By Jan Chait | June 5, 2007 11:11 am
One of my ongoing freelance projects is writing a monthly series for my local newspaper about the top 10 killers in our area. It pretty much follows national trends, and I’ve already done the top four: heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Next up is number five: diabetes.
Last week, I went to interview one of the local endocrinologists, and the first thing I said to him was: “I’m a new patient. What’s the first thing you’re going to tell me?”
Doc immediately began a long litany involving diet and exercise. I listened (and listened, and listened) and finally halted his dissertation. “Do you realize,” I asked, “that you have yet to say anything about helping me get my blood glucose under control?”
But that’s what he was saying, he insisted.
He may have thought so, but it wasn’t what I was hearing.
“My A1C is 10.5%,” I said. “I’m tired and hungry all the time. Besides, diets haven’t worked for me in the past, so all you’re doing is setting me up for failure.”
Ah, wouldn’t it be nice if the conversation went more like: “My, your sugars are high: You must feel terrible! We’re going to get those down and you’ll feel much better.” And then maybe explain what helps lower blood glucose? And tell me that getting my blood glucose under control will alleviate the hunger and give me back some of that old zip?
I remember when I first began taking insulin and the lethargy went away. It was a miracle drug! Energy in a bottle! I couldn’t wait to give myself the next injection! “Heh,” said my boss, who had Type 2 diabetes and knew what was happening. “You just thought you were getting old, didn’t you?”
The whole scenario made me think about Type 2 diabetes, attitude and reality. For example, I thought of a “chicken or egg” case: Which came first: “fat and lazy” or Type 2 diabetes?
For instance, when glucose isn’t getting into your cells, your body thinks it needs more food. You’re hungry. The higher levels of glucose in your blood are sapping your energy as well. You’re tired. You’re eating too much in an attempt to quell your hunger. You’re too tired to exercise. You gain weight. It’s a vicious circle.
About that point is when you’re diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes—which you’ve already had for years.
As I write this, I’m on a cruise ship. I was sitting on the veranda earlier today, looking at the navy blue waters of the ocean. Just a flat blue. Then I looked down and the view became three-dimensional, with bubbles and water forming patterns together and pieces of seaweed under the water coming into view.
Had I not looked at the ocean from a different perspective, I would have missed seeing a deeper (so to speak) picture. Could it be that way with Type 2 diabetes? That people in the diabetes industry looked only at the surface for years, saw only “fat and lazy,” and never looked beneath the surface for contributing factors?
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