Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is at epidemic proportions in the United States. This little heard of disease two generations ago, has risen to a very prominent place in our medical language. If we don’t know at least three people with it, we are either living a very sequestered lifestyle or just maybe the luckiest person in this land. Some report the population having DM is greater than 23 million. So what is this disease taking over our lives?
Diabetes according to the National Institute of Health is Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or sugar, levels are too high. With type 2 Diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus), the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood. DM is the one most often found as we age and contract Diabetes.
Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems. It can damage your eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb.
We all hear the instruction of don’t eat so many sweets, cut back on dessert, no drinking alcoholic beverages, soda pop and presweetened beverages. And all this has some merit; however some of thinking has changed in that a closely monitored diet that is balanced and with fresh fruits and vegetables is more health for those with this disease. The other part is, two generations ago when this disease started to rise, we did not have the flexibility in food preparation that we do today. Not to mention that today there are many alternatives to a sugar packed meal. Fast food is certainly not the answer, but sometimes cannot be helped.
The medical community has also determined that exercise and lifestyle play a very important role in how well a person with DM does. As stated by the National Institute of Health, there are many additional diagnoses which will follow in short order if we do not heed the warnings our body is giving us regarding our Blood Sugar. Every part of our body is affected by DM. While this use to be a given that all systems would fail to one degree or another, this simply is not true anymore. People can and do live with DM to a very old age in relatively good health. What’s the secret?
Living with DM is like taking on the challenge of our life. Every day we will be presented with choices and we must make the right choices. A healthy lifestyle and nurturing our body with the right amount of exercise and good foods is just the beginning. Paying attention to all the signs our body is sending to us is perhaps a little more difficult. One of the known difficulties with having DM is healing becomes slower and requires more direct attention. Extremities are some of the most venerable area of our body to sores from falls, rubs and so forth. These need to be addressed as soon as noticed, and when in the past we might not go to our physician because a sore was not healing as fast as we thought it should; now it is a must. Non-healing areas on extremities tend to lead to amputation in DM patients quicker than anything else.
We are coming up on the time of the year when there is lots of celebrating and food coming from all directions. Having DM certainly does not mean you cannot go to the parties and get to gathers to enjoy friends and socializing. Actually it is just the opposite, for those with this disease. Educate yourself on the dos and don’ts of partying, know what you should and shouldn’t eat and drink, then go and have a great time, just make good choices for your body. DM is not a disease which will stop you from having a full robust life; rather you will have a wonderful life and feel empowered by managing your own health.
Yes DM is something we will have to consider each time we get to a meal or snack. However, we are the ones in the driver’s seat. We can go hiking, swimming, roller blading, skiing, sledding, horseback riding and still have DM. We can curl-up with a good book or travel anywhere in the world and beyond.
Begin the educational part of this new aspect of our life (just as we did learning anything else new) go to the experts. Start with the local hospital and ask for the Dietician. Most hospitals today have a program to not only teach how to manage our food but how to manage food others prepare for us. Then go to the local YMCA, YWCA or gym and begin an exercise program that fits you. Do not try to fit into someone else’s program, get help making your own. And it is not to be forgotten that many hospital’s and communities have CAPRI programs to help you get started, ask your doctor.
Is this a change in your life, yes it is, but for the better. Many people who have DM and are not being treated (DM is silent), don’t feel well, many are tired and depressed. Many have UTI (Urinary Tract Infections) frequently, which is uncomfortable, urgency for urination and stomachaches. Frequently headaches and muscle aches seem the norm and just wanting to stay at home seem to rule our life.
Today is a new day in the diagnosis and treatment of DM. Don’t let what you saw with your grandmother be your window to this disease. And if you don’t have diabetes but perhaps have a family tendency for this, start now taking care of you. There will be great rewards in doing so. Should you do a lot of entertaining and want to have the best party with lots of fun and good times had by all, give thought to the foods which will fit into the dietary requirements for balance. Then place them on your table to blend in with all foods. You may be surprised at how quickly people will take to this.
DM is not the beginning of the end, rather the call to a healthier, happier lifestyle. Enjoy your life and take everything in moderation. You will have a meaningful, productive time.
Just to recap; DM is a disease which determines the way your body uses sugar. The important thing for us is that not all sugar is what is in the sugar bowl. Managing our daily carbs is also a tremendous factor in controlling our DM.