The phone rang in my kitchen, back when I actually answered my house phone and my cell phone stayed in my purse all day. It was my aunt on the other end, my father’s older sister. She began to tell me that my uncle was in the hospital with Congestive Heart Failure. They just told him that he may need to go on insulin to control his Type 2 diabetes. I could hear the concern and worry in my aunt’s voice and I could imagine that my uncle was feeling nervous, anxious and possibly scared about this alarming news.
I knew my uncle had diabetes. He had been diagnosed about five years before and he was by all accounts a good patient. When he was diagnosed, his doctor explained that he needed to exercise, lose weight and cut out sugar. He did all those things and was still going to the gym multiple times a week, while maybe sneaking a cookie here or there. My aunt was his supporter in sickness and in health.
I am a registered dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, which is most likely why my aunt called me after having the conversation with my uncle’s doctor. I started to explain that although my uncle did as his doctor instructed, his pancreas’s insulin producing cells had slowed down over time and his body wasn’t able to make as much insulin as it once did. The insulin his body still did produce, just was not working very well (this is called insulin resistance). When insulin is injected, it gives his body a boost of insulin, since his body can’t produce it as well anymore. I told her that they would probably start him on a long-acting insulin and that he would be okay.
Through my years as a diabetes educator, I have found that most people just want to know that they, or their loved one, will be okay.
I have found this advice to be the same on other occasions. Once on a family vacation, I received a call from a friend who lived in New York. His two-year-old girl had just been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and she was in the hospital. He didn’t know who else to call. I was familiar with the hospital and told him that she would receive very good care there. Then I said, “She will be okay”. With those four words, I could hear the relief in his voice. He was afraid for his young daughter in the hospital and hearing that one sentence brought some peace to a scary situation.
Chronic conditions like diabetes, either Type 1 or Type 2, are life changing. Having to give yourself a shot every day can be overwhelming, frightening or even depressing for some. There are many facets to living well with diabetes, but I believe the biggest factor is support, whether it comes from family, friends, other persons with diabetes, doctors, nurses, blogs or diabetes educators.
Feeling supported is the key to success.
Today I am happy to report that my uncle is doing great with his diabetes, 12 years after starting insulin. And my friend’s daughter is running races to raise awareness and funds to help find a cure for diabetes.
Cecelia Health Diabetes Health Coach