Diabetes Forecast

Got Questions? Diabetes EXPO Offers Healthy Answers

By Suzi Van Sickle ,

Jonathan Cottom says his doctor calls him "one of her healthiest patients." Since being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a child 31 years ago, Cottom has always made his health a top priority. Despite his overall success, though, he has struggled with one problem: low morning blood glucose that would often dip into the 30s.

So Cottom, 37, who works as a scheduler for an orthopedic surgery practice, decided to stop by the American Diabetes Association's Diabetes EXPO in Pittsburgh last September to hunt for solutions. At EXPO, he learned about how to use a continuous glucose monitor in conjunction with an insulin pump. "I knew about CGMs, but I didn't really understand what was involved," Cottom says. "Hearing about the features of the CGM and how it would change my life really blew my mind."

Cottom has been on the pump for 12 years, but at EXPO he found a lot of information about glucose monitoring technology and new devices that he knew little about.

And that's the idea. Diabetes EXPOs offer free services including evaluations of vision, bone density, foot, and dental problems. Visitors can talk with endocrinologists, diabetes educators, and other specialists. Cooking and exercise demonstrations encourage people with diabetes and family members to adopt new, healthier habits. Representatives of diabetes drugmakers and device manufacturers are on hand to provide information about their products.

"The EXPO is a place where people with diabetes or those at risk can learn about the disease and how to manage it successfully," says Michelle Knight, director of EXPO and rural health initiatives at ADA.

Cottom was among about 3,500 people who attended Pittsburgh's EXPO, one of 16 such events that ADA hosted around the country last year, drawing a total attendance of 84,000. Terri Seidman, associate director of Pittsburgh ADA, says that bringing in physicians, other health care providers, and vendors from the local community helps people with diabetes and their families "realize they are not alone, and that there are many resources at their disposal, even in their own hometown."

Cottom went to the Pittsburgh EXPO thinking he was quite well versed in diabetes and its complications. The disease had been responsible for the death of his father and an aunt, and on the job, he has seen many patients who come in for amputations because of neuropathy caused by diabetes. "I thought that I knew everything about diabetes care," he says, "but I learned so much just by attending the EXPO."

He has started using a CGM and says it has made a profound difference in his life. "The CGM is able to alert me when I go low or high before I begin to feel the effects," he says. "I can even graph my results on my computer and really take a hands-on approach to my health."

Cottom plans to stay up to date on everything there is to learn about taking the best possible care of his diabetes. "I will definitely be [coming] back to EXPO," he says, "for years to come."

Find an EXPO

EXPOs planned this year are for Chicago (April 10), Hartford, Conn. (April 17), Phoenix (April 24), Seattle (May 1), Los Angeles (May 15), San Antonio (June 26), and Minneapolis
(October 9). For locations and other event information, go to diabetes.org/expo.



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