I heard you were recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, and that you may have some mixed emotions right now (sadness, shock, anger, guilt, shame, denial, grief, fear, just to name a few...), and I just wanted to let you to know that it's OKAY to feel the way you do. Life, invariably, takes us through periods of transition, of growth, of personal reflections in which we must face, not just who we are, but our own mortality as well. This is a normal part of life: it's called the human equation. It can be frightening, to say the least... but you are NOT alone. No matter how "perfect" some of us humans may seem, we ALL go through this. Life plays no favorites.
No doubt you are already searching the internet left and right for all manner of information on how to best care for your diabetes, and may even have already developed a plan of action. If you are like most Type 2 patients, your doctor probably put you on a course of Glucophage/Metformin, without many other indications, and just sent you on your way. This is very typical. At least, here in America, most doctors really don't sit down with patients to find and discover what their needs are, what their BEST tools for diabetes management should be, what their individualized blood glucose goals should be, nor what their OVERALL TREATMENT GOAL should be.
I want to commend you for taking the initiative to take the upper hand in managing your condition. It takes guts to face a chronic health condition, and take a long hard look at ourselves, and what may need changing. With that in mind, I want to warn you... that while there are many voices of reason out here, in the internet, and many well meaning voices, there are also many confusing messages. Now, I'm not trying to say here, in any way, that you shouldn't do your own homework... oh, no! We would be in a hard place, as Type 2 Diabetics, without the internet. PLEASE DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
What I am trying to do, though, is put it all into a little perspective for you.
You see, the voices of the internet are many...
Some are naive, uneducated, patients... optimistic, and with their hopes misplaced.
Some are well intentioned, go-getters, who may see the world as one of "black and white" solutions.
Some are from the "ignorance is bliss" bunch. They never, ever, question their doctor, or dietitian, ever.
Some are trying to sell you something -- a book, a diet, a supplement, an exercise regimen or way of life, etc.
Some are the naive, uneducated, misguided, optimistic patients, mentioned above, who have fallen for the ones who were trying to sell you something...
Some are patients, who like you or I, started with little... and have now lived with this disease for many, many years. They have seen the good, the bad, the ugly, the unrealistic and unhelpful, and the scams... They are healthy, they live and thrive, WITH diabetes, and they are doing just fine. (Latch on to these people.)
...and while they all have different agendas, they are ALL trying to tell you exactly what your doctor should have sat down, and told you:
- What your BEST tools for diabetes management should be;
- What your individualized blood glucose goal should be; and
- What your overall TREATMENT GOAL should be.
Now, we are ALL different... And I cannot, and will NOT pretend to tell you what your BEST tools should be, or what your individualized blood glucose goals should be. And NO ONE should, either. Your health is different than mine. You may have more challenging health hurdles to clear than I have, or you may not. And you should DEMAND to discuss this with your doctor, at length, based on your own research. As they say, your diabetic mile may vary. Your shoes, your trail, your journey.
There is one thing, though... that I can UNEQUIVOCALLY tell you: What your treatment goal should be.
Let's start by what your treatment goal is definitely NOT:
- Getting off of oral medications
- Getting off of insulin or avoiding it
- Losing weight
- "Reversing" diabetes
The first three are POTENTIAL symptoms of what your unequivocal, overall goal should be. The last one is a fallacy, and a buzz word. One may potentially "reverse" some symptoms and complications of diabetes, but not the diabetes itself. People claim there's much debate on this, but there really isn't... Just watch as this M.D. sidesteps the entire term, in this Q&A column: http://health.msn.com/health-topics/diabetes/taming-diabetes. But I digress...
We focus far too much on the pretending we can cure diabetes, especially by avoiding the "evils" of oral medications, and the "evils" of insulin, or the "evils of being overweight," to understand that this one goal far outweighs them all...
That goal is GOOD GLUCOSE CONTROL.
In your war on diabetes, THIS IS the goal. IT. IS. THE. GOAL.
Do not lose perspective. Do not feel discouraged, and give up, if you have weight to lose, and you haven't lost all of it...
Do not avoid seeking help, if you need it. While many medications have their downsides, and side effects, they also have some upsides, and they are not a shame or a failure, when needed. If after changing your lifestyle, diet, fitness regimen, eaten nothing but chia seeds for two weeks, ran marathons, etc, etc... you find that you still have blood glucose control issues... it's OKAY. Explore your treatment options with your doctor.
STOP FIGHTING THE WRONG BATTLE.
We age, life passes by... This disease is progressive. Should the heart patient feel bad for taking lithium? Should the cancer patient feel shame for needing chemotherapy? NO. Of course not!
The enemy here is the heart disease, the cancer, the HIGH BLOOD SUGAR. Do not let yourself stay in a state of danger because you were pushing for the WRONG goals...
Remember... Your shoes, your trail, your journey. Your diabetic mile may vary... But your number one, overall, UNEQUIVOCAL, treatment goal... will NOT.