Not only is this frightening, but it is frustrating, since this does not need to be the case. Part of the trouble, of course, is that many people don’t have access to sufficient medical care, but the other factor is simply inertia: Too many people ignore their diabetes because they feel overwhelmed or hopeless, believing that their efforts to control their diabetes will have no real effect.
Motivation comes from believing that your actions (not just your doctor’s) matter. The “diabetes health account” approach outlined in Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes offers a simple way to chart your own progress and see that your efforts have made a difference. This step-by-step set of strategies illustrates that if your blood pressure is high, for example, it can always be lowered into a safer range just by employing the right combination of lifestyle changes and medicines that are effective for you.
To reiterate, the most important first step to living longer with diabetes and preventing its long-term complications is finding out where you stand with this condition. Taking control also means finding a way to manage your diabetes every day without going crazy and without letting it rule your life.
The concept of “knowing your numbers” is really quite simple. As HealthiNation video producers (www.healthination.com) note, “Most people can rattle off their important numbers with ease. They know their date of birth, Social Security number, and even their credit scores. But if you ask people if they know their cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels — they have no clue. Knowing the RIGHT numbers can make the difference between life and death.”
The human mind has an enormous capacity for retaining information, but there’s really no need to memorize your diabetes health numbers. What’s important is simply to get the tests and log the results regularly. And of course, you need to feel empowered to take action on anything that’s out of range.
An ounce of prevention
One thing you can be sure of: If everyone tracked and acted on these values regularly, their outlook for a long and healthy life would be a lot rosier. Keep in mind that diabetes does its damage slowly, over
the long term, so feeling fine today does not mean that you are fine. Only your test results can tell you where you stand, and only by keeping tabs on them can you ensure good health going forward.
Try thinking of keeping your test results in target range as your own personal seatbelt law. It’s something everyone is required to do for their own protection. Some people will be lucky enough to avoid accidents, so the fact that they were foolish enough not to wear a seatbelt may not harm them. But that’s largely up to chance. No one can predict whose luck might turn for the worse. By keeping your HbA1c and other health factors in range you can ensure a healthier future. Even if you discover complications starting to set in, the damage is much more likely to be treatable or even
reversible if it’s caught early.
Of course, the thought of caring for your diabetes for the rest of your life can seem daunting. But thinking about it in terms of your diabetes health account may help remove some of the dread. It’s just another practical area — like your financial security — that you want to manage as well as you possibly can to ensure a brighter future.