Managing Diabetes with Bridget Jennings
_By: Sean Thurman_
Type 2 diabetes is a live-changing issue that Bridget Jennings lives with everyday. Jennings was diagnosed at age 35 while she was working as a home health nurse. Her mother had type 2 diabetes so she always knew she would be at risk. Although diabetes care was much different at that time than it is today, Jones acted proactive and used glypizide as her first diabetes medication. The goal was to keep blood sugars less than 200 ml/ds.
After she was diagnosed, Jennings started volunteering with the American Diabetes Association and also began training for the organizations annual walk. Walking wasn’t Jennings' daily hobby. She started slowly and gradually worked her way up to being able to complete and finish the diabetes walk. _She hasn’t stopped walking since._
As a nurse, Jennings knew she needed to learn more about diabetes. Her determined nature drove her to become a certified diabetes educator to practice her passion for people with diabetes.
What does a normal day look like for her? Jennings immediately checks her blood pressure when wakes up. This helps her plan her day. She then goes on a long walk with her walking partners, her two golden retrievers. After taking medication, she eats a healthy breakfast usually including items like multi-grain bread, fruit and nuts. Following her nutritious breakfast, she takes a water to go with her 45-minute drive to Florida Blue where she works onsite with diabetes patients.
Working with diabetes patients gives her the chance to dispel myths and fears associated with diabetes. She is able to explain the changes in diabetes care over the years and that type 2 diabetes is no longer your grandmother’s disease. She is also able to assure patients that they can have a full, happy and productive life.
Midday you can catch Jennings eating a balanced lunch with leftovers from the previous night or salad, soup, beans or rice. She has a small garden so her dinner varies on the vegetables she currently is growing. A big part of diabetes management is learning to be a healthier cook and to always watch portion size.
She usually checks her blood sugar twice daily and the week before her doctor’s appointments she checks before and after each meal in order to give her doctor the data he or she needs to asses if her treatment plan is successful. Because she is susceptible to stress-induced high blood sugars, she carries her glucose meter and supplies just in case.
Diabetes is a serious growing problem with terrible consequences if left unchecked. The good news is that diabetes-related complications can be avoided or prevented with good blood sugar management. Living with diabetes is something Jennings does every day as well as sharing her story with people in an effort to help them realize life is still good, even with diabetes.