A Conversation for Diabetes - a Personal Perspective
Amanda Started conversation Jul 13, 1999
Thank you for writing this article. I have been trying to get the word out to others about diabetes for nearly a decade now - especially to kids with Juvenile, or Type I, diabetes. I'm not medically trained in this subject, but have lived with diabetes all my life - in the form of my father.
My dad was diagnosed with Type I when he was 18 yrs. old, went on to marry and have kids, and could have had a completely normal and healthy life - had he only followed a few of the rules set for diabetics. Unfortunately, he was reckless with his care from fairly early on and is now suffering the consequences. Some of the most genuinely scary moments for me as a child involved my father's disease. Or the side affects, rather. As you said in your article, low blood sugar in diabetics can create all types of bodilly changes, ranging from the physical to the emotional. My father's mood swings were often intolerable, and the four diabetic comas he suffered (in ten years time) were traumatic.
He made an effort to pull his life and health back together a few years back, but it was too little too late. Over the past three years he has totally lost the sight in his left eye, and half the sight in his right, due to blood clots that formed on his retina (common in diabetics, so they say), and the laser treatments performed were just not enough. The "plaque" on his feet and lower legs (deadened skin caused by the lack of circulation suffered by many diabetics due to narrowed blood vessels and neuropathy) is begging the topic of amputation if they become infected once again. He recently underwent triple by-pass surgery, which inadvertantly may have been the best thing to happen to him - he now has no choice but to monitor his sugar-levels (implementing that 1500 rule!), regulate his diet and get some exercise. The consequences would be unthinkable.
Diabetics don't have to live like that. With a little care, a normal healthy life is relatively easy. Without negating this disorder, I've made an analogy to several young people facing a life with diabetes: When you're anemic, you must supplement with iron and a special diet. When faced with a condition like depression, you may have to supplement with psychoactive medications and counselling to stay mentaly and emotionally healthy. And diabetics must supplement with insulin and lead a healthy lifestyle in order to live properly. It's a part of their lives, but not their whole life. It doesn't dominate your world, but rather becomes rote and comfortable in time. Or should, anyway.
I appologize for this being so long-winded, but just one more thing. In the "Diabetes Feedback" forum, the topic of medical prejudice came up. I too have personally dealt with this, as I have lived with
an anxiety disorder and reactive hypogycemia for most of my life. Once, during a period of "dosage adjustment" (which many people will probably relate to), back when I was still on anti-anxiety medication, I suffered a panic attack brought on by the increased dosage of a seritonin reuptake inhibitor/ norepinephrine regulator. When I called my doctor, right smack in the middle of the episode, his assistant remarked sardonically from the other line, "Oh, you're a little anxious aren't you?" I had never been so angry in my life...nor insulted so greatly. Unfortuantely in every profession, even the medical field, there are those who just "don't get it". No problem should be regarded as "too small" or unimportant enough to deserve decent care and respect - especially from the point of the person coping with that problem.
Anyway, congratulations and thank you again for a great article and for getting the word out. I'm sure you've helped several people already!
Researcher 25958 Posted Jul 14, 1999
I have printed your posting so that I can read it thouroughly and reply in full , But can I say that in fact you should post the message as a page of your own , It is interesting , informative and very well written , I wish I could have expressed myself like that , By the way have you read Diabetes 2 - Becoming a Diabetic .
I want to thank you for sharing with all who read the page , I feel for you , your experience was traumatic , Lets make sure ignorance is wiped out !
Amanda Posted Jul 18, 1999
Thank you. With a disease like diabetes I think it's incredibly important to show both sides of the coin - The life one can have if they take care of themself and the alternative which can be difficult for the person suffering and everyone who loves them. My dad is doing really well now, considering, but I still wish he'd taken better care and then we'd have so much more quality time together. But I guess this is better than not having him around at all.
Both of your articles are informative, but Diabetes 2 is really moving! I wish you the best of luck with your health and your personal life. And thanks again for being one of the wonderful people to speak out on this disease.
Researcher MrMondayMorning Posted Nov 21, 1999
Yes, life can be hard for a diabetic. You mentioned neuropathy. Well people should know what this means: neuropathy means your nervoussystem is damaged. This has a lot of consequences with deadened skin just one of them. My wife is suffering from neuropathy altough not caused by diabetes but by lack of vitamin B1.
A small list of some of the sympthoms (not all of them, the list is too long!):
- deadened skin
- she can't feal where her feat or hands are
- she wakes up in the middle of the night screaming from pain
- random pains from any part of her body
- she almost can't speak anymore
- she can't hold anything in her hands
- she can't stand, and only can sit when someone holds here
- problems with sight. double sight, blurred sight etc.
- she hasn't any feeling in her private parts and has to wear dipers
- she can't wash herself
- she can't feel the difference between a needle and a ball
- she can't swallow food very well and has to eat porridge
- uncontrolable movements from her muscles. often her hand hits her in the face.
- by the time you notice the first sympthoms your already too late
- you can get it very quick. recovering (if you recover at all) is very slow.
Neuropathy is called the 'silent disease'. Many doctors and even patients suffering from it don't know about it.
10% of the diabetics have a form of neuropathy.
Alcoholics are often struck by it.
In the US 2000000 people are suffering from it.
Believe me, it is hell on earth!
Lilithpos Posted Apr 17, 2000
Thank you for writing of your wife's current problems.
I have many questions regarding neuropathy. I have a friend who has it, and says that he can't feel his feet and has carpal tunnel syndrome in his wrists.
What are the first noticeable symptoms?
Could the growing tendency to transpose letters when typing be one of them? Neuro of course means "brain" and I am wondering how one begins to suspect that one is showing symptoms of neuropathy.
After eating a large very sweet deep dish peach pie topped with ice cream would a blood reading of 128 be high? (Approximately 1 hour after ingestion of desert?)
Bless you for all the care you must be taking of your wife. My husband has Parkinsonism Syndrome (Possibly Shy Drager Syndrome), so I can relate to what you are experiencing.
Thank you , Lilithpos
Researcher MrMondayMorning Posted Apr 24, 2000
Well both pain and numbness in hands and/or feet can be one of the first signs. People with diabetes often have trouble with their sight (seeing blurred and doublevision). In any of this cases you take it to your doctor a.s.a.p. We certainly waited too long before we got profesional help.
The loss of feeling in hand and feet is not to be taken too lightly!
In the Netherlands recently a campaign has started to educate people suffering from this. Just like anybody else you wound yourselves once in a while. But if you dont feel these little wounds under your feet or hand they easily are overlooked and you can get an infection without even knowing you have a little wound. People with little or no feeling are advised to go to the hospital each month to have their feet checked. For those of you who cant walk, ask the people who care for you to check your feet regularly. They started the campaign because several people had had toes, fingers and some an entire foot amputated and all of these cases could have been prevented by simply having somebody checking your feet and hands on a regular basis.
A neuropathy is not a disease but is more a specification of one of the results of an underlying problem: with a diabetic the diabetes is the disease and can cause a neuropathy. In the case of my wife it was a vitamin B1 shortage. This shortage was caused by use of alcohol (note the doctor told us the amount she drank would normally cause no problems), bad eating habbits and after 6 months the medics finally admitted there has to be an additional cause they havent found yet, because they cant explain the speed at which her nervesystem was damaged just with the alcohol and eating habbits.
The neuropathy itself can also have several forms:
A nerve is a long wire connecting the 'sensors' and muscles in your body to your brain. The wire's core can be damaged giving a bad connection... Also the shielding of the wire can be damaged. This also gives a bad connection. Unfortunatly the noise on the line presents itself in the brain as pain. For the signals going in the other direction. My wife's body is shacking and rocking even when she sleeps.
Obviously this all has much effect on the treatment of the disease. So I cant give you much direct advises about treatment.
The best resource for information about neuropathy I found is www.neuropathy.org
About the peach pie: sounds deliceous!
Best wishes for you, your husband and your friend!
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