About 50 to 70 years ago and years before that, it was certain death for a child to have Type 1 diabetes and for people who developed Type 2. In recent years it has been possible to provide care that helps people with diabetes. Many are now able to live a normal life by keeping the diabetes under control.
There are a large number of complications as a result of diabetes, including death. Some of these complications have been reduced as a result of better education and care. It is no longer the death sentence it was at one time for many in this and in other developed countries.
Nevertheless, much of the world has no access to treatment of diabetes. In those areas, people with diabetes soon die. They do not have what they need. To add to that, people in much of the world do not have refrigeration for the insulin. A great deal is being done, but more efforts are needed, worldwide, to keep diabetes under control and to give more people a better quality of life.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month and it seems appropriate to once again visit with you about this disease. There are approximately 21 million Americans who have diabetes; 6.2 million do not know that they have it. This figure keeps increasing. We all are aware of many people being diagnose with diabetes. Add to this large number an additional 54 million who are pre-diabetic. These people with proper diets and exercise may be able to head off the diabetes. Folks, we have an epidemic in our country and it is going to become an even greater problem for our health system.
The problem is not limited to our country, but it is world wide. It is estimated that approximately 5.9 percent of the world population has diabetes.
November 14 was selected as the United Nations World Day. This day is being observed to encourage member nations to take up the fight.
It is really difficult to keep diabetes under control. It will vary from one person to another. Some are able to maintain good control, while others have a difficult time. The problem is that many with diabetes ignore it and do not make any effort to control the disease. For them it will be only a matter of time before complications will set in.
The results of a recent study by the University of Missouri indicated that exercise is more important than diet in keeping diabetes under control. While we see many people exercising -- even that may be difficult to do -- many do not have any exercise program at all. Most of us need to improve our exercise program. An effort needs to be made to work it into the schedule; the benefits make it well worth while.
It has been a little more than 10 years since my physician told me that I am a diabetic. This is my experience in life and I will admit it is a struggle. Still, a person needs to feel thankful in all situations and I am thankful that I have been able to, with the grace of God, keep the diabetes under control as well as I do. It needs to be kept in even better control.
As I have stated before, I do not want anybody feeling sorry for me, but I attempt to keep you informed on what is happening. The goal is to keep the A1C under 7, preferably 6.5. This is a blood test that measures the glucose over a two- to three-month period. The A1C for normal people is 4 to 6. The last two times, mine was 7.2 -- not good enough.
Many diabetics do not have any idea what their AIC is -- they are not even aware of the test. The other day one person said that his was very high two years ago, but now is 6.2. He was successful in turning it around. That is amazing. Each one tenth of the reading raises the risk of complications considerably.
Recently, Marylyn and I attended a diabetic education program at Mid-America Diabetes Associate at Wichita, Kan. When attending a program of this type, it is good to take someone with you, so they also can get the information. For people on Medicare, it is a two-day session. We both had a good learning experience. They are helpful with your diet, medication and other things relating to diabetes. I strongly recommend that all diabetics go and attend their program or attend an equivalent education program.
While there, I changed the insulin I was taking to a new type that is to give better control. One of the benefits is that it is more convenient to administer. It consists of two different types of insulin, one for 24 hours and the other before each meal. It is more expensive, but hopefully it is worth it. The jury is still out if it is better or not.
Many wonder what the glucose reading should be. The goal is to be below 110 in the mornings before breakfast and 120, two hours after each meal. It is not always easy to meet the goals.
Recently, during my visit with my physician, I showed him my glucose readings. It included a high reading (higher than 200) for the breakfast that morning -- I should have left that off and not showed him.
His comment was that many of my readings were results of my diet, but I try to eat properly. Yes, he was especially looking at the reading for that day's breakfast. I told him what I ate, which is a good normal breakfast.
His comment was, "Gosh Leonard, are you trying to save up for the winter?" The challenge remains -- limiting my intake of food to the recommended levels as presented at the education program in Wichita, exercising and taking my medication properly.