Our Patients Say it Best

Your friends and neighbors from throughout southwest Michigan and beyond share their experiences at Spectrum Health Lakeland. Do you have a story to share? Click on the "What's Your Story" button and complete the form. 

Taking a Shot at a New Life - Emma Goodloe


Jan, 2019

Physicians: Sharon Deskins, MD; Nicole Morrissey, RD

Having been a fifth grade teacher in Benton Harbor for 35 years, while raising two sons, and now her grandson, Emma Goodloe, 66, is used to being busy. So in April when she started to not feel well, and was forced to slow down, her husband urged her to go to the doctor.

“I had never felt so awful,” said Emma. “I was dehydrated but still going to the bathroom every ten minutes.”

Emma had an appointment set for the following week, but her husband urged her to go in that very day. After arriving and having some tests done, Emma was told her A1C levels were at 14.9% and her glucose levels were over 400 mg/dl. A normal A1C level is below 5.7% and a normal blood glucose level ranges from 70 to 130 mg/dl. Emma’s levels suggested she was indeed at a diabetic level and she was sent straight to the emergency department at Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph for treatment. She was admitted and spent three days in the hospital.

“I am so thankful my husband insisted I go in,” said Emma. “I was told upon arriving that my condition was life threatening.”

Emma is no stranger to the risks of diabetes. Her family has a long history of diabetic complications. Her older brother has lived with diabetes for 15 years and her other brother passed away 30 years ago after slipping into a diabetic coma.

Because of her family history, Emma had been monitoring her sugar levels for a number of years with the help of her primary care physician, Sharon Deskins, MD. They had been working together to keep her from slipping from prediabetic levels to officially being labeled as diabetic.

Upon arriving at the emergency department, her care team administered insulin and showed Emma and her husband, Herman, how to provide the shots she would need to take four times each day.  

 “I told them I wasn’t going to take shots for the rest of my life,” said Emma. “I couldn’t live like that.”

Emma was referred to Lakeland Diabetes and Nutrition and began meeting with diabetes educator, Nicole Morrissey, RD. With her help and guidance Emma improved her diet and exercise routine — with hopes of possibly reversing the diagnosis by losing weight.

“Nicole gave me the tools to become healthier and happier,” said Emma.

Emma started walking every morning with her husband and neighbor, and over time, began to see the weight come off. But exercise was only one piece of the puzzle.

“I started reading articles on healthy cooking and talked with Nicole on what I should and shouldn’t be eating,” said Emma. “It helped that my family was willing to go on this journey with me.”

Emma’s grandson and husband were her biggest supporters. Over a few months’ time she was able to lose 32 pounds. Her husband also lost 20 pounds.

“Diabetes is a family thing,” said Emma. “If Herman had not supported me, I wouldn’t have made it.”

Through making these life changes, Emma’s A1C and blood sugar levels are now the lowest they have ever been. She no longer has to administer shots and is only taking one oral medication daily. 

Looking back on her experience, Emma feels an immense amount of gratitude for her care team.

“I am so thankful for Dr. Deskins and Nicole,” said Emma. “I appreciate the way they worked together to help me achieve a better life. My entire outlook has changed.”

Emma is now looking forward to living her life shot free and feeling the best she ever has.

Lakeland Diabetes and Nutrition offers a dedicated team of both registered dietitians (RD) and registered nurses (RN). Our certified diabetes educators (CDE) specialize in the care of patients with diabetes with locations in Niles, St. Joseph, and Watervliet. For more information, click here.


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