For CCPGM employee and former patient Frankie King, her lifelong journey is all about self-management.
By Christopher Sardelli
Staying healthy isn’t just a simple mantra Frankie King uses with her patients, but a personal goal she carries on her lifelong journey of self-management.
As a patient advocate for CCPGM, King spends her days interacting with patients who have recently been admitted to the hospital for a variety of medical conditions.
“I love pulling the ED (emergency department) list and I love cold calling patients because people don’t know CCPGM is out here and what we can do. I like telling people how we help and I like to help boost the case manager load here,” King said.
It was only a few years ago, though, when King found herself on the other end of that conversation, as a patient at Cotswold Family Medicine. That’s when she began her journey with CCPGM Nurse Care Manager Paula Lowther, who ended up playing an instrumental part in King’s road to recovery.
“At that point I was a very sick woman. I didn’t even know how sick I really was,” King said.
At the time, King suffered from depression and congestive heart failure, weighed almost 400 pounds, had high blood pressure and also had a high A1C of 13.9. Coupled with the back-to-back deaths of her father and brother a few years earlier, King said her life was on a downward spiral.
“I was gaining weight all this time and not moving much, which was causing my illness. I came down with diabetes, but I was driving trucks at that time and had to come off the road since I was on insulin. Later, I lost my job,” she said. “From there I went into daycare work and was an after school teacher. I got so big that I couldn’t interact with the kids or get on the floor, so I got fired. Then I lost my medical coverage.”
Her health and depression worsened to the point she became a self-confined prisoner in her own home.
“At that time I was never coming out of my house and I was never out of bed. My grandson said ‘grandma you have to get up and get better. I love you,’” she said.
It was around that time she first met Lowther.
“I would see her at Cotswold all the time and would wonder ‘how does she always know when I have a doctor appointment?’ She never gave up on me. When she gave me her cell phone number, it let me know she cared. So, I called Paula and started doing what I could do,” King said.
Committing to a strict diet and a dedicated walking program, King was able to shed 88 pounds within the first six months after meeting Lowther.
“I cut out everything. I would eat lettuce, a boiled egg, low sodium turkey and an organic protein shake. I had to be dedicated. I’m still dedicated,” she said. “Before I met Paula I was on 28 different pills a month. Now I only take two kidney pills, two blood pressure pills and something for my cholesterol.”
Her quick success eventually caught the attention of CCPGM’s leadership team.
“After seeing my health turn around, Paula looked at me one day and said ‘I’ve got something planned for you.’ One day she says ‘we want you to come and speak at our staff meeting.’ So, I came and spoke and told my story. Two weeks later she said ‘Anita (Schambach) wants to meet you,’” she said. “They offered me a part-time job for three hours a day and all the training I needed. Eventually, after my disability benefits stopped, they agreed to take me on full time and I’ve been here ever since.
“I wouldn’t be sitting here and I’d probably be dead without CCPGM. I tell people don’t go down the road I went down. I tell my pre-diabetes patients you can prevent it now. Your doctor can only do so much. You need to want it,” she said.
She continues to find success at CCPGM. On July 14, she earned her peer educator certificate from the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP).
Lowther marvels at King’s ability to overcome obstacles while maintaining a positive attitude.
“Frankie is a joy to be around. She is still a resilient, grounded woman, but I have seen more confidence emerge since beginning her journey with Community Care Partners,” Lowther said. “Having overcome multiple health obstacles to get where she is today has fed her self-assurance and continues to drive her in her own health management, as well as that of her clients. She is a champion.”
Though she’s overcome so many obstacles, King’s journey is far from over. As part of her efforts to keep her weight off, King has enlisted the help of CCPGM’s health educator, Janet Ann McAndrews.
“Janet Ann has been fantastic. There’s nothing I can’t bring to her and get her opinion. She wanted me to get a note from my kidney doctor about how much protein and other nutrients I could have. She uses that and helps me find better food options,” King said. “She’s always giving me suggestions. Recently, she turned me on to bone broth. You put onion and celery and carrots in it and then you strain it. You get all the nutrients you need. I drink it in the morning and before bed, and now my bones don’t hurt as bad. She is a very intelligent lady.”
McAndrews has nothing but praise of her own for King’s outlook on life.
“Frankie is a living testimony of overcoming life-threatening hardship to the betterment of her body, soul, mind and spirit,” McAndrews said. “All those who hear her victorious testimony are inspired and challenged to join her on the journey of wellness, and to reach out and empower others to join the journey.”
King reflects on her journey so far and the advice she imparts on her patients.
“The thing I tell my patients, and the reason I love my job, is no one can live your life but you. You have people in your life who can assist, but you need to make it happen. I tell my daughter the same thing. You’ve got to want it,” King said.