November is National Diabetes Month and a good time to reflect on how diabetes impacts our lives and what can be done about it. My good friend Leonid Frolov has had first-hand experience with this disease and this week he is my guest columnist writing about his insights and experiences with diabetes. He wrote the following:
I am sure most of us have noticed at least one person at a party who would stay away from anything sweet while everyone else is indulging in what ultimately appeals to one of our deadly sins. Well, it does not have to be sinful but it can certainly be deadly for some.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are 25.8 million people in the United States, or 8.3 percent of the population, who have diabetes. Diabetes can lead to glaucoma, cataracts, neuropathy, skin infections, a number of heart diseases, high blood pressure, depression and nerve damage to name a few.
Most of us may know there is type-1 and type-2 diabetes.
Type-1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type-1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, which ultimately is the energy source necessary for our body.
Type-2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or it “ignores” insulin and it is not transformed into energy.
There is still no cure for diabetes. Even in the medical community there doesn’t seem to be a consensus about management and treatment of diabetes, especially type-1. A friend of mine who has been living with type-1 diabetes for many years admitted that one of the biggest problems for him has been lack of understanding of the disease in the medical community. He’s done some rigorous research himself, which allows him to recognize doctors who base their approach on treatment of diabetes from the most advanced research results.
But a lot can be done to manage the disease and even to prevent the onset of type-2 diabetes. Self-management is the term to describe a healthy lifestyle, which includes exercising, watching one’s weight, proper diet, keeping a balance in one’s life and keeping stress under control. Each of us can make a choice — to succumb to the disease or to put a reign on it and continue living life to the fullest. Both are possible, and the choice is ours and ours only.
“Full engagement with life” is something that we all want. Diabetes is no reason to disengage. Living with diabetes can be tough but with proper care it can be a footnote in your life’s story.
My dad got hit hard by diabetes in his 70s. With his zest for life and family support he managed to live his life the way he wanted. He painted his last painting when his vision was almost gone and he had to use a magnifying glass to see the details on the canvas. But his love for his hobby was all he needed to create yet another memorable piece of art.
Stay with those who ignite your energy, have a positive outlook on life. Stay on track with your daily commitments to yourself in your self-management.
Diabetes touches our lives more often than we might be aware of. It happens in countless variety of forms. We can’t deny the importance of understanding diabetes and what it entails on the part of everyone.
Buddha’s quote has a lot of wisdom in it: “Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.”
To find out more about diabetes prevention and treatment visit diabetes.org.