This is one of those creations from my quirky 9-year-old that I just had to post. This was meant to be the "rules for upstairs" in our house:
Kind of makes a great credo for certain circumstances in life, ay? Except that the eating and drinking parts are often prerequisites for No. 4 ;)
But what I actually wanted to talk about today in the wake of Friday's World Diabetes Day awareness bonanza was the Rules for Engagement for avoiding complications of diabetes. "Complications" is of course a medical euphemism for all the ugly damage diabetes can do if it isn't properly controlled over the long-term.
Whoever subscribes to Diabetic Living magazine may have seen the eight-page feature story I wrote on this topic in the newest Winter 2008 edition (starting on page 31 and with fabulous illustrations by Jen Renninger!). Unfortunately, they don't have the full article in all its layout glory posted online, but you can view the story in an online "slide show version" titled "How to Avoid Diabetes Complications."
The article was a labor of love over many months and was intended to cover the full spectrum of the what, why, where and how of diabetes complications:
What / Why?
"When blood glucose is high, over time it causes blood vessels to become inflamed. High blood glucose accelerates the buildup of a waxy, fatty substance called plaque inside the vessels. Inflammation and plaque narrow and can block the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. This causes damage to the body in a slow, gradual process."
The four main areas in your body effected are the:
- Heart: Heart damage includes cardiovascular disease, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Eyes: Eye damage includes loss of vision from retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts.
- Kidneys: Kidney damage includes kidney disease or nephropathy and kidney failure.
- Feet and Limbs: Nerve damage, or neuropathy, in the feet and lower limbs can lead to loss of sensation and/or development of nerve pain. Lack of sensation, along with poor circulation, increases the risk of infections and foot ulcers that may require partial amputation. Nerve damage also affects the digestive system and sexual organs.
The most important part here — as in, how can you avoid all this?
First, keep your blood glucose in range as best you can.
Next, read slides 7-14 starting here for step-by-step instructions on how to protect your heart, eyes, kidneys, and feet.
And also — not to be overlooked — know your results for each of the five key tests for diabetes health.
Download a cheat sheet for your next doctor's checkup here, or see below where I've actually posted the document.
Lastly, stay on it. Avoiding complications is not a one-time deal. It's monthly, weekly, daily. I just sayin': we have to think beyond the immediate numbers we get on our BG meters every day. Now go read the checklist, please.