Diabetes and Me

My diagnosis of Diabetes Type 2 was not a surprise but still unwelcome – like an unpopular family member moving in to stay. I had all the risk factors: fifty, family and fat. The immediate effects were emotional – anger and resentment and psychological – grief and depression.

The greatest impact was on my relationship with food. There is nothing about food I don’t like and I have a sweet tooth. Now, it seemed food had become my enemy. Too much of certain kinds of food mean higher blood glucose levels which can lead to long term poor health.

I was strongly encouraged to shed kilos. The food buzz words  became low fat, low sugar, low salt and small portions.

Consequently, my relationship with food has been evolving over the past eight years and is still a work in progress. My diet has been changing and I have been trying new foods. After a trial period, I have rejected those foods which for me are unpalatable. And yes, I still eat, in much more modest quantities, those foods which I love.

My sister, a pharmacist, was very supportive. She arranged a blood glucose monitoring device and membership of the National Diabetes Services Scheme and recommended I contact my local community health centre to arrange to meet a diabetes educator.

I’ve also had the help of a podiatrist who knew about the benefits of a Continuing Care Plan. I learned as much as I could by obtaining information from Diabetes Australia and attending an information session for people newly diagnosed with diabetes at the Knox Community Health Centre. It was challenging and depressing – but helpful.

Now I walk daily and have added gentle yoga and strength training classes to my weekly level of activity.

Until I was 50, I barely saw a doctor from one year to the next. Now appointments with health professionals litter my diary. Adding to my support team, a new G.P. who is proactive and knowledgeable about diabetes has been a big bonus.

Whilst attending a Better Self Management of Chronic Illness course conducted by the Knox Community Health Centre,  I met a small group of women who have become my friends. It is great having support from people who know the ups and downs of living with a chronic illness.

I have been strongly motivated to manage the diabetes as my plans for the future depend on remaining as healthy as I can. Getting my blood glucose levels under control meant the unexplained lumps, rashes and fungal infections which existed prior to diagnosis disappeared. To date, I have not experienced the health complications which can occur over time.

It is important to me that I manage the diabetes. I am responsible for my health. I need assistance, but ultimately I am the one who needs to determine what works for me.

This is the edited article ‘Diabetes and me: Margaret Griffin’ which appeared in the  July 2012 edition of the ‘Bayswater Buzz’, a local community newspaper. 

What has really helped over the years since the diagnosis of diabetes has been:

  • Supportive family and friends
  • Getting the facts from people who are knowledgeable about the disease
  • Ignoring well meant but ill informed advice
  • A proactive GP who is willing to refer me to relevant services and government funded schemes
  • Access to the services of the Knox Community Health Service.

The support of these people made the decision to go onto insulin injections much easier.

Having plans about how I want to live my life has meant I focus on health and living rather than on illness and disease.

I have included this drawing of lilies as they represent the optimism I feel at present.

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2 Responses

  1. I commend you for taking the initial steps to better health and awareness regarding the diabetes. I have an elderly friend who I help out weekly who was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and I am helping him make adjustments to his diet and lifestyle. I am still amazed at people who give advice that is not accurate, or they continue to offer sugar-laden foods and say, “oh, just have a small bite… a small bite doesn’t hurt a thing”. If it were me, I can’t stop at a little bite. I’d inhale the whole piece!! Support, to me, means respecting the limitations and changes in diet for my friend. When I’m visiting him, I eat what he can eat. I commend him for a good glucose reading… and when he struggling I offer encouragement. Hang onto those dear people who understand and respect the changes you are going through. I really enjoyed your thoughts in this post.

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Lori. I think people are well meaning but unaware of what they can do or say which is actually helpful for a person coming to terms with the adjustments in lifestyle diabetes requires.

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