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How Much 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 I work with and it’s really opened my eyes to some things. I grew up in a country where diabetes is called “sugar” and it doesn’t seem like a big deal. I thought 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.

How Much Do You Know About Diabetes?Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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

This “simple” illness can result in someone having a lower limb amputated. It can cause 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.

The 2017 Diabetes Statistics report indicates that 30.3 million of the American population is diabetic. 84.1 million adults have prediabetes. More information here.

Interview With Ann

I want to give you an insider's view of some dialogue I had with a diabetic. I hope it will open your eyes to the real danger of this disease.

Q: When were you first diagnosed? 

A: September 2013

Q: What was your 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, still try to have fun in life.

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

Q: What advice 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, so many fears...

Q: What’s your way of dealing 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 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 type 2 diabetes:

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Become physically active – try to get at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days.
  • Eat a healthy diet, avoid sugar and minimize saturated fats intake
  • Avoid tobacco usage – 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 – 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 to promote a healthier lifestyle: exercise more, reduce your sugar intake, eat less processed foods …

Who knows, maybe you will develop a habit which can save your life.

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