My Diabetes Inklings

Diabetes is not me.

Diabetes is a pretty serious condition. The complications are endless and does not spare any part of your body. There’s diabetic retinopathy, gastroparesis, diabetic neuropathy, kidney disease…the list goes on. Basically, you could put the word ‘diabetic’ in front of any condition and it would be legit. Otherwise it would be hidden within risk factors for developing certain other conditions.

As a person living with diabetes, I understand this. This has been drilled into us, since our diagnosis. Time and time again, we are are threatened with a foot ulcer and amputation if we don’t get our diabetes in check. Thanks for the morbid and depressing reminder.

Recently, as part of my dietetics course, I’ve been out to various hospital sites for study days where we focus on a particular condition such as renal disease, oncology, gastro, aged care, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, etc. Most weeks, I sit through lectures and an occasional thing about diabetes will crop up. Yesterday, I heard something that made my stomach burn and my blood boil. ‘People with diabetes, once they get complications, they don’t have much to look forward to.’

Cue inner hulk taking over. I was speechless.

I know of inspirational people who have turned their lives around since complications. For them, that was their wake up call. They know how they are lucky to be where they are today. Of course, the story that comes to mind is one of #simonpalooza. Look up the hashtag on twitter. Or watch a short video of it here. Simon is one of the co-founders of OzDOC, along with Kim and Renza. He’s been through a lot in diabetes land and is now still happily quoting 80’s music whilst wearing cargo pants because of the diabetes online community. Complications are not the end of the world.

It’s sad to see that some healthcare professionals have become so desensitised to the conditions they work with. Well, at least it certainly comes across that way when they stand up in front us to talk about it. I sincerely hope that they are more empathetic with their patients. I have heard of healthcare professionals who are amazing at their work with patients but are extremely difficult to work with in a team setting or give terrible presentations. I guess everyone has their own strengths.

This has got me thinking about several things. Why are they so negative about chronic health conditions? Yes, there are bad repercussions, but it seems like most healthcare professionals define a person by their health status. It’s all doom and gloom for them, particularly when it comes to diabetes. You can literally see all these light bulbs flash off with all the related complications and relevant social history of the person. It’s so easy to judge and assume, it’s hard work to really get to know the nuts and bolts of a person. Building good repoire is so important. This has been continuously drilled into us, dietetic students, week in and week out and I can see how it can be the difference between successful management of a chronic condition or disinterest and disengagement.

Just as we don’t define a person by their chronic disease, diabetes does not define me. It is a part of me and people have to know that being diagnosed with a chronic illness is not the end of the world. Nothing can hold us back to achieve the dreams and goals we set out to accomplish. There may be road blocks and detours along the way, but do not let anything defeat you. You can do it! I can do it! We can do it! 🙂

5 thoughts on “Diabetes is not me.”

  1. what?! “they don’t have much to look forward to”?! Ash I’m glad there’s someone like you going into healthcare (right?), because that single sentence makes me upset 😡 some of my best friends are studying to be HCPs, and I’m so happy that I’m there sometimes to say “No, a diabetic pregnancy ISN’T hopeless” and “No, I’m not guaranteed to die 20 years before you”.

    WE CAN DO IT!

  2. Wow – that would have pissed me off, too.

    Simon is a great example of leading a great life no matter what diabetes throws at us. I’m glad you’ll be part of the new wave.

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