November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Following October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month, can take a toll on fund raising efforts. After speaking with Lynn Cranford, associate director of Northwest Florida/South Alabama division of American Diabetes Association this week, it occurred to me most people don’t know the effort it takes to get the word out about diabetes awareness. I believe people need to know more about diabetes where they can understand just how much help is needed. We need people to help financially and help with education for people who just don’t get it and end up losing a foot or a kidney. It is time for me to take a ‘Step Out’ and talk about these needs.
I recently viewed a meme drifting around on social media promoting diabetes awareness that said, ‘Diabetes isn’t sexy.’ While that statement is true, it also points a finger at the support breast cancer receives while diabetes kills more people than both breast cancer and Alzheimer’s together. All disease is bad. I think diabetes gets swept under the rug because so many people have it and are unaware of possible long term complications.
Having diabetes is something I deal with every day. I wear an insulin pump and a glucose monitor on my body. Every day. It causes me to think about counting carbohydrates and just how much exercise I can do without re-evaluating insulin dosing.
But that’s not the hard part. The difficulty is knowing I don’t live a life free of worry about just how long my body is going to continue without serious complications. It takes a toll. Sure, I need to watch out for spikes in blood sugar or hypoglycemic lows. But it’s the long term damage these high or low numbers can cause which brings about major concern. Diabetes can strike anyone at any age. It’s genetic for most but a smaller percentage gets it because of lifestyle choices. Just the other day someone shared an opinion about another diabetic who didn’t take ‘good care’ of herself and suffered from a hypoglycemic reaction.
I want to set the record straight. What this person doesn’t understand is the disease can cause a reaction regardless of the effort a person is making. Diabetes can be controlled and a diabetic can live a productive life. However, it is a disease which can wreck havoc with serious complications with or without excellent control. We need a cure. We need education. The best thing a person can do when they find out they’re a new diabetic is gain understanding of how their body works. It’s not just about finger pricks. It’s not just about smelling like insulin or wearing ‘durable medical equipment.’ It’s about life. Time to check my sugar.