Published on December 17, 2019

Personalized Care and Support Helped Her Get Back in Shape

Photo of Kristen Fowler - orthopedic, rehabilitaiton patient at MidMichigan Health.

Thanks to Kristin Fowler’s care team at MidMichigan Health, she is looking forward to her newfound strength and vitality to enjoy life again.

Overcoming medical problems through lifestyle changes requires hard work, willpower, and an understanding of the issues at hand. Kristin Fowler knows firsthand that skilled and personalized support from a dedicated health care team can make all the difference in the world.

Like so many these days, Fowler was feeling the effects of a hectic life. The 53-year-old is the mother of two teenage boys, both very active soccer players. “They keep me on my toes,” she said. Her husband, a commercial semi-truck driver, is frequently out on the road. Between everybody’s packed schedules, Fowler worked hard to make sure her family was well taken care, but didn’t have much time to focus on her own health.

Gradually, problems started creeping up. Arthritis in her right knee began causing pain, and she became borderline diabetic. Both issues were made worse by the extra weight that she had been putting on. “I’ve never been a person who was very overweight,” she said. “But I tended to eat my feelings. Food became my comfort.”

As her conditions worsened, Fowler sought a provider close to home. She chose MidMichigan Family Medicine Provider Kristin Johnson, P.A.-C., as her primary care provider. “Kristin was knowledgeable and willing to work with me on my personal health goals and had a flexible schedule which allowed us to meet frequently,” she said.

She also received specialized care from Orthopedic Surgeon John Murphy, D.O., Non-Surgical Sports Medicine Specialist Jack T. Pinney, M.D., and Physical Therapist Eric Marquardt, D.P.T.

The whole team at MidMichigan worked with Fowler to develop a plan to manage her conditions. For her knee pain and stiffness, Fowler received routine cortisol injections. She also began a physical therapy regimen to build the strength in her muscles that supported her knees and back.

To address her elevated blood sugar, her medication dosage was increased. However, with her unhealthy habits hanging on, Fowler’s health couldn’t improve to where she wanted. After coming out of a holiday season filled with rich foods, her hemoglobin A1c measured at 6.9 – well into the diabetic range. At that time, she weighed around 267 pounds. Her knee pain could be excruciating at times, and she got stressed worrying about the pain when the latest injection started wearing off.

Fowler knew then that she needed to take action herself and make some serious changes. At her next primary care appointment, she told Johnson that she wanted to try to lose weight. Johnson immediately agreed to support her decision. Rather than just telling her what to do, Fowler’s provider team gave her advice and helped her figure out how she could achieve her goals. “I had a great support team,” she said. “They were all big proponents of my goal of achieving a healthier lifestyle.”

Johnson put Fowler in touch with a nutritionist who helped her put together a diet plan. “I started by not cutting everything out, but by watching what I ate,” Fowler said. She allowed herself treats only when she really wanted one, and the rest of the time opted for healthier ingredients and smaller portion sizes when she prepared meals.

At the same time, Marquardt helped her develop an exercise routine. With each physical therapy session, she found herself able to work out on the high-intensity equipment for longer and longer periods. She completed her physical therapy this spring, but had learned some good exercises that she could continue doing at home.

To Fowler’s amazement, her efforts paid off in a big way. Since the beginning of the year she has lost over 50 pounds. She was surprised to find that she had forgotten to take her pain medications for a few days without noticing her knee flaring up. “When I was due to get a cortisol shot, it wasn’t screaming at me that it was time,” she said. And the last time she had it checked, her A1c was 5.4 – comfortably normal.

All the providers and staff at MidMichigan were thrilled by Fowler’s progress, though not as much as Fowler herself. She is excitedly planning a cruise with her family for her mother’s 80th birthday, and looking forward to the extra enjoyment her newfound strength and vitality will bring to it.

Those who would like more information about members of Fowler’s care team may visit www.midmichigan.org/doctors. Information about MidMichigan’s comprehensive rehabilitation services can be found at www.midmichigan.org/rehab.