Living With Diabetes

Diabetes starts long before the symptoms appear. The sooner your doctor can start tracking blood glucose levels, the sooner you can start avoiding diabetes. Researchers have now found after tracking over 6,500 people that glucose levels begin to change up to 13 years before the onset of diabetes. If it is possible to deal with those changes early, it is possible to change diet, exercise and a few other lifestyle habits that will delay or eliminate the chances of a person getting diabetes.

If you already have symptoms such as excessive thirst, tingling or pain in your hands and feet, having to urinate more than often or vision changes, check with your doctor as soon as possible and get tested. Getting tested for diabetes has become much more simple than in the past and the results are more accurate. Once you know if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes you will be able to start treating it so that it does less damage to your body.

Since diabetes is so insidious, it is important to look for the signs in the paragraph above. Diabetes is different for everyone, but diet, exercise, regular visits to your doctor, using a glucose monitor daily – as many times as your doctor prescribes – and taking any medication or insulin your doctor gives you is essential to warding off more serious problems and complications.

Some people have neuropathy as a result of diabetes. Usually their feet tingle, burn or hurt and their hands and sometimes arms tingle or have throbbing pain. This is because the nerves are being damaged by the diabetes. Your doctor can prescribe medication that will deal with both the pain and work with the nerves.
There are many more choices of medication and treatment for diabetes than there were even a decade ago.

A close family friend was diagnosed with diabetes many years ago when the options were basically oral medication or insulin shots. I remember how painful the glucose checks were because the lancets were much more midievel than they are now. She took pills and changed her diet and finally had to go on insulin shots. Other than that and some extra exercise – in her case, walking more – she lived for many years after the diagnosis. When she finally had to go on dialysis, at first she went to the hospital to have it done and then she got a portable dialysis machine that she could use at home. When her feet hurt, she used an electric wheel chair when she went shopping every week.

She lived a full life with her children and grandchildren and died in her early 80’s which is considered at least 2 years longer than average. She lived to see her 4th grandchild turn 1. That was her last grandchild, so this was a special gift. She told me that she knew she was going to die soon because of some of the acute changes in her body but she said she was OK with dying because she had a long life, traveled, had a wonderful husband, children and grandchildren and had outlived most of her friends. She was not unhappy about dying, but she said it wouldn’t be her first choice. What she did say that was profound was that because she did what her doctor said, changed her diet, lost weight early in the game and took her glucose measurements and her medication like clockwowrk every day, she was in charge of her diabetes, it was not in charge of her. She said that because of this, she kept the more difficult symptoms under control much longer and she lived much longer, too.

When you hear someone who has diabetes and is at the end of their life and knows it telling you these things, it is sobering. What she said has changed my life and the lives of others, helping them to live healthier – either to avoid diabetes or to control their diabetes. Whether you have diabetes or not, the information she gave me is invaluable for all of us.

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