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The Jean Johansen Story
Diabetes Education Program

“I stopped feeling guilty and started to rebuild my health.”

People react in different ways when they are diagnosed with a life-changing illness such as diabetes. Many are anxious about how they and their families will cope. They may worry about finances, experience uncertainty about the future, and more. 

For Jean Johansen, who was diagnosed with diabetes nearly a year ago at Island Hospital, the reaction was one tinged with relief. “Finally I could put a name to my lack of energy, my weight gain and other symptoms,” says Jean. “I could stop blaming myself for what I believed was simply a lack of self-control.” 

Jean and Elmer, her husband of 52 years, are Seattle-area natives who first came to Anacortes on a camping trip in the 1950s and returned twenty years ago to make their home here. An artist whose work has been shown in a local gallery, Jean began to gain weight in the past few years and to experience periods of fatigue. A complete blood test led to a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes.

Once on medication and a healthy diet, Jean’s weight gradually began to go down. She learned more through classes and one-on-one sessions offered by the Diabetes Education Program at Island Hospital about how to better manage her disease. 

“At 71, I’ve faced some tough challenges in my life,” she says. “I found that my health is very important to me, and I want to do everything I can to preserve it.”

Not only did Jean take responsibility for her own care plan, she has been willing to help others. As a community representative to Island Hospital’s advisory committee which oversees the Outpatient Diabetes Education Program, she provides a voice for those in the community who have been diagnosed with the disease.

Jean was one of the first to participate in the Conversation Maps®; the program for group sessions in use at Island Hospital that encourages open communication among those with the disease.
 
She’s also enthusiastic about the supervised exercise class for diabetes patients now being offered at the hospital and may sign up.  “Right now I’m riding my stationary bike at home,” she says. “I’m working up to 20 minutes a day and shooting for 30. It has helped lower my blood glucose levels, so when it comes to exercise - along with other healthy behaviors - I’m a true believer.”

The Island Hospital Diabetes Education Program is located at 2511 M Avenue, Anacortes. For information and appointments call (360) 299-2083.

Diabetes Education