"We've got plenty of patients who don't have a lot of education and income, but that doesn't have to stop them," she said. "Appalachian people in general are very capable. I have found that if I can get people the information, most will apply it, with whatever means they have."
"I recently saw a woman who was paying a neighbor $100 to drive her to Huntington to see a specialist who'd check her blood sugar, see her five minutes, maybe adjust her prescription, then tell her when to come back. She had had diabetes for 20 years, and in all that time, nobody'd ever talked with her about what she eats or how she could help herself with physical activity."
Hatfield taught her how to check her own blood sugar and manage her diet and increase her exercise. "Her blood sugar levels dropped enormously," Hatfield said. "She's so proud of herself. She had no idea she could do that."
"People are not born knowing the symptoms of diabetes, and they aren't born knowing how to control it," she said, "and it takes more than a 15-minute doctor visit to help them get a handle on all they need to know."
"There's a whole lot more to it than what I thought there'd be," Roberts said. Hatfield dished it out to him in small steps, he said. He learned what foods would keep him stable and how to lower his blood sugar by taking a walk, how to buy healthy foods on a budget.
"I stay on the move now, 24/7," he said. He eats better food and less food, he says. "I cook for myself. I take the skin off my chicken, and bake it instead of fry it. I make myself a lot of salads. I like salad and I put all kinds of stuff in them, vegetables, meat."
He lost more than 30 pounds, dropped from 271 to 240. By last fall, he had cut his A1C level down to 7. He quit drinking pop. He does yard work for others. "It's a lot of extra exercise," he said.
This month, his A1C is down to 5.1. He sees clearly. He is still losing pounds. "It's still a battle," he said in April, "but nothing like it was.
"I would tell anybody, the bottom line of it is: If you don't set it in your mind that you're going to get it under control, then it's not going to get better," he said. "It's up to you whether you do or you don't."
"I used to call Vicki every week, on Thursday," he said. "It really helped to have somebody to report in to," he said. "When I got discouraged, she kept me going." Now he checks in once a month.
"I wish I could have gotten to him earlier," Hatfield said. "And lots more like him."
A Matewan native, she keeps trying new ways to stamp out diabetes in her home county. Two years ago, she helped start a Mingo County diabetes coalition. Now they have a five-year grant for $50,000 a year through Marshall University to spread diabetes awareness and prevention through the county.
Hatfield now offers diabetes prevention classes. "People tell their neighbors what they learned. So it's spreading," she said.
The coalition plans to post symptoms of diabetes in store windows and telephone poles all over the county. "We want people to know they can catch it early. If we can get people to go after it like Everette has, our diabetes rate should drop."
Reach Kate Long at katel...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1798.
"The Shape We're In" was written with the help of the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism, administered by the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.