February 22, 2012

Uncaring About Diabetes – Not an Easy Challenge

For several days, I have been wrestling with how to write about a potential member of our diabetes group. This person has type 2 diabetes and has been included in our discussions on two occasions. He is still not convinced that he has to do anything about his diabetes and we know that he is in denial. The first time he attended we knew he was very angry and not accepting his diagnosis.

Then Jan Chait who writes for Diabetes Self Management wrote an excellent blog February 14, 2012 about someone that was seeming uncaring about diabetes. This cleared the cobwebs and I am writing about this person. He is retired and lives alone. He said that he knows of no one in his family that has or had diabetes, but did lose his wife to what he says was diabetes about three years ago. She was diagnosed about three years prior to her death with diabetes and put on insulin at the start.

He does not know what caused her death other than he blames the diabetes and insulin. When he found out that six of our group was on insulin, he about passed out and asked how long we had been on insulin. I am the longest of our group on insulin at eight full years and another has been on insulin for about five years. The shortest time on insulin is almost three months. Others have been on insulin for more than one year.

This surprised him and he asked why we were all appearing to be healthy and able to get around on our own. His wife had been put on insulin and about nine months later had one foot amputated and was in a wheel chair.

When asked what his A1c was, he could not tell us. All he knew was that the doctor had told him he had diabetes and wanted him to start a medication. He could not tell us the medication, as he was not going to take it. We knew we had a challenge. How were we going to get him to accept his diabetes and take the steps to manage diabetes?

We did encourage him to get copies of his test results done by the doctor. We also talked some about food and made some suggestions we thought might help him. He seemed very receptive to most of our ideas. When we got to moderate to high fat, he balked and said his doctor has encouraged him to be on a low fat diet. We asked if he was having problems with weight gain to which he answered no. We then asked him if he was having cholesterol problems and how he was doing on the lipid panel. He said good as far as he knew.

Again, we strongly urged him to get copies of all tests the doctor had done. Then we asked, if he did not mind, bring them for him to read from to add a solid foundation for discussion. He said he would and we let him go with that. He said he will stay in contact with his closest neighbor who is one of us and had invited him to the meetings. I have since learned that he is out exercising every day that he is able. He jogs and walks every day – weather permitting and apparently has a treadmill in his house.

Now if we can get him past his denial and to accept his diagnosis. Then he may be more open to some serious discussions for managing his diabetes. We are hoping that we may have another potential member. We are also aware we have a challenge ahead of us.

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