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What Do You Know About Diabetes?

November is Diabetes Month. Now, it may not be something that you pay a lot of attention to but I’ve recently had some dialogue about it with a young lady that I work with and it’s really opened my eyes to a bunch of things. I grew up in a country where diabetes is called “sugar” and it doesn’t seem like that big a deal. I thought that persons had to minimize their intake of sugar and starch and that’s about it. I thought it was an “old people” disease. I was wrong.

There’s nothing simple about diabetes. It’s a very serious illness that affects a great number of people.  

This “simple” illness could result in persons having one of their lower limbs amputated, strokes, heart attacks, blindness, kidney disease and death … in 2010 it was the seventh leading cause of death in America alone.

The WHO fact sheet states 422 million persons diagnosed in 2014 and predicts that by 2030 it will be the seventh leading cause of death worldwide. It’s not something to be taken lightly.

Diabetes is a silent killer. educate yourself about the dangers because there's no cure.

Interview With Ann

I want to give you an inside view on one of some dialogue I had with someone who is diabetic in the hopes that it will open your eyes to the real danger of this disease.

Q: When were you first diagnosed? 

A: September 2013

Q: What was you first thought? 

A: I’m going to die soon.

Q: Do you have a family history of diabetes? 

A: Yes.

Q: Did you think you were “safe” before your diagnosis? 

A: No, I knew I would have it eventually.

Q: What did you think (if anything) led to the diagnosis of your disease?

A: Sometimes there wasn't enough money to buy proper food, stress, etc.

Q: How did it impact your life? How does a life-changing disease affect one’s life?

A: Negatively! You have to count sugar, carbohydrates, cholesterol. Watch every tick bite, cut, sore, etc.

Q: What changes did you have to make in terms of diet, lifestyle change etc.? 

A: I changed how I ate to include more vegetables, less carbohydrates. I started more stringent exercise.

Q: What advice would you give to persons who have recently been diagnosed? 

A: Good luck. Your life will become more difficult. Take it seriously but at the same time, try to still have fun in life.

Family will become burdensome but remember their concern comes from a place of fear and love.

Q: What would you give to persons who do not have diabetes? 

A: A reality check: I’d advise them to take their health seriously.

Q: What’s your greatest fear related to your illness? 

A: Dying, losing my sight, losing a body part, etc.

Q: What’s your way to help deal with your diagnosis? 

A: Not dealing with it. I’m trying to live life as best as possible.

Q: If you could go back to a year before your diagnosis, what would you change?

A: Not sure if I could change anything. That was my life at the time. A lot of things were unavoidable.

Ways to Prevent Diabetes

It may be too late to change that young lady’s diagnosis but there’s still time to change a lifestyle before it’s too late.

So let’s talk, what’s diabetes?

Basically it’s when the body is either not producing enough insulin or the insulin being produced is not being used effectively to regulate the sugar in the blood. Prevention is essential because there is no cure for diabetes. There are however relatively simple things that can be done to prevent diabetes type 2:

  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Becoming physically active – try to get at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days.
  • Eating a healthy diet, avoiding sugar and saturated fats intake; and
  • Avoiding tobacco use – studies have shown that smoking increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Find out if you have a family history of diabetes – how many of your family members are diabetic? At what age were they diagnosed?

Being aware – we Jamaicans have a saying, what you don’t know can’t hurt you. In this case it can. Being ignorant about this disease can cost you your life.

Knowledge is king. It is important for us to understand that our health is in our hands. For the next 28 days I challenge you to do something that leads you to a healthier lifestyle: exercise more, reduce your sugar intake, eat less processed foods …

Who knows, maybe you will develop a habit that saves your life.

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