Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Heard a Sad Story the Other Day...

*Photo courtesy of*

My purpose for starting this blog was to inform, inspire, and encourage those affected by diabetes. This could be you or someone you love. 

The simple fact is diabetes affects 25.8 million people of ALL ages in the United States alone. Thats 8.3 percent of the population. Diagnosed cases in 2010 was 18.8 million people. Another 7.0 million people in our country are living with diabetes undiagnosed.

About 1.9 million people ages 20 years or older were newly diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 in the United States.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower-limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States.
  • Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke.
  • Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
  • About 215,000 people younger than 20 years had diabetes - type 1 or type 2 - in the United States in 2010.
(Information obtained by the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse)

Wow. I need a moment to wrap my head around those figures.

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Those statistics give me reason to pause and wonder what is going on? Is something in our food causing this epidemic rate of diabetes? Obviously, obesity is not the only reason a person gets diabetes. 

My son was 7 years old and weighed 54 pounds when he was diagnosed.

So, now for my sobering story.

Someone was asking me how my son was doing since his diagnosis with juvenile diabetes. She then told me about a mom she'd recently spoken to whose 12-year-old daughter has been in the hospital for two weeks. She was just diagnosed with diabetes. 

She had a wound that wasn't healing and was badly infected. When she went to the hospital, she found it was far worse than a bad infection.

She had advanced diabetes. 

Her mother, raising four children on her own, had no idea her daughter was so sick. If someone hasn't grown up with a family history of diabetes, the symptoms can be easily overlooked.

She reported that her daughter was tired a lot, but she would attend school regularly, come home and go to sleep. She was also thirsty a lot. 

Why would anyone suspect that their 12-year-old daughter had diabetes if there is no family history of it?

Having had a diabetic grandmother, father, and best friend; along with myself recently being diagnosed, I had my diabetic radar on at full throttle. The symptoms my son exhibited were familiar to me and I was fortunate enough to catch it in time.

But what is the prognosis for this young girl whose diabetes has gone on for an undetermined amount of time?

She has a colostomy bag that she will have for the rest of her life. I do not know what other complications she has, but I was told that her attitude is good and she is taking an active part in her care and treatment.

My thoughts are these; with diabetes racing to the top of the charts for death and complications, we all need to take a more active role in combating this disease. Diabetes is SERIOUS and the complications numerous and irreversible. It is also a random attacker and the person afflicted is NOT TO BLAME! Believe me, I've heard people say that people with diabetes should pay higher insurance rates. Their reasoning was it's their fault for obesity. They were upset that the insurance rates of smokers was on the rise. This was their justification for their statement.

Listen up!

Smoking is a choice, diabetes is not!

So, why not do something proactive. How about yearly school screenings for diabetes. What can it cost to do a dip-stick test on a child? Pennies a piece? I'd vote yes for my tax dollars to be spent on this inexpensive testing. If it saves one child, it is money well spent. 

I'm not trying to cause a public panic, but perhaps we do need a wake up call.  Better education is needed to alert people about this disease. If I've learned anything about diabetes the past few years, it's that ignorance abounds when it comes to the topic - even among medical professionals.

I visited my endocrinologist last week. She said that the doctor had just returned from a conference on diabetes at Cleveland Clinic. They shared that diabetes is becoming so prevalent, more research is being done. Physicians and researchers are taking notice.

So should we.

Please. I cannot emphasis this enough. Watch for symptoms of diabetes. They include; extreme thirst, frequent urination, dry skin, blurred vision, hunger - yet no weight gain, and a wound that won't heal. 
(This list reflects only a few of the symptoms)

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