Diabetes Prevention classes turn ‘I hate you,’ into ‘I love this!’
Eddie Gulley was once an emotional eater, but found his way through Diabetes Prevention classes.
“I hate you. I don’t want to be here. And I’m not going to show you what I eat. Period.”
That’s what he said. That’s what Eddie told Lori Gibbons on his very first day of class at Virginia Mason Memorial’s Diabetes Prevention Program. Lori is the program’s facilitator, and she’s heard a lot over the years. Folks beginning their journey out of obesity, being out of shape and dangerously close to having diabetes are often fearful and intimidated. But she had never heard “I hate you.”
“Yeah,” says Eddie, age 61. “I did say that. But it was in a loving way.” It’s been eight months since Eddie met Lori on that first day of class. And in all that time, Eddie Gulley, who has weighed as much as 315 pounds, never missed a class in the year-long series. Not one.
Why? Because Virginia Mason Memorial’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a lot like group therapy. And group therapy works for Eddie.
“I had doctors tell me stuff over the years. Dr. Bocek hooked me up with the DPP classes. I’m thankful for that. Support groups have worked for me. At 57, I was like, I really don’t care. But at 61, I suddenly care.”
“I lost my job five years ago at Longview Fiber after 35 years and I lost my insurance. I didn’t go to doctors for quite some time. I weighed 315 when I left work. We lived out in the hills, though, and I walked those hills and got down to 252. But my wife has multiple sclerosis and then was diagnosed with breast cancer, so we moved into town to be closer to doctors. Then I got really depressed because we weren’t out in the country anymore.”
“I was an emotional eater. There are so many things in life that can throw you off: The first time I blew my back out at work, that screwed my head up. While waiting for surgery, I blew up to 270 pounds just sitting around drinking beer.”
“After the first surgery, they gave me a job as a janitor. It was a physical job, and I lost weight until another slip, trip or fall, and then it was surgery again.”
“Then our first-born son died of SIDS in March 1990.” After the death, the Gulleys were referred to Memorial’s SIDS support group. Eddie found comfort, a way to live on. The couple became group facilitators.
“Also, couple of years ago, I went to a psychologist who had a group for men who have had bad accidents and couldn’t work,” Eddie says. “We would meet once a week and talk about losing our jobs, our lifeline and our families. It helped me very much: Group therapy has really helped me. First, the SIDS group, then the men’s group and now Diabetes Prevention.
“I got into the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) when I went to see Dr. Nicola Bocek at Family Medicine of Yakima, a primary care practice of Virginia Mason Memorial. She said, ‘You know, you’ve had a second round of blood work and your A1C is out there. You need to change your way of eating.’ This wasn’t my first rodeo, he remembers. “I had doctors tell me stuff over the years. Dr. Bocek hooked me up with the DPP classes. I’m thankful for that. Support groups have worked for me. At 57, I was like, I really don’t care. But at 61, I suddenly care.”
“Soon after I filled out the paperwork for class, I was diagnosed with diabetes. I thought, I don’t want to die. It would take eight people to pack me into the casket!”
And now? Eddie eagerly shows Lori his food log.
“I tracked my food with the My Fitness Pal app. A month later, you look at what you ate and think: ‘Wow, why did I eat that?’ It’s teaching me a different way to eat. And it’s tracking my footsteps.”
“I feel much better mentally. When the weight began to fall off I thought, this is a much better way to live.”More Stories