Some friends ask me why I write about diabetes. I’m not diabetic and they want to know just what the motivation is. I keep writing but sometimes I do ask myself the same question. I’m not sure of everything but no one is and I’m thankful for that. I just know there is something important in diabetes because it reflects our lifestyle not only today but throughout times. Of course there is a genetic component to it but even then diabetes can still be managed by lifestyle changes.
Diabetes reflects the choices we make as people and the consequences thereof. It reflects history and culture. The effects of these lifestyle changes are not always good for us. I see the suffering of diabetes at work; in the wounds I take care of and every time I change a wound dressing I see that they are not getting any better, I see the sad expression in the patient’s face and they don’t know what went wrong. I think that there has to be a way to achieve a better outcome and it all starts with education.
As a diabetes health coach I saw that most patients had no idea of what diabetes is. They knew nothing of its progression; the functioning of the liver and pancreas or their relationship to glucose control or production. They had no idea on how to change anything. I found out that the problem is deeper than just no knowing things but a cultural and motivational one. How can you change in a few months something that has been going on for hundreds of years; something that is basically printed in our genes. It has to do with the ways we eat and enjoy our food our lives, socially and ultimately our modern life with our machines doing all the work for us and tuning everyone into couch potatoes. It takes more than just knowledge but an amazing determination to change. This determination can only be powered by the knowledge of how damaging it can be if we take the do nothing approach to diabetes.
As a wound treatment nurse I see some pretty scary wounds at times. More than half of the patients I see are diabetics. The non diabetic wounds might look like any other but they just don’t get better. The wounds just stay the same no matter how many times you change the dressing. This is very distressing to the patients and it creates all kinds of social problems ranging from embarrassment, humiliation, hopelessness and not knowing if wounds will heal and the real risk for amputation. Another big concern is to take control of diabetes at the very beginning. Medications may control diabetes but they have a hidden cost.
If you go to a clinic you may find that doctors have little time to spend with diabetics. Education takes time, and follow up takes time so drugs are the quick way out. Most likely they’ll star you on oral medications such as Metformin or Glipizide and after a while if your blood sugar doesn’t improve is insulin. The problem with drugs is that they only control your blood sugar for a while; soon you need to increase the dose. Insulin will only cause you to be more insulin resistant with time so we should try everything to avoid getting there. If insulin is the only option to regulate your blood sugar then you should try everything to try to lower your insulin dose and not increase. So what are our options?
Yes. Lifestyle changes, food and exercise. So the trick is that…there is no trick but just do it which is the hardest part. This can lead to so many positive changes that would benefit anyone not only diabetics. So I like to try convincing people to try harder and encourage them that yes you can do it and it’s all possible. Not a miracle or a miracle drug or method that once you start there will be permanent results. Yes; it is going to be hard but it can be done and with small increments you’ll get there. I guess that’s why I keep writing because I believe you can change everything in life. At least if nothing else you’ll feel a 100% better if you exercise and eat well.
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