Ignoring the Symptoms of Diabetes Complications

When a health scare kicks your diabetes management back into gear

musicians with diabetesBy Kalimah Johnson

I went to the doctor yesterday and, quite frankly, it has been an interesting last two months in regards to my overall health. I traveled to Ghana, West Africa for 14 days, worked with the National Basketball Association for 5 days immediately upon my return to the United States, participated in a 15-mile bike tour, and I am now preparing to finally open up my non-profit organization. How do I feel? A little overwhelmed, to say the very least. Before I left for Africa I had noticed a sharp pain in my middle finger with redness and swelling. I thought I had hit it on something and thought with my trip to Africa I would have time to let it rest, because remember I am also a natural hair care stylist - I thought that doing hair was certainly complicating things. Well in Africa it got worst, and by the time I landed back in the States I knew I had to go to urgent care to have it looked at. I was told that I had an infection, and it looked pretty bad. They said if I did not have it treated immediately there could be some serious issues.

Now you might also recall that I am a bit anxious about amputations, circulation, and my type 2 status. Therefore, I was totally freaking out! The mistake I made was ignoring the pain and NOT having it looked at before I left for Africa for two weeks!!! The lesson here is to never ignore symptoms of any kind, especially as a type 2 diabetic! Our health and our physical standing is of the utmost importance and sometimes diabetes management can be quite challenging when we are traveling and busy and overwhelmed…and so on and so on.

Why do we ignore ourselves? Why did I ignore my symptoms? Fear, irresponsibility, and ego. That's why.

I have been free of having to take medication of any kind for my type 2 diabetes and I got beside myself. Hell, upon speaking to my doctor, I realized that I have not tested my blood sugar in two whole months! Shame and true telling is cathartic, so pardon me, but I must put myself on blast here! I had my A1c done and I am at a 6. Not bad…however, this finger scare made me rethink, recharge, and recommit myself by tracking my sugar numbers and eating a well-balanced diet. I ate so much fried food in Ghana that I gained 8 pounds! Therefore, I am actively eating more protein - broiled, baked and grilled meat - fruits and vegetables… as well as WATER! Plenty of water. I am honestly feeling better and I have more confidence related to my diabetes management, but it requires hard work and dedication! Prayer is important to me as well, so I have created a new routine of meditating and speaking with my God of understanding to guide me through tough times when I am challenged to put myself first.

Tomorrow, I am going to schedule my annual dental, eye, and breast exams, as well as a follow up for this finger, which is doing better but not totally healed (I am on antibiotics and hair locking hiatus). I am sure that you as the reader should know that when I take the necessary time out of my schedule to check in with my health and diabetes management, I feel so much better about my overall well-being. I hope you read this and get the lesson from my mistake of ignoring myself and allowing my finger drama to get totally out of control by trying to be superwoman. Especially in the African American community, we are rewarded for working our "asses (and fingers) to the bone" by our family, friends, and loved ones, and we love the accolades that come with it. But the bottom line is, if we don't take care of ourselves first and foremost, we can't serve anything - or for that matter anyone - else. Get checked on early and often and don't let the business or busy-ness get in the way of your health. Stay on top of your type 2 diabetes status! Get serious, stay focused, and know that I LOVE you like I LOVE myself!

Got it Sugar? Good.

Read more of Kalimah Johnson's columns, Get it Together, Sugar, here.

dLife's Daily Living columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: September 02, 2014

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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