The Type 2 Safety Net
Diabetes support has a huge impact on our overall health.
By Travis Grubbs
March 2009 — One of my childhood memories is of going to the circus. I am not talking about a big professional circus, like Ringling Brothers, but one of those smaller generic versions (think low-budget). The whole operation was pretty bare bones. I can still recall a female performer, in her "death-defying" feat, as she walked across a tight rope some 50 feet in the air. Below her were three scruffy looking male circus workers (think carnival workers), serving as her safety net as they walked beneath her while looking upward.
Two thoughts occurred to my ten-year-old mind:
1. If she fell, the guys below were probably going to get hurt as they tried to break her fall. I was glad I wasn't one of them.
2. Safety nets must be really expensive since the circus didn't have one and instead put the workers (as well as the performer) at risk.
Fortunately for all concerned, the "death-defying" diva made it safely to the other side! We all cheered, and I suspect that the "human safety net" was relieved as well.
Thirty six years later I have another perspective of the term "safety net." I see one's diabetes support network as a safety net, which is comprised of ones doctor, pharmacist, other medical personnel, family, friends, and other diabetes support groups. While each segment of the net is important, I am of the opinion that the support garnered from family and friends has the greatest impact on one's attitude and mental well being. It is this segment that "lives with you," sees you when you are up and down, and knows you the best.
If this segment is truly supportive, it listens to your problems and frustrations. It encourages and motivates you when you are discouraged, and lets you know that you are not in this battle by yourself. My wife fills that role for me.
However, family and friends are not always supportive. I recently came across postings at two different diabetes social networks where the authors were writing about the lack of diabetes support they were receiving from their families.
One guy was having hard time with his wife accepting the fact that he was determined to eat less, exercise, and lose weight in his effort to help control his type 2 diabetes. It seems that his wife has her own weight control issues and does not want him to become fit and trim. Never mind he risks losing his eyes, kidneys, etc. if he remains "as is."
One woman was faced with the challenge of cooking separate meals at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She is to prepare a diabetic meal for herself and a normal meal for her husband and kids. It seems her family has decided that they want to continue eating the same fare that helped lead to her type 2 diagnosis. I would love to see a picture of this family. I suspect they all have full (or chubby) faces and bulging bellies, just like I did before my type 2 diagnosis.
What do you do if you don't get support at home or from your friends, or want to expand your own safety net?
First, I suggest talking to your family and friends about your chronic condition. Educate them on what you are facing, how they can help you, and how much you need them.
Second, see if your local hospital has a diabetes support group. If they don't, think about starting one yourself. I am in a great diabetes support group at my local hospital.
Third, get hooked up with some of the various on-line diabetes communities. My favorites include TuDiabetes, My Diabetes Central, and Diabetes Rockstar. And now (drum roll) dLife is getting into act! Check out the new dLife diabetes online community. These sites are a great resource for connecting with others dealing with their own diabetic challenges.
I encourage you to build a strong safety net. There will be times when you will need it, and will appreciate its presence. I have definitely benefited from, and appreciated, mine.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
Diabetes Drug Shows Promise in the Treatment of Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis
Two New LDL Cholesterol Drugs May Have Big Impact on Heart Disease
COBA Conference Steers Forward in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity
Google Secures Patent for Glucose-Sensing Contact Lens
Medtronic to Use GlucoSitter Artificial Pancreas Software in Future Insulin Pumps - A Big Deal!
Ricotta Strudel Creamy Chicken and Vegetables Glazed Carrots with Green Olives Lamb Chops and Peppers Soda Bread Carrot Pudding Shrimp Curry Hamburger Dip Tenderloin Mexicana steak Herb Basted Chicken
My diabetes is changing. Until a few years ago, my morning readings were reasonable and within the desired range of under 100 mg/dl. About two years ago, they started slipping upwards into the less-desirable but apparently not-worrisome range of 100-110 mg/dl. Now, this was what was recorded by my Abbott Freestyle Lite meter, which is known to record at the lower end of the home-glucometer variability range, but with my A1c firmly in the high 5s and low 6s, the meter's tendency to...