Bruce Braden - Living Well With Diabetes

Bruce Braden - Living Well With Diabetes

Entrepreneur. Teacher. Sports fan. Vietnam veteran. Patron of the Arts. Philanthropist. Outdoorsman. Horror movie aficionado. Bruce Braden is all these things and more, but if there’s one thing that’s never defined him, it’s his type 1 diabetes. Diagnosed decades ago at age 38, Bruce believes managing diabetes has actually made him a healthier man. As he puts it, “Some have said the secret to a long and healthy life is to acquire a chronic disease and manage it. Makes you more aware. That’s what happened to me. Having diabetes really turned me around.“

At its onset, Bruce’s type 1 diabetes presented with all the classic symptoms: fatigue, constant hunger and thirst, frequent urination and unexplained weight loss. He was referred to Dr. Linda Gaudiani, who has overseen Bruce’s treatment ever since. The first thing Dr. Gaudiani prescribed – after insulin – was disease management training. Because Marin lacked a robust diabetes management program, Bruce took a week-long class in the city. That led him to alter his lifestyle, including his diet, exercise schedule, and way of looking at life. Today, Bruce has his diabetes well under control. He gives himself insulin injections, watches what he eats, wears a glucose monitor and exercises six days a week. Hikes around the Marin reservoirs are a particular favorite.

In the years since Bruce was diagnosed, a number of his friends developed type 2 diabetes and some have faced the disease’s most dangerous complications.  Nationally, approximately 8.3 percent of the total population is diabetic. Here in Marin, roughly 1,000 of the patients hospitalized at MarinHealth Medical Center each year are admitted for diabetes-related conditions. Bruce wanted to make a difference for people with diabetes, and his long-term endocrinologist Dr. Gaudiani was the perfect person to team up with. She was already the Medical Director of Keys to Control, MarinHealth Medical Center’s multi-faceted program for patients hospitalized with diabetes and hyperglycemia. Together, Bruce and Dr. Gaudiani developed the concept for MarinHealth Braden Diabetes Center (BDC) that would provide services outside of the hospital to people living with diabetes.

With Bruce’s $1 million donation and Dr. Gaudiani’s leadership, MarinHealth was able to make the BDC a reality. Approved by the American Diabetes Association as meeting the National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education, the Center offers a comprehensive educational program that includes preventive strategies and self-management. Training is offered both one-on-one and in groups. The program also serves as a bridge clinic to help patients being discharged from the hospital to manage their diabetes.

Today, thanks to Bruce Braden’s generosity, people with diabetes no longer have to leave Marin to get in-depth training in managing the disease. What’s more, the Braden Diabetes Center has become a powerful resource for Marin primary care physicians who routinely refer their patients for diabetes education. As Bruce says, “Diabetes is the one illness, if you get proper care and manage it, that allows you to live a long and healthy life. But you have to know about it, work with it.” A positive prognosis that many in Marin can look forward to, with the expert support of their doctors and the Braden Diabetes Center.

This story was first published in January, 2017.