How a former professional football player got his type 2 diabetes under control

Welkin Health’s case management platform for chronic illness is especially appropriate for patients with diabetes. Diabetes can be managed effectively through a combination of efforts – regular and appropriate doctor’s visits, medication and daily monitoring of blood sugar, healthy eating and exercise.

Welkin’s platform works by matching a certified diabetes educator, the case manager, with a patient with diabetes. The case manager and patient can communicate by phone, text or the smartphone companion app. Together, the case manager and the patient monitor the patient’s blood sugar readings, talk about what the patient is eating, their general health and lifestyle and give feedback and suggestions for staying on the right track.

Recently, we interviewed a patient who started with Welkin, started seeing his physician again and got his type 2 diabetes well under control.

Welkin Health: We’d love to ask you a few questions and hear a little more about your story. I heard about your amazing transition from Sara, your coach. What would you say was the tipping point for you? What made you decide to try to take better care of yourself and get your diabetes under control?

TC: I used to play football professionally, including two years over in Europe, and I was living in Switzerland and Germany. I started right out of college, my playing weight was always 235 and I was 6’1. I was always in shape, but I had played football for 13 years consecutively and I always had a guy with a whistle behind me. And when I retired, I immediately gained a bunch of weight, and that’s when I developed type 2 diabetes.

Initially I didn’t really know anything about it and I really didn’t care. I went to the doctor and he said your blood sugar is through the roof. And then I developed neuropathy in my feet. I lived that way for about 6, or 7 years. That’s when my sister told me about Welkin, and she said, “you really need to take better care of yourself.” When I first started recording my sugars, they were very high, and my coach was giving me tips to bring them down, saying this is what you can do, you should eat this, you shouldn’t eat that.

Once I started paying attention to my health, I decided to go back to my doctor. And I said look, I’d really like to get started on a program to to lower my sugars. My doctor put me on medication, my sugars have gone from 200 and 300 to the low 100s, sometimes even below 100. And by monitoring it every day, one of the benefits of Welkin is that even when my sugars are high, I still send them in. Sara will get on me a little bit, you know, “What did you have to eat for dinner last night?” and it helps me really maintain my blood sugars.

Welkin Health: What made you take Welkin seriously? There had to be a certain level of trust that you were putting into an app that you downloaded.

TC: Yeah. I’ll tell you what made me take it seriously – it was the fact that Sara took it seriously. When I sent in my sugars, she said, “Look, your sugars are still high, this is what can happen to you if they remain high. And if you eat this, your sugars are going to go up. Or if you eat this, they’ll probably go down.” She just gave me a ton of advice, and since I had to report to somebody every day, it made me conscious of what my sugars were. I lived for so long without even caring, I didn’t know the damage that it can do. I finally decided to take better care of myself. And Welkin really helped me do that.

Welkin Health: Was there anything that you think we could have done better?

TC: Actually no. It’s the perfect app for me. Because I have a contact on the other side of the app that I know actually cares about what I’m doing. She doesn’t just say, “What are your sugars?” and “Here’s what you’re doing wrong”. She also says things like, “I know you have a doctor’s appointment coming up, let me know how it goes”. Things like that. And it’s that personal touch that shows she really cares about what’s going on with me. That makes me want to report to her, and tell her how I’m doing. And when my sugars are really low and I turn them in, I’m proud of that. And I’m proud of it because I want to show her how good I’m doing. That’s the positive – I don’t really know of anything negative.

Welkin Health: One last question – just looking through your history, it sounds like you’re recording a ton of data on a regular basis. What has it been like to incorporate Welkin into your regular life?

TC: It’s just kind of automatic now. First thing I do when I wake up is check my sugar, and take a picture of that and send it in. That’s just what I do every morning. It’s on your phone that you have with you 24 hours a day, and you can take a picture, take a picture of your blood sugars – it’s just routine. It’s not cumbersome, or doesn’t bother me, or anything, it’s just something I do. And before I eat dinner now, I’ll be like, I can’t eat that, my sugars will be up in the morning and I am going to send them to Sara and she’s going to say something bad. So I’ll think about what I eat. And it’s been great. And when Sara says something, it’s not like she’s getting on me, she’s just helping me. But it’s a real personal touch. It’s not like me talking to a computer. She’s made it really personal so it helps me out quite a bit.

Welkin Health: Totally. It’s great to hear, and I know she’s really proud of you!

(Interview edited for brevity and clarity)