"First Steps"

By Asha Alex |  May 29, 2017

First Steps
Louis* didn’t know that there was a health center in the New Life Fellowship Church building. He had just planned to stop by the food pantry to quickly pick up some food on that chilly morning. It was 10 am but the entrance to the church was already bustling with people. Dedicated volunteers were helping out with the food pantry while others were organizing bundles of clothes for the clothing pantry. Residents of the community had either lined up or taken seats in the shell room waiting for their turn to utilize those resources. Bundled up in a puffy gray jacket, Louis joined the rest of the group.
Amidst all of this, a few volunteer students from the St. John’s School of Pharmacy and I were setting up to do a health education talk on diabetes. After hearing an announcement that there would be a health talk, Louis followed a group of men into the yellow room. He sat attentively listening to all the facts and information that was presented. Being newly diagnosed as a diabetic, this was a topic that he wanted to learn more about and one that he knew he needed help with. He asked a few questions and then stayed after to speak with me.  
With a hesitant smile, Louis explained that he had multiple health issues, including at least two different infectious diseases, hypertension and organ failure. Diabetes was just one on a list of diagnoses that he was dealing with. His primary care doctor had prescribed him medications to control his sugar levels. He was told that he was at a “10” when he was supposed to be at an “8.” I asked him if he knew what those numbers meant and he responded that all he knows is that “10 is bad”. He was referring to his HbA1C, a measure of his blood glucose levels over 3 months of time. So I brought over a pamphlet with a diagram, which explained what the numbers meant. After discussing his current blood glucose levels and eating habits, we spoke about ways that he could incorporate exercise into his daily routine, and how to choose healthier food options to help lose weight and improve his numbers. “I love French fries, but I’m working on that, “ he said with a grin on his face. He knew that he had to make some major changes to get his health on track. From the questions he was asking, it was clear that he wanted to work towards a better state of health and I found myself rooting for him.  He thanked me repeatedly for answering all of his questions. I made sure that he knew he was always welcome to come to the health center if he had any other concerns.
Just as he got up to leave, I felt a nudge in my heart to ask him one last question: “Louis, would you like for me to pray with you?” His eyes widened as he exclaimed, “Yes! Please!!” and put out his hands for me to hold. We both closed our eyes as I prayed for his health and for God to help him through the struggles he was facing. I could feel him tightly grasp my hands. When we were done, I looked up to see that his eyes were filled with tears. There was no doubt in my mind that God was working in that moment. And in the simplest and smallest of ways, I was able to join in the great work that He was doing in Louis’ life.  
Louis came in two weeks later with a list of all the medications he was taking, a written log of the foods he was eating, and the times during the day that he ate those meals. He told me that he started exercising at least 15 minutes every day and is going to keep going as best as he could. His follow-up appointment with his endocrinologist was scheduled to be in a few weeks. There was a look of determination on his face; he had successfully taken the first steps to improve his health.
3 month update: After visiting his endocrinologist, Louis came back to visit us. He told us that he had gotten his HbA1C from a 10 down to 8.5! Please keep him in your prayers. 

* Name has been changed to protect patient identity