"I'm Here, and I Get to Help Make a Difference": Jessie Meador's Journey With Diabetes
At just 13 weeks old, Jessie Meador spent nearly a month in the hospital. After her mother had been unable to wake her up from a nap, she was in a coma for 4 days. Meador had type 1 diabetes, the rare, hereditary and unpreventable form of the disease. Since her diagnosis as a baby, Meador has managed the health impacts of the condition - but she sees her experience as an opportunity to help others.
"I'm here. And I get to help make a difference," she says.
Meador's mission to help others starts inside Annie Penn Hospital, where she volunteers for the Diabetes Task Force in Rockingham County. Created in 2012, the task force helps people who are struggling to manage diabetes, brings them access to treatment and educates the community on how to prevent the disease.
"It's a crisis - it's a pandemic," says Dr. Gebre Nida, MD of Reidsville Endocrinology Associates. Nida is also on the task force. He is the only Cone Health endocrinologist in Rockingham county, and he treats hundreds of patients every month. Nida reports that Rockingham and surrounding counties have a high number of diabetes cases, but also emphasizes that cases of diabetes are not just growing in one county or one state - they're growing everywhere.
Type 1 diabetes is unpreventable. But there are actions you can take to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes - mainly by eating a healthy diet and exercising.
"We have to eat less, and we have to move more," says Nida. Meador echoes his advice.
"If you can avoid it, avoid it," she says. "I couldn't avoid it, there was no choice. I had no say in this. If I could be without it, I would be without it. So do whatever you have to do - it's really pretty easy. Eat well and exercise. Drink water. Those three things will save your life."
Diabetic Foot Health: What You Need To Know
Claire Dillingham, DO, continues the conversation about diabetes by discussing the best practices for diabetic wound care.