Rep. Jinkins on World Diabetes Day

Rep. JinkinsRight here in Washington state, the disease effects 1.3 million people. That figure includes our very own Representative Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma). Rep. Jinkins offered some thoughts on the disease that has lived with for nearly 40 years.

I can no longer remember a day when I didn’t seriously think about what I was eating and how much exercising I was engaging in. As I reflect on my world, I realize that being a diabetic since I was a child has completely changed my life in a way that I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without the disease.

I have what used to be called “juvenile onset diabetes”, now known as “Type 1 Diabetes.” No one knows exactly what causes it but it’s probably very associated with genetics.

Most people get what’s called “adult onset” or “Type 2” diabetes. You can’t really call it adult onset anymore because so many kids are getting it. This type is mostly preventable by watching what you eat, exercising and maintaining a healthy body weight.

From my perspective, it’s a lot easier to prevent it than it is to manage it once you have it. That’s mostly because the risks are so high. If you can prevent it, you can almost eliminate the likelihood that you’ll end up blind, or with kidney failure or losing a limb or feeling in your extremities.

That’s my focus.

Once I got old enough to understand my disease, I also understood that my future was completely in my hands. I had control, I just had to exercise it.

I’m one of very few 40 year diabetics who doesn’t have any complications. No kidney disease, no loss of circulation in my extremities, no vision problems. I work so hard at it because I realized pretty young that if I didn’t, I’d die young and I’d be pretty limited on what I could accomplish in life.

That doesn’t mean that I’ve always been perfect, but I’ve worked hard to stay healthy for what’s most important to me – my 13-year-old son, my wife, and my work serving the people of Washington.

To learn more about diabetes and diabetes prevention, visit the Center for Disease Control’s website.