The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) television studios, UDCtv, provides the Washington, DC area with programming geared to foster health, political and environmental awareness.  Dr. Katherine Marshall Woods hosts this UDCtv show entitled “A Healthy Mind” featuring guests from a myriad of professions lending information to promote healthy living and lifestyles.  Entries entitled: “A Healthy Mind” share these interviews.

Drs. Dawanna James-Holly and Katherine Marshall Woods

On April 29th, 2020, Dr. Dawanna James-Holly, was invited onto the show to discuss her journey of being diagnosed and living with diabetes. On this episode Dr. Dawanna James-Holly shares her story about adjusting to life as a diabetic and helps others navigate how to manage this condition day-to-day. Dr. James-Holly has dedicated over a decade to public health nutrition. She currently works with the Department of Agriculture to provide oversight of food safety research grants and food safety information products. 

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Dr. Marshall Woods: “Hello, my name is Dr. Katherine Marshall Woods, your host for this episode of A Healthy Mind. The purpose of this show is to inform and educate the public regarding mental health, from emotional disorders to social policies that affect healthy minds.”

“According to the CDC 30.3 million people have diabetes, approximately 9.4 percent of the United States population. 23.1 million people are diagnosed where 7.2 million individuals are undiagnosed. Meaning 23.8 percent of individuals with diabetes function unaware of their diagnosis. Obtaining preventative care is important, though, even for the most medically informed, awareness and care may not be enough. Factors such as genetics, age, and societal factors influence ones health and with time modifications of caring for ourselves may be necessary. Once diagnosed with diabetes, being monitored and managed by health professionals such as nutritionists and endocrinologists can lead to a healthy maintenance of the condition.”

“With me today is Dr. Holly to discuss her experience managing her diagnosis of diabetes. Dr. Dawanna Holly has over 18 years of experience, administering federal government programs in nutrition, and as a grant administrator of National Food Safety Programs. She has served as a public health Nutrition Advisor and Researcher, Grant Writer, Grant Project Director and Program Manager of the Federal Child Nutrition Programs throughout Washington, DC. Most recently she has served in the federal government to provide oversight of food safety research grants and food safety research information products. Dr. Dawanna Holly, Welcome to A Healthy Mind!”

Dr. James-Holly:  “Thank you!

Dr. Marshall Woods: “So, your are brave and very passionate about your experience about being diagnosed with diabetes. When did you get diagnosed?”

Dr. James-Holly: “Thank you for the opportunity to speak about it because, it was mind blowing for me, in that, I was not prepared for something like this. I was diagnosed in August of 2019, so we’re less than a year, in terms of my diagnosis and, I’ve been through a lot. I’ve gone through a significant amount of change in terms of my physical condition, as well as just the regimen that’s needed in order to manage diabetes. So, I think for the most part, I’ve done a lot very quickly; and I’ve been fortunate because my body reacted to the medication immediately. And as a new person, who is newly diagnosed, sometimes it doesn’t happen that way.”

Dr. Marshall Woods:  “Mhmm, I can imagine that everyone has their own individual journey when it comes to their experience with diabetes. And, why don’t you tell us a little about your beginning stages. What made you get tested for diabetes?”  

Dr. James-Holly:  “Ok so, I think, you know, considering that I have the background that, in which I was educated about diabetes, just in terms of my professional journey. However, it never applied to me that this would be something I would need to pay attention to until I started to recognize that there were family members that were diabetic, you know, I do have a history in my family. But again, because this is something I thought I was knowledgeable about, I should know better, that it was not something that I thought I should worry about in my own life and as an individual. But, what I noticed were the symptoms, and those are the things that, I think, a person that isn’t informed needs to pay attention to. So, I was very thirsty, I’ll just start out with, I mean like extreme thirst. I was drinking a liter bottle of water as if it was an 8-ounce glass of water. (Laughs) And, I mean non-stop I was just drinking water, drinking water. But, again in my situation is happening in August, August is a time of the year where everyone’s drinking water, everyone’s thirsty. So, it was something I thought maybe I was dehydrated and that might be what was happening to me. And, when I say 2-liters, within twenty minutes I was drinking another 2-liter bottle of water, so it was very very apparent that something was wrong. And, so the frequent urination followed, I was fatigued, I was very tired; and so I think that I just kind of thought, this has to be something else, it cannot be diabetes. And so, I think that was something, if I noticed it and recognized, of course its diabetes. It’s the first thing everyone says you need to to pay attention to and I just kind of ignored it. But I can… Go ahead.”

Dr. Marshall Woods:  “I’m sorry, you know, I just want to catch you right there because you said you ignored it. And I’m wondering is it because you have been living a lifestyle already that was pretty healthy. Or did you just feel like, it just can’t happen to me, or, what made you feel like this may never happen for you and your health?”

Dr. James-Holly: “And you know what, you said something that sparked, it’s probably the best answer. I thought I was living a healthy lifestyle I have a sitting workstation at work, I walk routinely, I was knowledgeable about my fruit and vegetable intake, I drank certain types of juices. I thought I was on the cutting edge to health, in my mind, but my physiology didn’t say so. One of the things that I did battle with is during that time I was trying to loose weight, so I was about twenty pounds heavier than I am right now. And so, I don’t know if it coupled, with the genetic factors and weight status, it coupled one another, and that was probably one of my bigger risk factors. And, so I think that overtime it just presented itself, you know, all at once. So, maybe I wasn’t drinking enough water, so I think that’s probably why I ignored and it and I thought, ok, my body just needs to replenish itself, and that was all I had, that’s all I thought about. And, I just kept on going, going through the busy lifestyle, going to work, I just completely ignored it.”

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