Diabetes by the Numbers (continued)
Very important numbers that have nothing to do with blood sugar
Say this three times really fast: Diabetes doesn't do in diabetics. Diabetes doesn't do in diabetics. Diableaties dubesnt blew in tha blah.....Pfft! (sound of tongue getting tied).
Oh. Wait. Sorry. I'm not supposed to call us "diabetics" anymore. But "diabetes doesn't do in person with diabetes" just doesn't have the same fun ring to it.
But my point here is that diabetes, the disease, isn't what ultimately kills those of us who have it. High levels of blood sugar from uncontrolled diabetes sends some of our kind to early graves from the dialysis center, generally blind and missing toes; but the vast majority of people with diabetes are done in by heart attacks. That being the case, the next most important thing after controlling your blood sugar is controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol. So those are the next two sets of traffic lights we are going to cover.
Blood pressure readings
Like elevated blood sugar, elevated blood pressure can have both short- and long-term effects. In the short term, if your blood pressure goes really, really high you can put so much pressure inside a blood vessel that, like an overfilled party balloon, it will at some point go pop!
A party balloon that pops in your face will startle you.
A blood vessel that goes pop! is a much more grim affair. It's called an aneurysm. Or a stroke. Nuff said about that.
Longer term, in one of those the shin-bone-is-connected-to-the-knee-bone chains of cause and effect, high blood pressure leads to coronary artery disease, which leads to plaque buildup, which leads to the narrowing of artery walls, which leads to blood clots, which ack! causes heart attacks. So nuff said about that too.
On top of coronary artery disease, long-term high blood pressure trashes out the delicate capillaries in your kidneys. All of us worry about our blood sugar wiping out our kidneys, and it can. But many more people with diabetes end up in dialysis from elevated blood pressure than from elevated blood sugar. I can't emphasize enough how bad your kidneys' odds are if you ignore both blood sugar and blood pressure. And don't think that because nature gave you two kidneys, that you have a spare. You have two kidneys because the human body doesn't work very well with only one.
To learn the green light, yellow light, and red light readings for your blood pressure, click here.
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Many people say that depression is a side effect or complication of diabetes. Without discounting the association of the psychological condition with the physical one, I'm not convinced that our high and/or unstable glucose levels are directly responsible for that change in our mental state. My belief is that the unrelenting need for self-care, for following the sort of care schedules that can drive licensed, professional caregivers crazy, is what overwhelms us...