Diabetes is a challenging disease to live with. The chronicity of the condition is what makes it challenging to manage. Imagine having to make decisions such as what to eat, how much to eat, when to take the diabetes pills, whether or not to exercise and so on it goes constantly and frequently throughout a person’s day for the rest of their life. At some point the person living with diabetes throws in the proverbial towel and caution to the winds and begins to ignore their blood sugars.
It is often easy to forget that behind all those blood sugar readings, physician visits, blood tests, piles of medications, there exists a person, with emotions, thoughts, a family, a job, hobbies and favorite foods, to name just some of the aspects of a person’s life.
There are several types of diabetes: Type 2 diabetes (used to be called adult onset-obsolete term now that teens are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes) and Type 1 diabetes (used to be called juvenile onset- obsolete term, now that adults 21 and older are being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes). Gestational Diabetes is diabetes of pregnancy, typically diagnosed between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy and goes away when the baby is delivered. And then there is medication induced hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), steroids are the culprits and while on steroid therapy, people deal with higher than normal blood sugars.
Diabetes is a family affair; when someone in the family is diagnosed with diabetes it is almost as if everyone in the family has diabetes as well. This means that for the person living with diabetes, having the support of family and friends is very important when it comes to managing diabetes and preventing serious health problems. Family members of the person with diabetes are often “diagnosed” with “Type 3 diabetes”, a term used by many health professionals who counsel patients and families on diabetes self-management.
Why the term diabetes SELF-management? Diabetes is one of those unique conditions that to a large extent is managed by the person living with the disease. This in and of itself makes it difficult to manage particularly if there is lack of motivation and knowledge to make informed decisions to manage blood sugars.
Managing diabetes is an expensive affair, what with soaring cost of medicines, health exams, diabetes supplies. Great strides have been made in the field of diabetes medications, blood sugar testing technology; however the cost of these essential ingredients needed to manage diabetes, only seems to be sky-rocketing. This adds to the burden and barrier of diabetes self-management.
Over the last couple of decades I have seen countless patients in my practice, deal with varied levels of motivation, resources and knowledge (or lack thereof) and have held their hand and been their coach as they dodge the barriers and work hard towards better blood sugars.
November is National Diabetes Month, let us together make a commitment towards becoming more aware of this disease. How can we do this? If you are not diagnosed with diabetes, but it runs in your family, be sure you visit the doctor and get screened for diabetes (a fasting blood glucose test is the gold standard for diagnosis). If you are living with diabetes but are not able to manage it successfully, make a commitment towards better blood sugars by taking your medications as recommended, eating healthy meals, exercising regularly and incorporating stress relieving activities in your routine.
I invite you to visit me at Dougherty’s Pharmacy and learn more about how you can manage this challenging condition and better yet prevent it.
Have a healthy November!