Making Strides to Good Health

Walking an average of 12 to 18 miles a day, sometimes reaching as high as 25 miles, it appears as if Mountain View native Michael Thompson is attempting to break a world record. But he’s not striving to break any records; he is simply walking to keep his Type 2 diabetes under control.  

Diabetes is a chronic illness that is caused by high levels of sugar in the blood. This can ultimately lead to more serious consequences such as high blood pressure, amputation, or even death. 

Thompson, known as Mikey to his friends, was diagnosed in March of 2012. “I knew it was coming. Diabetes is rampant in my family, so I was almost expecting it,” he said. “I’m just glad to have support.”

Lucky for him, he had more than a few people ready to fight his battle with him. His family physician, Dr. Ron Simpson, referred him to the Stone County Medical Center (SCMC) Diabetes Education Program. The Diabetes Program at SCMC is an educational program designed to help people with diabetes improve their quality of life by teaching them how to eat healthier and exercise. Diabetic Educator Dawnette Anderson works with participants in group and one-on-one sessions to help them develop an effective treatment plan. The programs Data Specialist, Crystal Nesseth, works behind the scenes to track patient data throughout the program.

In May, the group began a pedometer project thanks to the Small Healthcare Provider Quality Improvement Grant from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Science and statistics have proven that exercise is an effective way to help keep blood sugar under control and avoid further complications of diabetes. The pedometer, which tracks each step taken, encourages participants to walk and helps them achieve personal walking goals.

 “Each one of us had a goal to reach, but I saw mine as a challenge and was constantly trying to out-do myself,” said Thompson. 

Thompson’s determination led to a new found love for walking that resulted in a final count of nearly 3.4 million steps when the program had concluded. For Thompson, getting the most steps was just a small milestone compared to the changes he had made in his health.

Since he began walking, Thompson has reversed the effects of his diabetes so that his blood sugar levels and A1c numbers match those of a non-diabetic. He has also lost 100 pounds and reduced his blood pressure, hypertension, and resolved his neuropathy, which is the damage to the nerves caused by diabetes that can lead to more severe complications.

“We are so proud of Thompson’s dedication,” said Dawnette Anderson. “We are proud of all of our participants’ dedication. They have all experienced very positive health changes as a result of walking, such as an increase in energy levels, weight loss, and lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Thompson’s daily routine involves waking up at 4am and walking up and down his driveway. In bad weather, he walks up and down his hallway, which, he says, drives his wife “up the wall.”

Even so, his wife and entire family support him. “I’ve kind of gotten several members of my family into walking,” he said.  He doesn’t credit his improved health solely to his exercising, though. “At the Diabetes Program, Dawnette and Crystal stress good eating and exercise habits,” he said. “I take their advice about what I eat. I keep it under 200 carbohydrates a day.”

“Without them, I wouldn’t have started any of this,” he adds. Each day, Thompson continues to walk down the road to better health. 

For more information about the Diabetes Education Program, contact Dawnette Anderson at (870) 262-5045.