Even til this day, I continue to have mixed feelings about having diabetes. Sometimes I can’t seem to my head around past frustrations; from not being properly diagnosed until late, then diagnosed with the incorrect type of diabetes, being forced to see numerous doctors who all felt your a hypochondriac, to all the unnecessary diabetic complications I’ve endured as a result of poor medical guidance and care. Your life literally depends on your doctor’s level of skill, ability, expertise, even the condition of the clinic/hospital. I truly feel that diabetes testing should be a mandatory standard procedure. I also think that every health care professional should have yearly refresher courses.
Diabetes has caused many troubles in my life; physically, psychologically, and socially. This disease has hugely effected the way I interact with other people. Part of me wanted to keep quiet, part of me recognized the need to inform my immediate surroundings (should something happen, or even to avoid misunderstandings), and part of me saw the need to educate the larger masses. I’ve had to do an unbelievable amount of soul searching, in order to reach were I am now. Therefore, I’ve decided to put my computer skills to good use, and share my knowledge and experience with the world. Most diabetics would prefer to keep their condition a secret. There still exist a heavy stigma about diabetes that will not go away anytime soon. However, so long as we stay quiet, those stigmas will never be decimated.
Being open about diabetes can also be a way to get needed resources, and encouragement for a lifetime of health management. Unfortunately, if your coming from an older generation, being open about diabetes can be interpreted as “letting everybody know your business”. I’ve met a number of diabetics who use this mindset as an excuse to cloak their food habits and behaviors, sabotaging their chances of living a healthier quality of life. Some with uncontrolled sugars even assume their doing bad, when in fact a simple change in medication dosage may be needed. Younger diabetics may have serious concerns about career choices, and how diabetes can effect their work life.
Diabetes is not only silently dangerous, but can be ruthless if you’re not paying attention to your sugars. Diabetes has no mercy for people who choose to completely ignore their condition, be it short-term or long-term. The problem is that a large portion of diabetic management is left up to the patient. If your not properly educated, your not going to do well, not to mention confused by out of control glucose ranges. If your not encouraged in a positive way, you will not do well either.
From personal experience, diabetic education should not be solely left up to the doctor/LPN/CDE to give you. Diabetes requires you to take initiative, and play an integral role in your own health. There are numerous resources to gain diabetic information. How else would you posses the knowledge to ask important questions, or even be empowered to challenge a doctor’s methods? Diabetes education never stops. Like computers, there are always new things we are learning every day about the complexity of sugar. Knowing your body is equally important. If you feel something is not working, tell your doctor immediately.
Just because your doctor makes you smile, does not mean you are getting the best care for your diabetes. Since diabetes can be life threatening, no diabetic should settle for less care. The same way we would travel miles a way to save a couple of dollars on a pair of shoes or sneakers, we need to take this same attitude about our doctors. It’s worth looking for a good specialist, such as an endocrinologist (specializing in diabetes and metabolism). Keep in mind that a doctor’s spiritual, cultural beliefs, and personal perceptions may make a huge difference in how medical care is performed. It may also make a difference in the kinds of information, or how much information he/she gives you.
I am absolutely dumbfounded by the verbal cruelty, insensitivity, and blatant assumptions about diabetics from almost every angle. No wonder so many diabetics choose to be quiet! But the unfortunate fact is, non-diabetics have no incentive to pick up a book or even a pamphlet and read about diabetes; and if they did, the information would be overwhelming. On the flip side, it is also true that for doctors/LPNs/CDEs who only have book knowledge, don’t posses real life experience living with diabetes. However, reading books on diabetes in my opinion are like reading a driver’s manual; it only gives you the important basics to what you need to know, in hopes that you can gather enough information, to make safe decisions while driving, when the unexpected occurs.
So in a nutshell, I’m trying to say that diabetes is different for everyone, our circumstances are different, even the type of diabetes are different. But you owe it to yourself to learn as much as you can, to make the best decisions for yourself. You also owe it to yourself, to research every medication your doctor gives you. I’ve had side effects that were worse than my past complications. It’s a sad fact that way too much diabetic information comes from “word of mouth”. The problem with “word of mouth” (or second, third, fourth, or fifth hand information) is, it becomes kinda like a rumor; it’s usually never the complete & full story, yet, bits and pieces of a rumor are often accepted as a whole story, by the majority as legit & factual. Anybody offering unsolicited advice about your diabetes, should be at least investigated at bare minimum.
Through all i’ve been through, I’m here to share positivity with every visitor I come in contact with. Diabetes does not have to be doom and gloom. If I am able to take my A1C from 14.5 (heart-attack/stroke levels) down to 6.3 you can do it too!! I manage to reverse my complications, in addition to getting 90% of my vision restored through surgery. Having diabetes does not mean you can’t live a normal life. You must at least make an attempt to change, and do what you have to do even if it means insulin; otherwise your quality of life will be taken away in the long run.
There is no time to play the role of victim with diabetes. The quality of health care has diminished significantly, yet, medical cost are still skyrocketing, and insurance companies are paying less (even after this supposed great health care reform bill??). Having said this, it is important to keep yourself as healthy as you possibly can, to even avoid going in to a hospital. Stay away from those people with the “miracle cures”, cause their is no such thing yet! If there were, every single news organization would be on it. Diabetics must talk to other diabetics who are successfully managing their disease. It is the only way we can manage this global epidemic of 290 million world wide, and still growing…
© 2010 DiabeticRadio