Both Chris Moser, assistant professor in the College of Education, and Debra Miles, loan specialist, have experienced firsthand how the OilerWELL program can benefit faculty and staff members and their spouses. Like most, Moser and Miles joined the program to take advantage of the financial incentive; the health maintenance and preventive care was an added – and life-saving – benefit.
“The wellness program saved my life,” said Moser. “I thought I was healthy because I felt fine, lifted weights, ran regularly and did martial arts.”
He was unaware of what was lurking in his body.
Jan Macmann, nurse at the Cosiano Health Center and OilerWELL program coordinator, urged Moser to schedule a colonoscopy, which was part of his preventive care. “Jan even threatened to call my wife if I didn’t make the appointment,” said Moser with a laugh.
“Jan was in my human resource development program, and I always thought about her before classes,” Moser said. “I knew she would ask me after class if I had scheduled the colonoscopy yet.”
Preparation for a colonoscopy is unpleasant, however, most agree that the preparation is worse than the procedure itself. One must fast for 12 hours and drink a fluid that cleans out one’s system for the procedure. Moser was one of a very small percentage of patients who had to fast all over again and repeat the procedure the following day.
“I was so mad; I was looking forward to eating. I had even picked out a McDonald’s where I could go get my Big Mac,” said Moser.
Sitting in his office a few weeks later, his phone rang, and he wasn’t prepared for the information he received.
“They told me they had found and removed two polyps during the colonoscopy. They also said that if I hadn’t gone, there was an 80-percent chance the polyps would have become cancerous,” Moser said. “The doctor told me to call the person who had told me to get my colonoscopy and thank them because I owed my life to that person.”
Miles joined the OilerWELL program with a history of diabetes and high blood pressure, and her husband joined the program with some medical history, as well. Both were struggling with managing their health, but neither realized the wellness program would be the answer.
“I was originally diagnosed with high blood pressure, for the first time in my life, immediately following my husband’s diagnosis of malignant melanoma in 1999,” said Miles.
Then, in 2003, Miles was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.
Miles admitted to being “terrible at taking medication.” She commented that she would do really well the week following a doctor’s appointment. “I felt the impact of the doctor’s lectures, and then returned to not taking the medication.”
Miles’ blood sugar became increasingly high until she was in danger of losing her toes or feet. She continued to take medication on and off, but the diabetes remained uncontrolled, causing unhealthy drastic weight loss.
“When my husband made the conscious decision to become more physically active and lose weight – as the direct result of the wellness program – my competitive side kicked in, and I started a walking regime. I also joined Weight Watchers,” said Miles.
Since then, Miles has lost weight in a safe way, and both her diabetes and high blood pressure are under control without medication. Her husband no longer needs diabetic medication either.
There are countless other success stories due to the wellness program. Although most join for the financial incentive, many quickly realize that taking control of how they live and feel is the best reason to participate in the program.
“Everything happens for a reason, and thanks to Jan, the wellness program and working here at UF, I have more time with my family,” Moser said.
Written by Samantha Holman