Overcoming the Odds: One Woman’s Quest to Get Back to Normal

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As a life coach and avid people-watcher, 57-year-old Orange County native Esther was always noticing changes in others but wasn’t taking enough time to consider the changes in her own body. “I just wasn’t paying attention to me. I was starting to feel fuller more quickly and knew I just didn’t feel right. But it took me awhile to see someone,” she said.

During pre-op to remove a benign mass, Esther’s surgeon was the first to notice there was something else going on. He found that her A1C level, which measures the glucose in a patient’s blood, was 13.6%, over 8% higher than normal – an indication she may have diabetes.

With more than 1.4 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes each year, the Mary and Dick Allen Diabetes Center at Hoag is a designated treatment center specializing exclusively in helping people suffering from diabetes. Patients receive the clinical, educational, and support services they need to better understand their conditions.

Esther’s physician assured her that Hoag’s team would help her come to resolution with the new diagnosis she was facing in the midst of still recovering from surgery.

“The genius of the Hoag team is that they knew to look into it further right away. They helped me deal with my tumor first and immediately referred me to an endocrinologist who was just awesome,” Esther said.

Dr. Amy Teresi, who Esther refers to as her “Endo-goddess”, spent three hours with her on the first visit. Dr. Teresi developed a plan of action to conquer Esther’s diagnosis in a way that suited her lifestyle. Esther wanted the distinction of living well with diabetes, not just living. Cooking and eating are large parts of her life, both culturally and for pleasure, and she didn’t want to eliminate them entirely.

With the help of Dr. Teresi and the Mary and Dick Allen Diabetes Center at Hoag, Esther began a nine-class educational program to efficiently learn how to manage her condition. As one of the largest diabetes education programs in California, Esther found a class that worked around her six-hour infusion treatments. The classes provided her with tips to successfully create a network of people and data to learn everything she could about diabetes.

Because of Hoag’s patient-centric, customized care and attention to Esther’s specific routine, she was quickly able to learn what foods and lifestyle choices worked for her. She found a healthy balance between eating for nourishment and eating for pleasure with family and friends.

“I want to be on the beach playing with my grandkids, I don’t want to be going to see doctors with my grandkids. It was important for me to find a healthy balance,” she explains.

Esther credits Hoag with helping her fight both diagnoses and never giving up hope.

“I received incredible, exceptional, compassionate care. My advice to others would be – keep going, keep searching. Seek out the experts, don’t settle for less, and the best is at Hoag.”