Diabetes is a disease that is affecting everyone, in some way. Either you have the disease or are pre-diabetic, or you know someone with the disease. According to the American Diabetes Association (2011), 25.8 million adults and children have diabetes in the United States. That is 8.3% of the population, with another 7 million who remain undiagnosed. This disease affects everyone differently, but regardless, families are affected equally.
Paula Deen recently shared that she is diabetic and fans and viewers were quite surprised. It may seem that the fact that she is overweight is the primary cause of her diagnosis. However, other celebrities such as the actress Halle Berry and NBA star Ray Allen are affected by the disease also. Halle Berry was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes after collapsing on a TV set in 1989. Berry is not overweight, but learned that her health was at risk and made several changes. Ray Allen’s son has Type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disorder and cannot be linked to lifestyle choices.
Regardless, be it Type 1 or Type 2, families can make some conscious decisions together to improve the quality of life for everyone and not just the individual diagnosed with the disease. Three simple steps can help improve the quality of life that a family has as they adjust to a new diagnosis and deal with an ongoing battle of diabetes.
1. Embrace a positive attitude. Diabetes is not a death sentence. Although sometimes it is reversible with diet and lifestyle changes, in other cases it is not. Despite the facts that the doctor may have stated, remind each other daily that the important thing is that you have each other. With support and encouragement, you will get through each day, one second at a time.
2. Knowledge is power. Read and learn all that you can about the disease. If it is Type 1 or Type 2, learn the symptoms and monitor the blood sugar levels regularly. A normal range is between 80-120. But please consult your physician for the specific level for that is recommended for you (or your family member). Some people take these numbers lightly. But like gas prices, you do not want fluctuations in these numbers. You want a consistent steady number.
3. Lastly, inform others around you of the condition. Diabetes is not something to be embarrassed or ashamed of. If it is due to obesity, others might help individuals make healthier food choices and thus help to reduce the blood sugar. If it is Type 1 and autoimmune, they can still help with controlling a diet and lifestyle. Additionally, they will know what to do if something happens in an emergency.
The last position situation anyone wants to be in is one without any control. Friends and family are not there to cause drama or to gossip with. They should be a means of support through the good, the bad, the ugly, and the unwanted circumstances. In a group of informed individuals, one can find safety. But if all those around know nothing, then consequences can be detrimental, and even deadly.
Nobody wakes up and says “Yes!! I have diabetes.” But what they can say is “Yes!! I have control over this disease and it does not have control over me!”
For more information on diabetes visit:
American Diabetes Association
JDRF (formerly Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation)
Center for Disease and Control
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