Patient Stories

Changing The Diabetes Dialogue

Nov. 17, 2020

From sick and tired, to exuberant and energetic, Sara Archibald shares how she manages her type 2 diabetes.

Sara Archibald spent her life in a perpetual state of exhaustion, often coming home drained. The lack of energy affected her quality of life personally, as well as her roles as a wife and a mother.

Sick of feeling tired, Sara sought the opinion of Abid Yaqub, MD, UC Health medical director of Endocrinology at West Chester Hospital, and professor of endocrinology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.      

“When I met Sara about five years ago, she had the typical components of a patient with metabolic syndrome: obesity, hypertension, hypothyroidism, prediabetes, high cholesterol and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS),” says Dr. Yaqub. 

“Sara had a multinodular goiter which was causing compression symptoms, making it difficult for her to swallow and even to breathe normally,” says Dr. Yaqub. “I referred her to one of our thyroid surgeons and she underwent a total thyroidectomy.”

Despite controlling her thyroid levels with thyroid hormone replacement, Dr. Yaqub noted that Sara’s metabolic issues became worse; she was gaining weight, her blood pressure was rising, and her prediabetes progressed to Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Sara tried hard to work on lifestyle changes, but progress was not easily achieved. She had to be started on oral medications and then daily injectable therapy for her diabetes.

“Medication compliance is essential, but the maintenance of daily injections was difficult for Sara,” says Dr. Yaqub. “We switched her to a newly available therapeutic option, which could be injected only once a week instead of daily. She was also started on an oral diabetes pill which resulted in increased excretion of glucose through urine.”

The injections suppress appetite and also help the body dispose of glucose, which in turn lowers blood sugar and aids the ability to lose weight through lifestyle changes.

“Putting Sara on these medications made a dramatic improvement on her metabolic parameters—she lost weight, her BMI (body mass index) decreased, her blood sugars decreased significantly, and most importantly, she feels better,” Dr. Yaqub said. “She became more cheerful; I definitely noticed a positive difference in her personality as she progressed. Today, Sara looks like a different person, and I think things really turned around for her in a positive way.”

Sara’s energy levels were transformed, and her hard work at last began to show results. So far, she’s lost more than 50 pounds after the change in her mediation regime. She also exercised regularly and was eating healthier foods. And she’s not stopping any time soon.  

“Changing my medication isn’t a quick fix, and it’s not just going to hand me results—I had to implement lifestyle changes, and they’re long-term changes,” Sara said. “For example, our whole family has changed the types of food we eat, how much we eat and how often. We’re also more active, getting out of the house and doing more as a family.”

Right now, family activities involve attending softball practices and games, as Sara’s 15-year-old daughter prepares to try out for a high school team. 

“Sara’s case was a multi-modal, multi-pronged intervention of sorts. Now she’s meeting all the requirements in terms of managing her diabetes, up to date on every aspect of care, including eye exams,” Dr. Yaqub said. “Sara is an incredible example of being able to focus on multiple areas of the endocrine system and to achieve quality results.”

“Dr. Yaqub is one of the best doctors I’ve been to,” Sara said. “It’s not just that he cares about his patients, which he obviously does, but he also cares about his patients’ families. For example, my husband usually comes with me to my appointments. When I came alone along to my last appointment, Dr. Yaqub asked me about my husband and my daughter. It’s always nice when providers go that extra step further and genuinely care.” 

Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Prevented?

Most patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes have had it for some time before finding out. It’s preceded by prediabetes for many years before it progresses to Type 2.

Early intervention is key. Over the last 10 years, many groundbreaking clinical studies show that if you’re able to gain control of diabetes early on, you can make the most meaningful impact on the patient’s outcome.

If we are able to diagnose and effectively manage pre-diabetes and diabetes early on, patients are well-positioned to achieve significantly positive outcomes. When primary care providers encounter difficulty in achieving optimal glycemic control in their patients, referral to a diabetes specialist or an endocrinologist should be considered.

If you have any questions or need to set an appointment, please call us today, 513-475-7400.