Lately, I've been coming face-to-face with the scary stuff: long-term complications of diabetes. Those of us who haven't experienced them tend to think that developing complications is the end of the world. Wrong.
For a project I'm working on, I've been interviewing people all over the country living with neuropathy, kidney disease, eye disease, heart disease, gastroparesis -- you name it. And I've learned some very valuable lessons. Please take a read in the March edition of my Straight Up column over at dLife.com.
A couple of noteworthy notes on complications:
As many as 20-30% of American adults have already developed microvascular complications at the time of clinical diagnosis, according to the journal Diabetes Care. Yipes!
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"Complications are a like grief process, like a death —- you go through stages of denial to acceptance," says Shawn Faulk, a Type 1 diabetic living with complications herself. She's also a CDE at Sharp Healthcare in San Diego, CA. "When I see patients, I want to find out where they are. Often they either feel helpless — like 'it's inevitable, I can't do anything' -— or they're just so depressed about their loss and the changes in themselves that this paralyzes them."
FINDING THE RIGHT CARE
"There is such a thing as living well with complications... This is such an overlooked area in diabetes care," says Susan Guzman of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute in San Diego. "We try to bring a message of hope to people that it's never too late to start taking better care of yourself."
Are you living with complications? I'd love to hear from you. It's isolating enough just having the 'betes, but many people tell me that complications compound the feelings of failure. How are you managing with any damage that diabetes has already done?