By Kathy Hubbard
“I may need to go on insulin and I’m scared,” wrote a young man on a diabetes forum site. One of the women who answered said that she sobbed through her entire doctor’s appointment while being shown how to give herself an injection. In her words, it turned out to be a “no biggie.”
“It hurts less than a lancet. In fact, it really doesn’t hurt at all,” she wrote.
What are people afraid of when it comes to being prescribed insulin? Many things. And those things will be the topic of conversation on Tuesday, September 8 at 10 a.m. in the classroom of Bonner General Health (520 N. 3rd Avenue).
The presenter, Norma Cannon, is a diabetic. She is also one of the A1C Champions who bring diabetes management training to communities like ours. Her “been there, done that” experience gives her the ability to counsel, console and inspire diabetes patients.
If you would like to attend this free, one-hour session, please call BGH Diabetes Education at 208-265-1116 to register.
The key facts, according to American Diabetes Association are that 29.1 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes. That’s 9.3 percent of the population.
Of those diagnosed, only five percent has type 1 diabetes. Roughly one to five percent has another rare type of the disease while at least 90 percent has type 2 diabetes.
Let’s let the ADA explain the difference. “Inside the pancreas, beta cells make the hormone insulin. With each meal, beta cells release insulin to help the body use or store the blood glucose it gets from food.
“In people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin. The beta cells have been destroyed and they need insulin shots to use glucose from meals.
“People with type 2 diabetes make insulin, but their bodies don’t respond well to it. Some people with type 2 diabetes need diabetes pills or insulin shots to help their bodies use glucose for energy.
“Insulin cannot be taken as a pill because it would be broken down during digestion just like the protein in food. It must be injected into the fat under your skin for it to get into your blood.”
Complications of untreated diabetes can be debilitating and costly. Hospitalization for heart attacks and strokes were 1.8 and 1.5 percent higher respectively among adults with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy (loss of vision), kidney failure, hearing loss and mild to severe forms of neuropathy (weakness, numbness and pain usually in the hands and feet) contribute to the $245 billion spent annually on diabetes diagnosis and care.
One in ten healthcare dollars is spent treating diabetes and its complications. One in five health care dollars is spent caring for people with diabetes.
And, it gets worse. “More than 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes,” ADA says. “Diabetes kills more Americans every year than AIDS and breast cancer combined.”
The ADA estimates that as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes by 2050 if present trends continue. But, we can stop or at least slow it down. 85.2 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.
A healthy diet, weight and exercise plan can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. As can quitting smoking and lowering your blood pressure. The ADA has a quick risk test on their website, www.diabetes.org, but nothing will beat talking to your healthcare professional about your chances for developing the disease.
Hopefully, you can see the importance of managing your diabetes. You have some options. Come hear Cannon’s presentation and see if the information doesn’t change your opinion or reinforce your knowledge about what your options are. Remember, you are the most important member of your healthcare team.
Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at 264-4029 or firstname.lastname@example.org.