You don’t have to go very far to hear someone’s pain about a serious health condition. Today I heard it at, of all places, the dog park.
On this morning I chatted with Bob, a newly retired attorney. As we spoke about what we each did for a living, or used to do, he told me of his wife’s concern as she fights diabetes – adult onset diabetes that has now made her dependent on insulin. It has a lot of ups and downs and can be difficult to manage. Clearly, managing her weight has been a problem after giving birth to their third child years ago. Being overweight, as you may know, is a big risk factor for diabetes.
Bob worried about his blood sugar numbers too. He does not have diabetes but was headed toward it. But stepped up exercise and managing his weight has helped him fight back. Things are stable right now. But his wife is in a tighter spot and there are always worries of circulatory problems including heart attack, stroke, kidney problems, vision, and blood supply to the feet. Fortunately, she is in an HMO class to give her guidance and support. Diabetes, an epidemic that now may be affecting more than 23 million Americans, including an increasing number of adolescents, depends, in many cases on individuals better managing their weight, exercising, and eating right. Beyond listening to instruction in a class, these are steps the person themselves has to “own.” And it can be quite difficult. But diabetes, when not managed, has a sad end, and for too many people these days.
Across town Rick Roberts, at 59, is proving things can be turned around. He finally, after 10 years, decided to “own” his diabetes and fight back with a total turn around on how much and what he ate and he greatly stepped up his exercise. He lost weight, reduced his reliance diabetes medicines – in partnership with his doctor – and feels 1,000 percent better. He became a “poster child” for better diabetes control.
I feel Bob’s pain about diabetes and the pain so many people feel as they fight for better health, sometimes feeling it is too hard to win.