November is Diabetes Awareness Month. As the title suggests, this is when the entire month is devoted to sharing information on Diabetes and its effects. I recall a post that I saw on social media that reads, “Most people don’t think diabetes is very serious…until it hits them.”
In 2012, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population, had diabetes (www.diabetes.org). This number continues to grow. As with many other chronic diseases, diabetes affects the individual and their families, friends, co-workers, and anyone they may meet.
Both my mother and father were diabetic. One of my uncles died from diabetic complications. Although I was aware of the disease, I knew very little about the disease until I was diagnosed. Yes, I knew that diabetes is hereditary. My understanding was that it had something to do with having “too much sugar” in your blood. I knew that being overweight had something to do with diabetes. However, I didn’t care too much for sweets and I was not overweight. Therefore, my diagnosis was a complete shock to me.
Below are some interesting facts surrounding diabetes that I would have liked to have been aware of before my diagnosis.
- Type 2 Diabetes means you are insulin resistant. Insulin is what keeps your sugar (glucose) levels where they should be. Diabetes occurs when your body isn’t manufacturing enough insulin.
- One of the early signs of diabetes is fatigue. I recall going to the doctor because of fatigue. At that time, I could sleep for 12 hours and would still awaken exhausted.
- Diabetes can affect body hair. I didn’t consider it a problem or something I needed to be concerned about when I no longer had to shave my legs or underarms, but I should have been concerned. Diabetes affects blood circulation, which can translate into the loss of body hair (www.hairfoundation.org).
Being diabetic is definitely a lifestyle change and maintenance is required. While it’s important to follow your doctor’s orders and take the prescribed medication, there are additional steps that you can take to reduce the effects of diabetes.
- Get regular eye check-ups with an ophthalmologist.
- Check your feet daily. Have a regular foot exam at least once a year.
- Get your annual flu shot.
Having diabetes does not have to be a life sentence. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help to keep your glucose levels under control. A healthy lifestyle includes exercising for 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week (check with your doctor before beginning an exercise routine). Healthy eating is important. Your meals should include the following: vegetables, whole grains, fruits, non-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, poultry and fish.
Surrounding yourself with positive people will help you to keep a positive perspective. Although living with diabetes requires a lifestyle change, it’s not impossible.
By Lorraine M. Castle