Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day in the United States. A day we gather with family and/or friends for a traditional, or maybe not so traditional, meal and we share with these loved ones the things in our lives that for which we give thanks. Then all the adults quickly depart the table and head out to the pre-Black Friday sales.
So what does all this have to do with diabetes? As I blogged in the last post, November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Floating around your favorite social media site, if you are a PWD, you have probably seen the daily “Happy Diabetes Challenge” many folks are playing along and posting their answers. Perhaps you are one of them. The daily challenge for Day 23 is, you guessed it, “What are you thankful for?” PWD’s all over the world have posted some pretty heartwarming posts of the things that make them thankful this month of Diabetes Awareness. Being thankful for things can lift your spirits and change your perspective of your situation.
I know that every night, before I go to sleep, I take inventory of my day and my activities. Like most folks, my days are not always filled with obvious things for which I should be thankful. Case in point, while the sweet potatoes were nestled in their brown sugar bath, caramelizing to a soft and sweet finish, the sweet aroma so familiar to Thanksgiving meals, became acrid. I asked my wife how long they had been in the oven? She replied that they should be ready in a few more minutes. Then she smelled it too. We both went to the kitchen. She opened the oven door and in the dish, where we should have been seeing a nice orange potato with a glistening caramel glaze was a surface of black charcoal! The oven was radiating out the obvious cause of the charcoal. The broiler was on and the oven door was closed. (For those of you not into kitchen appliances, the oven door must remain open when using the broiler.) Long story short – due to no fault of my wife’s, the oven’s computer controller board had malfunctioned. The oven was now non-functioning. (This is not the first time we haven’t had an oven or cook top but that is a story for another blog.) We salvaged the potatoes under the charred top and prepared a new glaze when we arrived to our dinner destination. So I am sure you are asking yourself, “How can you be thankful for your oven breaking on Thanksgiving?” Well, I am thankful that it happened while we were home and were able to intervene and prevent the food from catching on fire and causing damage to our house.
But, despite all the positive vibes folks are posting, I have also seen folks posting how much they hate this disease and how it has changed their lives, they didn’t ask for it, it is expensive, etc. You know the downside. Most of the posts I encounter are from the “young ‘uns” who have had their diagnosis for less than 5 years. I would never wish that anyone be diagnosed with diabetes, especially Type 1. It is a devastating and life changing condition. But, if I could change when I was to be diagnosed it wouldn’t have been in 1979! Believe it or not, NOW is the time to be diagnosed and treated. NOW is the time to have hope that there will be a cure soon. I think that part of the angst that is displayed by these folks is their generation. YES, diabetes will change your life but how you respond and use that change is entirely up to you. One of the things that I did to control this change in course was to focus my nursing on Diabetes and patient education in my professional life. I knew I could relate to both a newly diagnosed patient as well as the long term PWD. I kept myself educated and informed so I could pass along this knowledge.
You may not be a medical professional or even associated with the healthcare field. That’s OK. Be loud and proud about your diabetes. Be thankful that you are alive in 2017. That you have cutting edge technology in your test kit. Ifyou are so wired up, you have space age technology feeding you life sustaining medication by the DROP and the other device is constantly monitoring your blood sugar. In 1979, a newly diagnosed PWD was sent home with a mini chemistry set:
10 drops of urine into the tube. Wait for the chemical reaction and the urine will turn a color that you compared on the chart. The range of results was 0 – 1200mg/dl – sort of. To get the most “accurate” result, ideally, you should urinate to empty your bladder and then in 30 minutes go again to get a “fresh” sample. First, you are measuring urine. Urine is not fresh. It has been in your bladder for a bit. Secondly, it didn’t really tell you what was happening right now and it didn’t really correlate to the numbers. Oh, did I mention that the chemical reaction produced created a HOT bottom to the test tube. I promise you would only touch it once.
Imagine making plans to go out with friends for dinner. You have to test before dinner. This is why diabetics when to the rest room in the 70’s! Oh and you had to bring your own cup to piss in. It was just easier to set up shop on the counter in the rest room.
Be thankful for the breakthroughs in science that have superior treatments for the ravishing complications that come with diabetes. We can still go blind but not at the rate we used to. We still have amputations but wound care has improved and saving the limb is a lot more realistic these days. We still have kidney failure but modern pharmacology is able to slow its progression. There are still complications that have not received the attention of the others but that is because Diabetes is still very much a mystery. But everyday researchers are learning more and more.
Having a chronic illness can bring about depression, especially diabetes. Below is the Patient Health Questionnaire developed by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and is used in clinical practices all over the world to asses a patient’s potential for experiencing depression. If you beleive youmay be depressed please print this page, answer the questions and take it to your health care provider:
Interestingly enough research has been done recently that found that living with diabetes may be stressful to an individual but not enough to cause clinical depression. Nonetheless, the effect of this environment is still the same on our body. Researchers have labelled this “Diabetes Distress” and have developed a screening form for patients to use, similar to the PHQ above, but specific to diabetes and the care it requires.
You can find the Diabetes Distress screening tool here. (This is a PDF file that will open in a new window.)
With all that being said my friends, I wish you all prosperity, and as good health as you can manage to achieve! Take a new look at your diagnosis as well as your situation and try to find the good things that have occurred because of the dark clouds. (Even dark clouds mean sunny skies are on their way!)
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