The 81-year-old Lowery, retired head of the Cle Elum Ranger District, never figured on being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
"I felt fine. I had no idea," he says, admitting he was shocked when he got the word during a routine exam. At first, he didn't take his condition seriously. Another visit with the same doctor drew pointed advice to address his diabetes. Then came a visit to an eye doctor who "scolded" Lowery - and got his full attention - when he told him he'd developed glaucoma due to his diabetes.
For a while, Lowery managed his diabetes with oral medication. In early 2012, he began insulin injections.
Credit Pam Dick, director of KVH Hospital's Diabetes Education Program, for teaching Lowery the ABCs of living with diabetes. Besides doing individual appointments with patients living with diabetes, Dick also teaches two classes, Diabetes and Diet, and Meters, Meds and More.
Lowery, hungry for information, took advantage of everything. It was also Dick who taught him how to do his injections. "I rely on her as much as I do the doctor," says Lowery who actively tracks his blood sugar and meets monthly with Dick to go over his charts. "I think Pam knows as much as anybody about diabetes and how to live with it. What she says just makes sense. I trust her completely."
Lowery is a patient who "likes becoming educated and likes consistent feedback on how things are going," Dick says. Diet, exercise and rate of obesity are key factors in developing type 2 diabetes. They're also keys to managing it, she says. "We want people to self-manage their diabetes. It's a day-in, day-out disease so we're trying to give them tools to figure out how their medication works along with exercise and diet in controlling their blood sugar."
Just how prevalent is diabetes? In 2011, the Center for Disease Control estimated 26 million Americans were diabetic and 78 million were diagnosed as prediabetic (with blood sugar that is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetic). That's up from a 2008 CDS estimate that 57 million people were prediabetic. To put it another way, more than a third of adults in this country are estimated to be prediabetic, according to the CDC.
Dick says while statistics suggest that over half of those diagnosed as prediabetic won't develop the disease, it's still a marked increase.
KVH Hospital's Diabetes Education Program classes, both one-hour sessions, are offered at KVH Family Medicine - Cle Elum and at KVH Hospital. Cost is $55 for Diet and Diabetes and $76 for Meters, Meds and More. Medicare typically pays for diabetes education classes, something that many people don't realize, she says.
Lowery advises others with diabetes not get discouraged. "Listen to your doctor. Take your medication. Keep your diabetes under control," he says. "If you do that, diabetes isn't something to fear. It doesn't have to be the end of the world."