Local News

Story published: 12-04-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Jenkins beats diabetes with diet and exercise


By Paula Walter

In the United States alone, it has been estimated that 25.8 million men, women and children have diabetes, a metabolic disorder where the body does not utilize the insulin it produces correctly, causing blood sugar levels to elevate. The effects of uncontrolled blood sugar levels causes a host of health problems, including glaucoma, cataracts, pain and ulcers on the feet, skin infections, heart disease, high blood pressure, gum disease, nerve damage that causes severe pain, strokes and infections.  

In April, 2012, Edith Jenkins of Shady Valley noticed her energy level was practically non-existent and she had a vague feeling of just not feeling right.  She relayed that within a few days, her hands had turned blue and appeared to be bruised.  After being admitted to the hospital, her kidneys began to fail.  She had no strength at all and couldn’t walk.  During her stay, it was discovered her blood sugar level had soared to 1,198.  A normal, fasting glucose for someone without diabetes should fall between 70 to 100 milligrams per deciliter.  For those with diabetes, a fasting sugar level range is between 70 to 130 milligrams per deciliter and after meals less than 180 milligrams per deciliter.  

The first course of treatment for Jenkins was insulin to stabilize her glucose levels.  Depending on the reading from her glucometer, she would have to take insulin injection up to four times a day. Her memories of her hospital stay are vague and she has very little recall about being admitted to the hospital. After her discharge, Jenkins spent 22 days in rehabilitation in order to gain her strength back.  

Jenkins’ doctor stressed he wanted her to concentrate on losing one pound a week and incorporate exercise into her daily life.  She gradually dropped 54 pounds.  “I listened and began to gain control,” Jenkins said.  Her doctor advised eating three meals and three snacks per day.  According to Jenkins, each meal consisted of 50 grams of carbohydrates plus a total of 20 carbs per snack for a total of 210 carbs per day.  Within two months, Jenkins was soon able to be weaned off the insulin and put on oral diabetic medication.  “I gave up soft drinks and sweet cereal,” she said. Her doctor recommended she should not deny herself food she wanted but to pay attention to portion control. She also began to walk 20 minutes a day and used a stationary bike.  A blood test that measures the levels of glucose over a three to four month period showed that Jenkins’ levels had fallen to a normal level of 5.5 percent after her weight loss and exercise program.

Jenkins gives credit to God and her doctor for the improvement in her health.  According to Jenkins, her physician spent time with her in prayer and told her that with God’s help, they would conquer her health problems.  “He’s a very dedicated and religious man who has never made me feel like a number,” said Jenkins.  She is adamant in her belief that her faith in God and a lot of determination helped her overcome diabetes. She continues to control her diet and works at exercising every day.  She has been able to discontinue all medication, including ones for hypertension.  “I feel better than I have in many years,” Jenkins said.

While millions in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes, there are also millions that are pre-diabetic.  Estimates show there are nearly 7,000,000 diabetics that have not been diagnosed. The disorder has become epidemic. Symptoms that blood sugar levels may be elevated include

an increase in urination, an unquenchable thirst, unexplained weight loss, weakness and fatigue, a tingling or numbness in your hands, legs or feet, blurry vision, itchy skin and cuts that take longer than normal to heal.  Contact your physician if you notice any of the above symptoms.