EHRHARDT — It can be difficult for a Southern woman to step back and take an honest look at the spread of delicious home-cooked foods covering the Sunday dinner table. Generations gather around, digging in, reaching for seconds. Conversation flows, and the warmth of fellowship and family soothes the soul.
Pansy Elizabeth Clayton on Ehrhardt grew up sitting down to a table laden with fried foods, fatty meats, barbecue and homemade biscuits smothered in red-eye gravy or sugarcane syrup. There were plenty of vegetables too, but most of them were cooked with added fat. Sweet tea and rich deserts completed her meals.
It wasn’t until she was diagnosed as pre-diabetic and lost all the feeling in her toes that Clayton realized what all those years of bad food choices had done to her. She began educating herself about diabetes and realizing she wanted to change her life’s course. As a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, Clayton wants to keep herself fit and healthy.
“I had watched my mother and grandmother and other relatives fight diabetes all their lives, losing their feet, their kidneys, their eyes.” Clayton said.
Then Clayton’s brother developed type 2 diabetes and went on insulin without even questioning the doctor.
“I questioned the doctor,” Clayton said. “I told him, ‘I do not have health insurance and can’t afford to go buy the insulin like my brother does, like my mama did. I’ve got to find an alternative way to do this.’ He said there was no other way — that I would have to take insulin.”
Clayton switched doctors and now checks in twice a year with Dr. Stephen Youmans at University Medical Associates of Aiken. Youmans says Clayton does a great job of managing her disease and taking care of herself. What she is doing is working for her, the physician said.
“When I started on this 10 years ago, my A1C number was 8; now it’s 6.2,” Clayton said.
According to Mayoclinic.com, the A1C test result reflects a person’s average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. Specifically, the A1C test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin — a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen — is coated with sugar (glycated). The higher the A1C level, the poorer a person’s blood sugar control and the higher their risk of diabetes complications.
For someone who doesn’t have diabetes, a normal A1C level can range from 4.5 to 6 percent. A result between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered pre-diabetes, which indicates a high risk of developing diabetes.
Taking control of her diabetes was a big step for Clayton and one that now has her walking regularly, being vigilant about what she eats and sharing her success story with others.
In fact, she’s written a book, “S.O.S. — Simple Old Solutions for Type 2 Diabetes,” that is now available in stores and online. Hardcover, soft-cover and eBook versions are available. Clayton is currently penning a second book to be released in March 2014, which will contain more specifics on her method for controlling type 2 diabetes.
November is American Diabetes Month, and having her book and method spotlighted now is very timely, Clayton notes. She cautions that anyone who is at risk for diabetes should work with their doctor to come up with the best management plan for them. Over the past year or two, she said she has helped her brother and one of her co-workers, both of whom take insulin for type 2 diabetes, to lose weight, reduce the amount of insulin they need to take and to live healthier lives.
People at risk really need to educate themselves, Clayton said, adding that she is hoping her book will do just that.
In a recent interview with talk show host Steve Jorgenson on toginet.com, Clayton described how she turned her health around. She explained how her local doctor in Bamberg helped her understand her disease.
“He told me, ‘Everything you eat turns into sugar (glucose) so when you eat, you must eat the low glycemic foods that keep your sugar level at a slow burn all day long. Low glycemic foods are all vegetables and meats. Meat must be eaten without breading on it and without the skin on fried chicken, and to Southern girls, I know that hurts, but it’s a fact,’” Clayton recalled.
Clayton was told to lose the skin on her fried chicken and to watch out for baked chicken and broiled seafood that is swimming in butter. She was told to eat more vegetables and meat without sauces and to pass on the ketchup and mayonnaise. After reaching her A1C goal, she was encouraged to add fruit to her diet but to always eat the fruit by itself.
People need to realize exactly how serious diabetes is and that they need to do something about it, Clayton said. She urges others to eat real food and to lose the junk food that contributes to the disease.
“If your blood sugar is higher than 126, you need to make some adjustments to your life and eating habits, because every day this disease goes untreated, you are letting sugar run around in your blood stream, mix with grease, and it will cause you to have a heart attack.”
Clayton’s book is scheduled to be featured in Reader’s Digest and the New York Times Sunday Book Review.
Clayton can be reached at 803-267-2204 or at [email protected] For more information on her book, visit her website at http://www.simpleoldsolution.webs.com.
“S.O.S. — Simple Old Solutions for Type 2 Diabetes” can be found at Swift Book Store in the Five Rivers Market on Chestnut Street in Orangeburg. Clayton will sign copies of her book at Swift Book Store from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 9.
Contact the writer: 138 Nature’s Trail, Bamberg, SC 29003.