SHERIDAN — It’s a fit much like putting on your favorite pair of well-broken in boots: managing your own diabetes or pre-diabetes.

What does it mean to cowboy up in managing your diabetes? According to one definition, to cowboy up is to keep going when the going is tough. But it does not mean going it alone. So how does this apply to diabetes?

Diabetes left unmanaged can lead to complications such as eye, foot, kidney and nerve damage. Diabetes increases the chance of heart attack or stroke, skin conditions or hearing impairment.  The Mayo Clinic also cites a connection between poorer blood sugar control and the risk of increased Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia.  Gestational diabetes could lead to excess growth and low blood sugar in babies and to type 2 diabetes later in life. An extreme complication of diabetes is death.

But the model for managing diabetes is changing. The traditional medical model for diabetes management rested in the hands of physicians.  While a visit to your health care provider works well for acute conditions — such as a rapid onset of symptoms such as pneumonia or flu — this model falls short in dealing with chronic ongoing and long-developing conditions such as diabetes.

Patients living with diabetes are critical to managing their condition. Those with diabetes, pre-diabetes or caring for someone with diabetes have a new resource in Sheridan to learn how to become actively involved in their diabetes management.  Introduce: Diabetes Education and Empowerment Program or DEEP.

“DEEP is to help people learn about diabetes, how it affects their life and how to manage their diabetes,” said Kathie Schonenbach.

Schonenbach is a registered nurse with Sheridan Public Health and will be one of the three facilitators for the DEEP six-week program. Schonenbach stepped forward to volunteer to facilitate DEEP courses in Sheridan bringing her 25-years of experience to the program.

There is more to diabetes management than taking insulin and listening to your physician. Studies prove that the successful management program takes into account other factors such as medications, complications, behavioral changes, emotional reactions, lifestyles, culture and choices.

“There’s an element of self-management and many people don’t realize it,” said Glen Revere, a diabetes self-management educator with Mountain-Pacific Quality Health.

Revere completed teaching a 20-hour training program for Sheridan’s DEEP team. The team plans to launch the course for the community on Feb. 10.

DEEP is being offered throughout Wyoming through a collaborative partnership between the Wyoming Department of Health Aging Division and Wyoming communities.  There is no charge to participants. The Aging Division has contracted with Casper-based Mountain-Pacific Quality Health to train community volunteers and to provide technical support to the program throughout Wyoming.

“At this time we have 25 facilitators trained throughout the state,” said Revere. “We plan to have 35 facilitators trained in Wyoming communities by this spring.”

According to Dr. Joe Grandpree with the Wyoming Department of Health, in 2013 Wyoming hospitals reported the cost of diabetes as a primary or secondary diagnoses exceeded $232 million. This value does not include the cost of outpatient services, medications, time lost from work or other incidental costs associated with the disease.

In Sheridan County, the most recent data indicates that approximately 2,600 residents suffer from diabetes.

“The objective of the DEEP is to create awareness of diabetes and the importance of self-care in managing it,” said Revere.

Self-management is not designed to replace but to enhance the relationship with one’s health care professional.

“We hope this (DEEP course) will strengthen their (the attendees’) relationship with their medical professionals and that they are not just seeing them once a year,” said Schonenbach.

“This is not just another PowerPoint presentation,” said Schonenbach. “It’s not a lecture, it’s participatory.”

Schonenbach is joined by her colleague, Dominique Pereira, a registered nurse at Sheridan County Public Health and Ramona Stein, a community volunteer.

The diabetes self-management courses will be offered weekly on Wednesday mornings from 9-11 a.m. for six weeks at the Sheridan Senior Center.  Space is limited so advance sign-up is required. There is some registration paperwork prior to the first class. Registration forms for the course are available at the front desk of the Senior Center at 211 Smith St.