Martin Staunton Returns to 59 News - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Martin Staunton Returns to 59 News

Posted: Updated:

A welcome return for 59 News Monday – our own Martin Staunton is back in the newsroom after battling diabetes-related health problems for months.

"It feels really good to be back at work," said Staunton. "It's been several months, four months to the day, in fact, since I last saw you on 59 News. In that time, I've been admitted to the hospital 17 times, more than a dozen at Raleigh General in Beckley. It turns out my health problem was a complication from my diabetes."

"Diabetes has many complications if it goes unchecked," said Dr. Elizabeth Nelson of Raleigh General Hospital, "and one of them is diabetic neuropathy and the nervous system in the stomach can be affected, causing diabetic gastro paresis, which seems to be what affected Martin's digestive system. So you eat and foods can't be digested properly and then you have undigested foods that normally get vomited up or pain, belly-pain, but then you start to lose weight but not in a good way."

She's right about losing weight. Martin went three and a half months without being able to keep any solid food down. Doctors, including his primary care physician Dr. Mustafa Rahim, knew he was literally starving to death.

"So at one point, Martin was very sick," said Dr. Rahim.

Martin spent weeks in hospitals but nothing was working to stem the tide of severe malnourishment. He traveled to Duke University's Medical Center, but there was no relief to the constant vomiting. Martin lost 55 pounds over 12 weeks, until the gastro intestinal team at the University of Virginia gave him a feeding tube to get some calories into his body. 

"A feeding tube is a temporary bridge," said Dr. Rahim. "It's a temporary condition and the reason I think they did that is that over the months when Martin wasn't able to keep anything, to keep your nutrition, because you need to keep the balanced nutrition in the patient and giving him the nutrition made the difference in his case.  Martin is almost back to normal, where he was before.  Obviously he has not gained all the weight back, but the symptoms have gone and he's learned to live with the symptoms he has."

"It's manageable," said Dr. Nelson. "It is a chronic disease, it's not something that there's a cure for, but it is something one can manage."

"There were several times during this ordeal where I honestly thought I wasn't going to make it," said Martin, "but it was the thoughts and prayers from you, many of you viewers and friends and family and neighbors that I believe helped pull me through."

It may be a little where before Martin returns to the anchor desk, but in that time he is going to do some special health reports focusing on diabetes, its complications and more importantly, how one can manage this chronic disease. 

"You can live with it," said Martin. "I'm going to and we're going to find out how to do that together."