It looks like a small home gym, complete with a weight bench and an elliptical machine, but to Clint Baker, this is his “House of Pain,” a designation stenciled on the wall in big, black letters.

“Every morning, it’s a mental fight to go into the House of Pain,” he says.

And yet, he does – sweating, exerting, pushing past chronic knee pain and the fallout of a back injury – because his quality of life depends on it; a life that was saved, he says, by diabetes.

Baker, 60, found himself in intensive care at Mary Lanning Healthcare in Hastings, Nebraska, a little more than a year ago. Diabetes was the culprit. “Laying in the ICU, I made a solemn oath to myself: I either had to get busy living or get busy dying.”

The retired electronics technician immediately began educating himself on the disease.

“When I read that people could manage diabetes with exercise and diet, I knew that was the only route I could go because the consequences of diabetes weren’t acceptable to me. I started the day after I got out of the hospital, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Baker, who lives in Red Cloud, Nebraska, cut out simple sugars and found a combination of foods that are his “new normal.”

He started walking a brisk two miles a day with his two dogs. He eventually increased that to three miles and got back into cycling and Japanese stick fighting.

“After about four months, I was walking four to five miles in the morning and then doing 60 minutes on the elliptical.” Four days a week, he lifts free weights.

While in the ICU, he learned about the Wellframe® app, a comprehensive health management tool that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska makes available to its members free of charge.

“I was ready to grab onto any resource available because I knew that I had to be the manager of my diabetes,” Baker says.

Like all Wellframe users, Baker was immediately assigned a BCBSNE nurse care manager. Together, they developed a personalized plan to support his wellness goals and a personal relationship through in-app chats.

“I had this professional who was shoulder-to-shoulder with me the entire time,” Baker says. “I discussed my workouts, the pain I was going through, the high points of the day and the low points. They (BCBSNE’s Care Management team) were always there to give me resources and suggestions. What wonderful people to have in your corner.”

The HIPAA-secure Wellframe® app includes a checklist of daily to-dos, customized notifications for medications and doctor appointments, and a library of articles and videos to help patients on their wellness journey.

The results of Baker’s lifestyle changes have been dramatic: “I’m not taking any medications or insulin. I manage it all through exercise and diet. My doctor refers to me as his star patient.”

Beside that stenciled “House of Pain” in Baker’s workout room is a complementary reminder – that “Pain is temporary; quitting lasts forever.”

“I don’t want anyone to think it’s easy,” he says. “I have to go through that mental strengthening every morning.”

It’s part of his “get-busy-living” mindset – and he isn’t looking back.

“Diabetes didn’t restrict my life. Diabetes, in fact, has saved my life. Since I became a diabetic, I’m back into snowshoeing, snowboarding and skiing. I’m just not letting it stop me.”