You will see and hear more information about diabetes because November is National Diabetes Month. There are as many reasons for an increase in this diagnosis as there are new patients. The main causes include genetics, inactivity, obesity, and stress.
I once visited a hospitalized patient concerning diabetes and his infected foot. When I approached his bed, he barely opened his eyes after I introduced myself as a dietitian and a certified diabetes educator. He told me that he knew all that he needed to know about this chronic disease and that I was wasting my time.
In a professional tone and manner, I shared some helpful blood glucose facts and he said, “I know that.” I peppered him with information; just in case he may have forgotten.
The man never changed his story. He stated that he knew all that he needed to know but his body language told me something different. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and asked me if I had anything better to do. He tolerated me for only a few more sentences until he rolled his back to me in bed. He was in denial.
The adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” ran through my head. If this person knew all there was to know about diabetes, then how did he end up in the hospital with blood sugars out of control and an infected foot?
Diabetes is a very misunderstood disease. Just when someone believes they know all they need to know about diabetes, something new is discovered and treatments change. I suspect my patient learned diabetes care years ago and failed to stay current with his treatment options.
As a diabetes educator, I talk to many people: truck drivers, beauticians, housewives, factory workers, engineers, accountants and everyone in between. Some have college degrees, but most do not. Many of them think that they have better things to worry about than their own health.
Many people dealing with diabetes have witnessed someone in their own family experience the complications of this genetic disease. A daughter cried as she remembered her mother going blind. A grandson sadly remembered his beloved grandpa losing a leg. Needles and test strips bring unpleasant memories to many.
Countless patient stories are sad; some are downright frightening. People fear diabetes. They suspect that their future will be affected by this disease. It is this fear that leads many to denial.
The first step in dealing with diabetes is admitting that it exists. Recognizing the possibility of uncontrolled blood sugars leads to attempts to gain control.
Health professionals aid and assist people in dealing with diabetes. They teach people how to control daily glucose readings. When the numbers are too high or too low, the complications take hold and the person’s health just gets worse.
If you or a loved one deal with diabetes, do not ignore it. President Roosevelt said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Bobbie Randall is a registered, licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator in Wooster, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected]