Today, March 27th, 2007, is designated by the ADA as American Diabetes Alert Day. According to the literature, they are "sounding the alert to the 60 million Americans who are unaware they have diabetes or are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes" -- which is a very important thing to do, given all those scary statistics:
- ca. 7% of the US population affected (20.8 million people)
- leading cause of new cases of blindness among American adults
- cause of more than 60% of "non-traumatic" amputations in the US
- fifth leading cause of death in this country
- etc., etc.
So on this day, the ADA is urging people to take the risk test -- to find out if they may be one of the estimated 6.2 million people (!) who have diabetes but don't know it yet... Bravo.
But what about those of us already diagnosed, living with Type 2 and Type 1? What about loved ones, and caregivers, and other friends and family who wish to help but may not know where to start? I ponder, what would I call their attention to, given one special day of especially intense visibility?
Help me out here, fellow PWDs...
At the risk of sounding self-serving, I think I'd shout from the rooftops about the Five Critical Health Factors we emphasize in our book. Because every single person affected by diabetes -- child, adult, caregiver, educator, family member and more -- needs to understand the importance of monitoring this stuff.
Diabetes complications don't happen overnight, but rather slowly and gradually, over a span of years during which we patients are often busy-busy with life in general, and may be feeling pretty darn good. But without monitoring your A1c, blood pressure, microalbumin, lipid levels, and eye health on a regular basis, you have no idea what damage may be occurring unseen and unnoticed.
In fact, looks like the Joslin Center also took this opportunity to reminds us to get our yearly eye exams.
And you know what else I'd wave a Red Flag over? All the positive new programs and offerings cropping up around this country for people with diabetes. If you are in any way affected by diabetes, and haven't checked these out before, you absolutely should:
dLife.com, Divabetic, Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD), The Behavioral Diabetes Institute (BDI), DiabetesTalkFest, The Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association (DESA), Insulin Factor, Team Type 1, and of course, the Diabetes OC (Online Community) -- now monitoring over 170 individuals blogging about diabetes. How many disease communities can say that?!