An Iowa woman made changes to lose weight. She didn’t shed the pounds just for appearance. She needed to change her diet to help manage a disease that affects millions.
Jennifer Gwenigale got a wake-up call seven years ago. She says, “I happened to have an incident with my heart and was brought to Mercy by ambulance because of the heart issue and they found diabetes.”
She wasn’t surprised with the diabetes diagnosis. Her mom died at 45 from complications of disease. And, she had gestational diabetes while pregnant with her daughter. Two years ago, she made changes to get her diabetes under control. She slowly shed sixty-five pounds by watching her diet and moving more.
Now she serves as an inspiration for her patients. She’s a nurse at Iowa Diabetes Endocrinology Center at Mercy Medical Center. She says, “If they’re new, I’ll tell them, you know, I have diabetes too. I know it’s a hard thing to go through, but you can do it, you just have to put in the time and effort.”
March 25th is Diabetes Alert Day. It’s a day to encourage you to see if you’re at risk for developing the disease. Gwenigale says, “There are so many people out there with diabetes that don’t know they have it.”
The American Diabetes Association offers an online risk test. The assessment takes less than sixty seconds. It asks about age, height, weight, race and activity level to see if you’re at risk for developing Type Two Diabetes, which causes blood sugar levels to rise higher than normal. She says, “Diabetes can affect a lot. It doesn’t just affect your pancreas. If you have diabetes, it affects all your organs, if you don’t take care of it. And, that will affect the rest of your life.”
The goal is to get people to start making better choices. Gwenigale says, “I have to make a choice because I don’t want my daughter to land up like I did. My mother passed away at 45. I don’t want my daughter to go through what I did, not have her around. And, I want to be there for her.”