Jackie is one of the regulars at the Wednesday diabetes classes that nurse Shailah Bevans teaches with therapist Ebony Hicks in our West Baltimore clinic. At 49, Jackie has an open and kind face—one that doesn’t readily reveal the trauma she experienced as a young woman or the hard work of singlehandedly raising nine kids.
Diabetes shouldn’t lead to amputation in your 40s or 50s. But as you can imagine, people without homes face an uphill struggle when it comes to accessing healthy food, information about diabetes and even something as simple as shoes to protect against infection.
Shailah says, “Almost everyone in our weekly diabetes class knows someone who has lost a toe, foot or leg. Poorly managed diabetes can get to that extreme.”
Two years after Jackie’s youngest son was born, she was diagnosed with diabetes. “The doctor I was seeing really scared me,” Jackie said. “He told me my kidneys were failing. I was in a lot of pain.”
With so much at stake, Jackie did what many diabetics do: she took a hard look at her diet and tried to make a change.
She says, “It was a challenge in the beginning. There are still times I go into the junk food aisle, and I swear the food is talking to me!” Honey buns and chocolate milk were a particularly tough goodbye.
Fortunately, Jackie had just moved out of her daughter’s house and into a home of her own. She had the advantage of a kitchen to cook in, a refrigerator to store fresh food and the ongoing support of therapists and nurses to champion her progress.
“Jackie has lost dramatic weight and really has just changed her whole world,” Ebony says with admiration. “She’s a walking testimony that if you change your diet, you can manage this.”
Jackie is a rock star, and the best part is she’s not alone. An impressive 70% of our clients have overcome barriers to get their diabetes under control this year
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