and running around, it would be three or four times a day I’d stop for some fast food,” said Carey, who also said he would drink a dozen sodas every day.

Carey is far from alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, while another 86 million have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic.

“People who have Type 2 diabetes are producing insulin, but their cells no longer know how to use it and it becomes a progressive chronic disease,” said Dr. Sandra Kamnetz, a family physician with UW Health. “Insulin brings to patients with diabetes an increased risk of heart attack; increased risk of a stroke; increased risk of ulcers to the feet leading to potential amputation; and a risk of chronic renal failure even ending up in dialysis.”

Nancy Foulk, a registered nurse care coordinator for UW Health, counseled Carey and provided him with information about diabetes.

“Kevin was a patient that was a bit resistant,” Foulk said.

Foulk never gave up on Carey, and two years ago he came to the conclusion he must change.

“It was probably my health, my back, my knees and my kids saying it would be nice if I was around for a while,” Carey said.

Under the guidance of Foulk and Kamnetz, he has lost 40 pounds over the last 16 months and his health is improving.

“Best I’ve felt in 10 years. No doubt about it,” Carey said.

For Foulk, there is gratification in the success and improved health of patients.

“I think there is always a hooray moment any time I see a better improved lab result, blood pressure, weight loss, smoking cessation, any of that. It is really a hooray moment because I feel like I’ve gotten through to them and they take it seriously and it is really a great feeling,” Foulk said.

Kamnetz believes what stands in the way of too many is simple denial.

“I think a lot of people are in denial. ‘I really don’t have diabetes. Yeah, I’m overweight, yeah, I’m not exercising,’ but you’ll see lots of patients 10, 15 years later who are now on insulin saying, I wish I would have listened, ‘I wish I would have made those changes,'” Kamnetz said.

The statistics also show a high incidence of diabetes in Dane County.

“We can see in the statistics that Dane County has a higher incidence of hospitalization and higher long-term side effects for diabetes than other counties in Wisconsin,” Kamnetz said.