Detective Will Vasquez assumed his first OurHealth appointment would be routine. His primary care provider had recently left practice and he needed to refill a prescription for hypertension, so he scheduled a medication consultation at MyClinic @ PNC in Indianapolis.
But during that initial visit, Vasquez, a 16-year veteran of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, says the clinic staff didn’t just hand him a prescription—they wanted to know why he was taking medication in the first place.
“I was impressed,” Vasquez says. “They didn’t just write a prescription and say, ‘we’ll see you later.’”
Vasquez told the clinic staff how he’d gained weight after a foot surgery a few years ago and had struggled to lose it. More importantly, he mentioned how a previous health screening had found he was at risk for diabetes.
Vasquez says the nurse decided to check his urine for sugar—a sign of diabetes, and when the test came back positive, she asked him to return to the clinic a few days later for a blood draw.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Vasquez says. “She sat me down after I did the blood draw and she said, ‘Well, you’ve got diabetes. Your A1c level is 8, which is in the diabetes range.’”
A hemoglobin A1c test correlates to a patient’s blood sugar over the previous 90 days. A reading above 6.5 indicates diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“It was real gut punch because I’ve got a family and three kids at home,” Vasquez says. “I need to be healthy to see them graduate high school and get married and all that good stuff. That was a big reality check for me.”
While the news was disappointing, the nurse told Vasquez he could turn things around by making healthy lifestyle changes, and Vasquez says he was up for the challenge.
Getting Back on Track
Together, they quickly put an action plan in place, including updating his hypertension medication, and setting up regular meetings with Lauren Hutchens, senior wellness program manager for OurHealth, and Joanne Lewis, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), which were all included at no cost to Vasquez as a part of his employer’s OurHealth benefits.
“That helped me out—having the support system,” Vasquez says. “But the main driver was my family and wanting to be around for them for a lot longer.”
Hutchens and Lewis worked closely with Vasquez to improve his diet. “We explored what he had done in the past, what he was currently doing, and what his ultimate goals were for his health,” Hutchens says. “It was obvious from the beginning how much Det. Vasquez cared about his family and really wanted to get healthier.”
Vasquez says he cut out fast food, and when he did eat out, he’d check the restaurant’s menu in advance so he could make a healthy selection—and stick with it. He also started reading food labels, limited snacking to only fruit between meals, and found healthier substitutions for foods he loved, such as swapping in PopChips for regular potato chips. “They really opened my eyes on proper things to eat,” Vasquez says. I really took that stuff to heart.”
Vasquez also started exercising regularly, but admits it wasn’t always easy. “Sometimes I had to talk myself into exercising when I didn’t want to,” he says. To get more exercise while working a part-time security job, Vasquez started patrolling the grounds on foot instead of sitting idle in his squad car.
Vasquez says the hard work ultimately paid off. In a little more than 90 days, he reduced his blood pressure, and saw his A1c decrease from 8 to 5.5, which is considered a normal healthy measure. As an added bonus, he also lost more than 35 pounds.
“I feel a whole lot better,” Vasquez says. “It’s a lot easier for me to get up and go do something where as before I was always physically drained and didn’t want to do anything. The only drawback is that I’ve had to buy smaller pants.”