March 24, 2010

Defined by Diabetes

Many people with diabetes speak and write about not letting diabetes define them.  They go to great lengths to state how diabetes cannot and will not define them and their lives.  I sincerely hope that their wish is granted.

I have to admit that I felt this way for a while and I thought I had possibly succeeded.  However, after a long look in the mirror, I for one, know that my life now is defined and shaped by diabetes.  I write about diabetes and about diabetes service dogs.  I spend much of my day reading and researching diabetes, finding topics that I feel comfortable writing about and how diabetes affects me.

Of course, being retired helps me find the time to devote to this and enjoy doing these things.  Whether I am able to help people or not, I look forward to sharing information with those ready to learn. 

Diabetes has meant adding more doctors for me to see.  I occasionally saw a podiatrist for an ingrown toenail or when I had planter warts, but now I see one on a quarterly basis to maintain healthy feet and to catch potential foot problems early.  I never had need of an endocrinologist before diabetes, but now I see one on a quarterly basis.

I started seeing a neurologist for sleep apnea and what was neuropathy approximated three years before I was diagnosed with diabetes (should I have known what was coming then?).  Now I see him at least twice a year and sometimes more often.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was in the hospital for angina.  Therefore, I see a heart doctor at least twice a year.  I have always seen a urologist since I was a teenager and was kicked in the groin by a cow; however, now I see him additionally on a regular basis for checking my kidney health. 

This year, I am planning on adding an oncologist for possible yearly visits to do a cancer check, partly because of age and family history, but also because I use lantus insulin.  I still see my primary care physician on a quarterly basis.  I have other doctors and specialists I see on an irregular basis, but in general my doctors are definitely a sign that I am a person with diabetes.

While I could say I don't want my life defined by diabetes, I find it is, and in some ways this definition is a good thing.  It has caused me to be more conscious of my health and to be much more proactive in my health care.  While some of my doctors may not be overly happy with my being proactive, most are happy and actually talk with me rather than at me.  My diabetes has also forced me to be more social in the way I look at things, and more important, more willing to accept changes.  While I am still feisty and ill-tempered at times letting my negative side get me into hot water, I am finding myself mellowing and becoming more even in my approach to life.

Diabetes makes me who I am now, and I will not deny this.  I must test my blood glucose on a regular basis, both pre and post meals.  I will do extensive testing from time to time when I add new foods or want to add new to me foods, and when things seem to be changing for me.  I count carbs, do what I am able for exercise (and this is getting better), and take care of myself.  I do let my wife help when needed.

When people actually stop and think about it, diabetes does affect the decisions those of us with diabetes make on a daily basis.  It affects the foods we choose, which fortunately are more healthy for us than the ones we were eating before diagnosis.  It affects the restaurants we patronize, the snacks we eat and to a large part when we eat.

Therefore, by being more realistic, I am gaining better control and not wasting time denying my diabetes.

1 comment:

Pine said...

Bob this is so true. With out realizing it but diabetes does taken over your whole way of living. If you don't let this "natural" process take place you are not controlling your diabetes correctly.