Diabetic amputee hoping to inspire Coach Parker & others - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Diabetic amputee hoping to inspire Coach Parker & others

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Diabetes affects more than 23 million Americans, with nearly 2 million new cases being diagnosed each year.  The effects of the disease are known all too well to Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker.  

Parker had to have his right foot amputated because of complications with diabetes.  It's a procedure that thousands of Americans undergo each year as a result of the disease.  But after surgery, people can still live a normal life.  Here's the proof in the story of one area woman.

Kim Endelman has been living with diabetes for three decades, spending the last four years in a wheelchair.  The disease became so debilitating that she required multiple surgeries, leading up to the recent amputation of her left foot.

"That I'm up and about, just like that-- I'm just so excited about it.  And the only time I cried about the amputation was when Matt, who helps me with my leg, told me I would not have matching shoes!" Endelman said.

Now she's been fitted with a prosthesis and is getting around pretty good with just a cane.  Endelman's struggle is not unique.  The American Diabetes Association says that each year, more than 70,000 people with diabetes require lower limb amputation.

"One of the problems with diabetes is if you have an ulcer in your foot, and if you don't take care of it, it progresses over time.  You look at gangrene.  You look at amputations, and it's just a downhill spiral," said Dr. Hetal Patel with Wheaton-Franciscan Healthcare.

Once a patient's diabetes progresses far enough that surgeries are required, intensive physical therapy follows.

"We get them up, get them moving and work on getting them in the wheelchair, getting them to be independent at least from wheelchair level.  We look at strengthening muscles. If they're a prosthetic candidate, we work on muscles they'll need for a prosthesis," said Emily Mullen, Wheaton-Franciscan physical therapist.

And soon, patients discover that an amputation isn't the end.  In fact, for Kim Endelman, she says it's just the opposite.

"I'm not a quitter, but I just can't believe I've gone so far.  And now, I'm like ‘What's the next step?  What's the next step?'  I'm so excited to do something more," Endelman said.

Part of that means sharing her story, and hoping it's a little inspiration for others, like Coach Parker, who are going through this life-changing experience.

Doctors say that the obesity epidemic is leading to a steadily increasing rate of diabetes.  (However, Endelman was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at a young age).  The best way to prevent the disease is to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercising.  But if you do get diabetes, it's important to keep up with regular health screenings to prevent more extreme risks of the disease which can include amputations, along with heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and even death.

Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz says he expects Norm Parker to eventually return to the sidelines.

Additional Notes:

Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare offers a free support group for all persons with diabetes and their family members. Staff from nurse on-call and the "Nutrition and Diabetes Education Center" lead the group.  Various health care professionals from the area are invited as guest speakers. The meetings are on the following days and locations:  

  • Second Tuesday of each month at 1:00 p.m. in Board Room at the Kimball Ridge Center, 2101 Kimball Avenue, Waterloo, Iowa.
  • Fourth Wednesday of each month at 1:00 p.m. in the Foundation Conference Room at Sartori Memorial Hospital,
    515 College Street, Cedar Falls, Iowa.
  • One Friday each month at 9:30-10:30 a.m. in the Oelwein Public Library. (Which specific Friday is determined monthly, call Nurse on Call at 272-2600 to find out)

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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