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Paul Cimino

Type 2 Diabetes Success Story

type-two-diabetes-success
         Paul Cimino                                      Michael Thompson, MD

Paul Cimino was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in his mid-20s. Over the past 30 years, he’s been unable to consistently control his blood sugars despite seeing multiple practitioners offering varying approaches to control. In December 2019, Paul met for the first time with Dr. Michael Thompson at the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence (DCOE). Six months later (June 2020) his A1c had dropped from above 14% to an astounding 5.6%.

“Over the years I’ve seen so many doctors and providers throughout Massachusetts who prescribed seemingly every combination of oral medications and insulin,” said Paul. “Nothing worked for me. The best A1c that I can remember before this was just under 10%. My daily readings were routinely in the 400s.  I hate to admit it, but I gave up.”

Years of uncontrolled and often dangerously high blood sugars caused severe heart problems for Paul. Unfortunately, that’s one of the many serious health complications that uncontrolled diabetes often leads to.     

Paul eventually confided in a family friend who recommended he meet with Dr. Thompson. “She and her son both receive their diabetes care from him, and she couldn’t speak more highly of him.  I knew from my first visit he was different,” Paul said. “He spent a long time with me in that exam room. He listened to my difficult history and understood my treatment and compliance challenges. When he told me we could fix this together, frankly I didn’t believe him.”

Paul appreciates how Dr. Thompson includes him in the treatment plan decision-making process, instead of simply sending him home with a to-do list. “He works with me to customize my care, because there’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all solution.”

Dr. Thompson suggested Paul try insulin pump therapy to control his blood sugars, in combination with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). He had used a CGM before, “but it only gave me bad news - and no doctor had ever suggested a pump before,” Paul said. “I was unsure because it seemed like such a daunting commitment. But suddenly I not only knew what my blood sugars were at any given time thanks to the CGM - I was also able to achieve much better control by the automated insulin delivery through the pump. The technology itself is life changing and I no longer take any oral meds!”

Paul’s care team includes diabetes educator Susan Miller. “Sue’s been so helpful,” he said. “She’s very knowledgeable about the technology and took the time and patience to explain it to me, so I understood exactly how the pump manages my blood sugars.”

Afterwards, they did some virtual telehealth visits together, to adjust settings as needed. “If Sue isn’t available, another diabetes educator has been able to help me.”

Paul’s UMass DCOE care team is extremely pleased with the results he’s achieved, and with his willingness to do his part. “Once someone leaves our clinic, it’s up to them to put in the work everyday to manage their diabetes,” said Dr. Thompson. “Paul can be an example and provide inspiration to others who feel like they can’t succeed.”

With his blood sugars finally in a healthy range, Paul feels better both physically and mentally. “Those of us living with diabetes know managing it every day is mentally draining,” he said. “But to be honest, I didn’t always feel that doctors quite understood how bad it can be - especially when you’re not seeing improved results.”

Paul’s diabetes education sessions included label reading and carbohydrate counting so he can input accurate data into his pump. He also pays attention to portion control and makes the effort to eat healthier, including whole grains, plenty of fish and plant‑based foods. “I still cheat from time to time, but I’m conscious about it and can depend on the pump to provide the proper amount of insulin.”

Paul utilizes various services available at the UMass DCOE. “The specialty pharmacy offered at UMass Memorial has been helpful and convenient,” he said. “They return calls right away and answer my questions.” He also signed up for myChart to communicate with his care team between appointments, and will use it to share his insulin pump and CGM data with them prior to future visits. “It’s great for accessing my lab results, and easy to do all this from my phone or computer.”

“I'm so fortunate and grateful to have been introduced to the UMass DCOE care team,” Paul said. “It's by far the most effective diabetes treatment I’ve received in 30 years. It’s crazy that I used to mentally “celebrate” whenever a glucose check was under 400; now I’m annoyed when it’s over 110. It’s an amazing feeling after all this time!”

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