Diabetes can be the best thing to happen to you, or the worst, you decide. I know it sounds strange saying “the best thing to happen to you” when it is obviously a condition that no one wants. But some people have it, actually a lot of people have it, 1.5million in Nigeria alone. How do you manage a condition that has claimed millions of lives and is described as the 7th world killer? A condition that is the leading cause of blindness and foot amputations? Before I get into it, let me tell you a story about two patients of mine:
This man is 80 years old, he has been diabetic for close to 30 years. But he has not allowed it slow him down. He is still active and lives to encourage others with the condition. He has accepted that he may never become a non-diabetic, but he is fine with it. In fact when I was telling him of people who have improved with their condition, he just smiled and said that he knew it was possible, that where he is right now is an improvement from where he was.
Now I have another patient with diabetes, much younger than the former, he is in his late twenties, his condition keeps getting worse. He is frustrated by the disease and hates the fact that he is a diabetic, he has refused to come to terms with it. Let me just say this, I am a Christian and I believe in miracles and in hope, but, there is nothing wrong with accepting where you are and having faith and working for better. Some people through away their drugs in faith that they would get better, only to deteriorate and die, I bet you don’t hear those stories, but we do, we see it.
Being diabetic can be as good or as terrible as you choose to have it be. Now how to you manage it you ask? Simple really…
So you’re diabetic? It’s not the end of the world, it’s the beginning of a new chapter.
- Accept that your life has changed from the moment the diagnosis was made: Things are going to change for you, you cannot live the same way you’ve always done. I believe this point is actually the most important. It’s not a curse to live with diabetes. It might be a challenge but the enjoyment and pleasure you get from being alive does not have to diminish. See your diagnosis as a wakeup call to take better care of yourself.
- Get informed: Be sure to gain knowledge about diabetes. Attend support group meetings, speak with your doctor, your counsellor and other people that have had the condition. Find out what’s new in the management of the condition.
- Live healthier: You already know that foods that get converted to glucose in your body have to be reduced from your diet. That means less rice, yam, potatoes, and bread and eliminate processed foods, pizza, pastries, sodas etc. I know it sounds tough, but developing a complication and watching the treatment drain your life and your savings is much worse. If your monitoring system is on point you can choose to have an occasional treat (but this is only for people who are showing good control). Now exercise, exercising helps control the condition, it stimulates the body to release more insulin and mop up the glucose in your blood stream. Keep up the workouts. And make sure you add weight training to what you do. Using weight help you build more muscles, muscles utilise glucose. So, add some weights.
- Stay safe: diabetics are more prone to infections. Their bodies create a more conducive environment for microbes. But don’t worry, just ensure that you stay away from compromising situations. Be proactive, if you develop a sore throat, UTI or any infection, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
Foot care, it is important that you ensure your feet are well taken care of. Avoid cuts and bruises on them. Diabetic foots are ulcer/wounds that happen on a diabetics person’s foot. It takes a very long time to heal, and when it gets infected, the foot may need to be amputated. It is actually the leading cause of foot amputations.
- Keep a close eye on things: It’s my wish that all diabetics would have their own self-monitoring device to be able to check their blood sugar regularly. Remember, the fact that you don’t feel sick at the moment does not mean that you aren’t. So many people go into diabetic coma just because they did not keep a close eye on the condition. Have a journal/self-monitoring book to track your figures. You can always send it to us at Keek’s and we’ll counsel you.
- Comply with your medications: Take them as recommended. Don’t skip doses, don’t throw them away.
- Report any developing complications: If you notice diminished eye sight, changes in urination patterns, an injury on your foot, numbness or sensitivity in your hands and feet, speak to your doctor.
- Remain positive: Look forward to your best days, because they are still ahead of you.