I actually enjoy telling people they have diabetes.
One time I had a patient tell me that I needed to work on my approach. I was the first person to tell him he had diabetes and he thought I was far too “happy” while I was doing it. He suggested that I present the information with a more somber expression.
I had never considered that before. Is it wrong for someone to smile while they tell you that you have a chronic disease? Sometimes, I feel a little guilt for being happy to him he had diabetes for the first time… but then the guilt passes.
Here’s why I am happy to find people with diabetes: After I find them, they can (happily) become aware that they have diabetes; AND then they can (happily) start doing something about it.
Trust me. It’s better to KNOW that you have diabetes than to NOT KNOW. After all, some things associated with diabetes are definitely NOT happy.
If you have diabetes – I did not give it to you. You had it all along. You just weren’t AWARE of the fact that you were having a problem. If you’re not aware that you have a problem, you’re likely to develop complications from elevated blood glucose and poor control. Complications like these:
- Heart disease and Stroke
- Kidney Failure and Dialysis
- Eye Complications
- Nerve Damage (lack of feeling, motor function, or increased pain receptors)
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Skin Complications (slow wound healing, dry skin, discoloration of skin)
- Increased Risk for Infection (surgery site infections, UTI, gallstones, pancreatitis)
- Depression and Suicide
- Gum Disease
- Foot Complications (hammer toe, tingling, ulcers, amputations)
Don’t those things seem worse? Now that you know what could happen if you didn’t know you had diabetes, aren’t you glad that you know you have it?
Isn’t it a happy moment?
Unfortunately for a lot of people it’s not, because instead of accepting where they are with their health, they wish they could TURN BACK THE CLOCK.
That is not possible. My job is to help you see where you are and realize – “Hey! It’s not so bad.” Diabetes is manageable. Livable. Sometimes, it might even be enjoyable.
But…those other complications of uncontrolled diabetes are not as livable or fun. I hate to see people with diabetes suffer from these sources of debility. My goal is to keep my patients from having these complications altogether.
Some people with diabetes think complications are inevitable.
They are not. Ask yourself this question: How are you going to get complications from having high blood glucose when you DON’T HAVE high blood glucose?
If you can keep your blood glucose in target range (70-110 before meals, 70-140 two hours after meals) 80% of the time, you can reduce your risk of complications by 56-76%.
That’s the whole name of the game. Keep your blood glucose in target range. It’s as simple as that – and as hard as that.
It’s hard because it’s a lifestyle/behavior change. It’s hard because you have to accept that part of you is not working optimally and take over the work it used to perform naturally. It’s hard because you might have to say “no” to things which other people are able to say “yes.” It’s hard because you might have to make time to check your blood glucose – EVEN IF YOU’RE BUSY. It’s hard because you might have to accept the fact that you need medication. It’s hard because other people that don’t have diabetes could feel sorry for you, look down on you, or judge you for having diabetes.
It’s also hard because, for people with type 2 diabetes, it’s a moving target.
That’s why you need a diabetes educator. Not for one hour of your life. But, you need an educator as an ongoing process of learning about yourself and how to take care of your chronic disease. You need an educator to communicate what’s going on with you and your diabetes to the doctor so that you can get the best care.
Diabetes won’t go away. But, you can control it.
You are worth the work it requires to take care of yourself.
Do you believe that?
Your health is worth protecting. Your freedom is worth protecting. It’s not an automatic guarantee. Please don’t take it for granted.
HAPPY World Diabetes Day!
Take some time to love the people around you with diabetes. They’re extra special.