A Prediabetes Patient Success Story

Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. More than 1 in 3 American adults have prediabetes. Of those with prediabetes, more than 84% don't know they have it. Richard “Rick” Hatcher, a local Porterville resident, was among those who were unaware and did not learn he had prediabetes until he wound up in the Emergency Department.

Three years ago, on Memorial Day, Rick shattered his right hip and was told it would take at least three months of therapy to fully recover. During this time, he also learned that he had prediabetes and without proper treatment and lifestyle changes he knew he wouldn’t be able to prevent or delay the onset of serious complications from diabetes in addition to his heart condition.

While Rick was going through rehab for his shattered hip, his care team at a nearby hospital put him on a diabetic diet. “For the first time in years I was feeling great and waking up at 5 a.m., whereas before I was the type of person who hit snooze a few times before I got up in the morning, especially when I was heading to work,” Rick said. “The change in the way I was feeling as a result of what I was eating was an eye opening experience which gave me the motivation to stick with it as best I could.”

Rick tried to consciously eat better and stay active to help lower his sugar levels and maintain his energy, but it was not until he met with one of Sierra View’s Outpatient Clinical Dietitians, Melissa M. Williford, RD, LMNT, that he truly started to understand how to live a healthier life. Rich soon began attending diabetic classes at Sierra View’s Community Wellness Center regularly.

“Richard started classes with us in October of 2021, and he has made tremendous strides in his lifestyle and overall health,” Melissa M. Williford, RD, LMNT said. “I can tell he has more of a sense of pride, too, because he feels more in control and has even lost weight, which I know he’s proud of.”

“The diabetes classes led by a registered dietitian at Sierra View are impressive and very informative overall,” Rick said. Rick hopes that more community members will take advantage of them. As a result of participating, Rick now makes conscious decisions when he prepares his meals. For example, he now makes sure his plate is half full of veggies and he can more easily identify what hidden sugars are and what turns into sugar. Rick now substitutes water for sodas or other healthier options that actually satisfy his thirst. “As a butcher, I would choose the biggest and best cuts of meat, but now I look for lean meats and mostly grill everything.”

Rick’s lifestyle changes are a gradual process and the changes he has made are also helping with his congenital heart disease. The hope of being around for his family for years to come was more than enough motivation. “All of these things that have come along like shattering my hip and being told I had one year to live when diagnosed with congestive heart failure 14 years ago, are like life altering alarm clocks,” Rick explained.

Aside from the lifestyle changes he has made, Rick relates much of his diabetes success to his parents, who also had diabetes. “I didn’t understand at the time why we were going from fried everything to being introduced with healthier and better foods, but it really made an impact on me that together they made that change for themselves and our family.” In the same way, Rick realized he could make changes to improve his own health.

Rick wants to continue to be a role model for his own children and four grandchildren. He is proud to see his youngest go through college at CSU, Fresno and has promised her several times that he will be there for her. After many years as a butcher in Porterville, he is now retired and has started enjoying more of his love of fishing and spending time at the coast.

Rick made it far past the life expectancy some medical professionals predicted. He has healed from a shattered hip and for the first time in a long time, he feels good about himself. “I am becoming a better version of me and living for the future,” Rick said. “People need to know that diabetes of any kind is a serious disease, but it is controllable and preventable.”

Sierra View’s Community Wellness Center is accepting new patients. Outpatient Clinical Dietitian, Melissa M. Williford, RD, LMNT, is an expert at helping community members like Rick make lifestyle changes to help manage chronic conditions as well as reach health goals through personalized meal-planning, diabetes education, and other services. To learn more about the Nutritional & Physical Education Program (NEAP), visit sierra-view.com/communitywellness.