Diabetes Self-Management Blog

When I agreed to write about diabetes once a week, I thought surely I’d run out of things to say in a short period of time. It hasn’t happened yet, although I was beginning to think this week that I would have to write about blowing up my stove.

Anyway, when I read the first couple of comments on the blog entry I wrote last week, I began thinking about Dick Clark. You know—host of American Bandstand, America’s oldest teenager, etc.

Here are some smatterings of what Dick Clark told Larry King during an interview on April 16, 2004:

“I have Type [2] diabetes, which isn’t earth-shaking news. But what got me shook up was that when I went in 10 or 11 years ago and they told me I had it, I didn’t think much about it: do a little exercise, watch my diet, take medication if necessary and all would be well.

“And about four or five months ago, they announced that two-thirds of the people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke. Whoa! I better get serious about this thing.

“…I don’t talk about my health a lot. It doesn’t affect me at all.”

You can read the entire transcript (in which Clark also said he didn’t check his blood glucose) at http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0404/16/lkl.00.html.

So from what I understand, Dick Clark had been diagnosed for “10 or 11 years” at that point and apparently was just beginning to take diabetes seriously.

Less than eight months after that interview, Dick Clark had a stroke.

I don’t know why he had a stroke. I don’t know what his HbA1c was, his cholesterol levels…nada. I don’t know if he had conscientious doctors. I don’t know if he’d had any diabetes education.

What I do know is that nobody I’ve ever talked to who has diabetes likes having it. That includes me. Sometimes in the middle of doing a diabetes chore I think, “I have to do this for the rest of my life?!” I don’t know that any of us enjoy taking care of our diabetes. Oh, we can certainly ignore diabetes, but the problem is that diabetes won’t be ignoring us. Mull this one over: Diabetes can affect absolutely every part of your body that has blood.

If your doctor catches the elevated blood glucose when you have prediabetes or are in the early stages of Type 2, say “thank you.”

Get educated. It’s going to take a while, but did any of us ever learn anything worth knowing overnight?

Education is particularly important. There’s an old adage that goes, “The only thing consistent about diabetes is its inconsistency.” If we try to control diabetes by rote, or by a set formula, it isn’t going to work; we need to know how things work and why we need to do certain things and how and where to make adjustments. We need to know how to reduce the risks of getting the conditions that diabetes can invite.

Such as heart disease and, as Dick Clark found out, stroke.

I’m not perfect. I don’t think anybody is. All any of us can do is the best we can. I do better at some times than at others. I’ve learned that I can’t change everything at once, but if I succeed at one thing, it motivates me to move on to something else. I tend to work on the easiest things first—I have a better chance of success in a shorter period of time so I don’t get bummed out and stamp my foot and cry and say, “I can’t do this!” and give up.

Denial is common. If you thought you were alone, think again. Join a support group—see if there’s one in your area or join an online group. Don’t be embarrassed to get professional help.

And, for the record, I really did blow up my stove. OK, it was more like I flambéed a burner. I put something on to fry and was walking out of the kitchen when I heard a loud, electric-sounding “ennhhh…ennhhh” and saw blue flashes out of my peripheral vision. (It was pretty, albeit a bit disconcerting considering it was happening in my kitchen.)

Turns out I should have cleaned the drip pan out before whatever spilled over into it caught fire and proceeded to travel to the wiring and start some pyrotechnics. So now I don’t have to clean the drip pans: I’m getting some shiny new ones on my new stove.

And if my husband thinks that the new stove he had to buy is my Chanukah present, he has another think coming.

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