Beyond the Card: After Health Scare, Kalamazoo Man Urges Everyone to See Their Doctor
Unless he needed stitches, Dave Musall didn’t really see the point of regular doctor visits.
“I considered myself to be pretty healthy and just thought going to the doctor was a waste of time unless there was something wrong with you,” he said.
Severe indigestion, aches and flu-like symptoms brought him to the emergency room, but the diagnosis he walked out with forever changed his mind about the importance of preventive care.
At 51, Musall was shocked to learn that he was actually having a heart attack. After he had four stents put in to open his arteries, he then found out that he also had Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease.
“That’s where my whole story begins,” he said.
Although he followed his doctor’s orders, his condition was deteriorating before he enrolled in the PATH program offered through Kalamazoo County in the fall of 2016 at the age of 65. His doctor had added insulin to the medication he was already taking and Musall was looking for a way to get back on track and get his disease under control.
The PATH program is a six-week course developed by Stanford University. It’s open to diabetics and those with loved ones who are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Classes focus on managing blood sugar levels, creating a realistic action plan, managing your health, exercise and healthy eating. Kalamazoo County wellness coordinator Chelsie Hubbarth runs the program for the county and worked with Musall.
“Dave had me really excited from the beginning,” she said. “He was eager to start the program, he showed up and participated at all six workshops, he completed his action plans each week, asked questions and shared his story with other participants. Of course, the most exciting part for me was that he learned tools and techniques to support him as a person with diabetes and he has been able to get off medication.”
Hubbarth is even hoping to get Musall and his wife, Patty, certified to become program leaders. On his own, Musall is reading labels and has traded in a nightly pretzel and chip habit for cut-up cauliflower, carrots and celery. When cravings hit, he’ll eat a small portion instead of overindulging.
“I learned more than I ever knew about the carbs and the sugar and it was a real eye opener for me,” he said.
Since going through the program and making healthy changes, Musall is off his medication and only needs insulin to control his diabetes. Now, he’s on a mission to tell anyone who will listen to make yearly doctor visits a priority.
“Any time the subject comes up, I will get on people about how important it is to see the doctor or they’re going to end up in the shape I’m in now,” he said. “If I would have gone to the doctor 30 years ago, I might not be as bad off as I am now.”
“If I could get to one person, just get through to one person how important it is to see your doctor annually and catch it before it gets to the point that mine was, then I feel good,” he said.
Hubbarth will be sharing Musall’s story with county employees through a video he made. She’s working to create a culture of “knowing your numbers” and taking responsibility for your health.
“This video will be played at as many department presentations as I can this year,” she said. “I believe that as the program grows and we engage employees through other classes, programs, workshops and coaching, we will be able to create a personal relationship with individuals so we can address this from a personal viewpoint that is applicable to the individual.”
Hubbarth said support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan helps her expand wellness efforts for county employees. Through data management efforts, Hubbarth said she’s able to analyze the overall health picture of employees and look at trends or areas that need attention for the upcoming year. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan wellness coordinator Liz Lambers is also on-site at Kalamazoo County offices, providing additional support.
“She adds more variety of classes and services for our employees that help fill in the gaps that we weren’t already offering,” Hubbarth said.
“Since partnering with Blue Cross, Kalamazoo County has really expanded in the classes that they offer to the employees, especially in the exercise realm,” Lambers said. “I currently teach many of the exercise classes and offer one-on-one fitness coaching. It’s so great to see that the wellness program is able to change the lives of the employees and Dave’s story is proof of that.”
This post is part of a storytelling series we call, “Beyond the Card.” These stories will feature Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members, employees, and communities who are making meaningful differences throughout our state.
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Photo credit: dreamingofariz