Having a small container of low-fat chocolate milk with your meal is not necessarily an unhealthy choice. Unless, of course, you’re Annie B.– or any of hundreds of other Open Hand clients with Type 2 diabetes.
So when we had to say no to Annie’s simple request, she completely understood, adding, “I’m just happy to know that someone cares enough to help me make the right choices. Those choices have literally saved my life.”
Annie was referred to Open Hand a little over two years ago, dangerously obese and unable to walk up even the shortest flight of stairs. She faced the very real possibility of institutionalized care if she did not get her weight and her diabetes under control. She had already been hospitalized for complications caused by her condition, and simply did not want to give up her independence. So she made the decision to do whatever she had to do to improve the quality of her life, knowing full well it wasn’t going to be easy.
Diabetes requires that patients manage their diabetes and their blood sugar every day through a multitude of informed decisions around medicine, food, activity and stress. And if patients don’t know how to do this, they will most likely suffer from devastating diabetes complications.
“Open Hand gives me the support I need,” Annie explains. Her medically-appropriate Open Hand meals give her the foundation to work with, and she takes the educational nutrition messages she receives with each and every meal to heart. She makes better food choices, she walks a little every day–and the results have been dramatic, to say the least. To date, Annie has lost over 120 pounds and she’s effectively managing her diabetes – in fact, she no longer needs her diabetes medication. She’s also brought her blood pressure down significantly, and she’s determined to keep herself from becoming another statistic.completely understood, adding, “I’m just happy to know that someone cares enough to help me make the right choices. Those choices have literally saved my life.”
“I can do this,” she adds, “I don’t need to be in a hospital.”
While Annie is certainly an inspiration, she is the exception among diabetes patients in general. “Diabetes continues to increase both in the prevalence and the costs,” says one of the authors of the AHRQ’s report Hospital Stays for Patients with Diabetes, Dr. H. Joanna Jiang. “It’s a chronic condition, affecting almost the entire body, which can result in a lot of complications and make the patient high risk for hospital care.”
- On average, hospital stays for people with diabetes cost hospitals 25% more than stays for people who did not have diabetes ($10,937 versus $8,746, respectively).
- About 42 percent of hospital stays for congestive heart failure, 38 percent for hardening of the arteries, 34 percent for heart attack, 31 percent for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and 29 percent for chest pain with no specific cause involved patients who also had diabetes.
- The South had the highest rate of hospitalization due to diabetes at 2,829 per 100,000 people.
This is precisely why Open Hand’s mission is proactive and prevention-focused. With an estimated 57 million Americans currently “pre-diabetic” or at risk for diabetes* – we know we must intervene earlier in order to prevent the disease altogether or the onset of complications associated with it.
Annie knows that she’s not completely out of the woods by any means, but now she’s in control, and her quality of life has improved immensely. “I don’t want this to happen to any more of my family or friends,” she adds. “This is preventable…and I make sure that every one of them knows that every single day.”
Open Hand is dedicated to improving the health of all of our clients, and all meal plans are designed meal plans to adhere to the nutrition guidelines set forth by the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association and American Dietetic Association.