I’ve been trying to write something for days now. I have lots on my mind, so there’s no shortage of ideas, but trying to articulate them is another story all together.
For those of you with diabetes, regardless of type, I am not about to say anything new or revolutionary. For those of you who don’t, some of these statistics may shock you. If they don’t, they should.
An estimated 285 million people worldwide are affected by diabetes. With a further 7 million people developing diabetes each year, this number is expected to hit 438 million by 2030.
Today, more than 9 million Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes.
Approximately 10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. The number of people with type 2 diabetes is increasing dramatically due to a number of factors:
- The population is aging.
- Obesity rates are rising.
- Canadian lifestyles are increasingly sedentary.
- Aboriginal people are three to five times more likely than the general population to develop type 2 diabetes.
- Almost 80% of new Canadians come from populations that are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. These include people of Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian or African descent.
The personal costs of diabetes may include a reduced quality of life and the increased likelihood of complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, amputation and erectile dysfunction.
- Approximately 80% of people with diabetes will die as a result of heart disease or stroke.
- Diabetes is a contributing factor in the deaths of approximately 41,500 Canadians each year.
- Canadian adults with diabetes are twice as likely to die prematurely, compared to people without diabetes.
- Life expectancy for people with type 1 diabetes may be shortened by as much as 15 years. Life expectancy for people with type 2 diabetes may be shortened by 5 to 10 years.
The financial burden of diabetes and its complications is enormous.
- People with diabetes incur medical costs that are two to three times higher than those without diabetes. A person with diabetes can face direct costs for medication and supplies ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 a year.
- By 2020, it’s estimated that diabetes will cost the Canadian healthcare system $16.9 billion a year.¹
When I was diagnosed, a whole seven weeks ago, this was the information I was reading. It comes as no surprise to me that 25% of all diabetics are also dealing with depression. These numbers go well beyond the, “No more pedicures!” and “Eat less, move more!” information that was supplied to me by the medical professionals. Reading all of this made me depressed. It also made me angry.
I read on a blog, the other day, that an individual who had been diagnosed had gone through this horrible period of adjustment that his medical team had equated to mourning a loss. That’s exactly what I had been thinking and, I must confess, that it was nice to see validation from someone else.
For the newly diagnosed, there has to be time allowed to mourn the loss of the spontaneity in life, especially when it comes to food and drink. There also needs to be a degree of understanding, or compassion, that we’re not all mourning that we’ll never be able to eat poutine again, or that we’ll have to give up whatever sinful food you want to come up with. For me, and I’ve mentioned this before, it’s hard to grasp that, seemingly healthy foods are messing with my blood sugar. Bananas and pineapple should not be seen as evil, and yet, I know I shouldn’t really be partaking in them.
But more importantly, at least in my humble opinion, the medical profession needs to look at each new case of diabetes and treat them equally and not making the assumption that dropping a diagnosis on someone and providing the sage medical advice of “Diet and exercise” will suffice.
I am eternally grateful, at least right now, that my diabetes isn’t being controlled with oral medications and / or insulin. I do take low dosage meds for high blood pressure and cholesterol, but they are low dosage. Would this not be an excellent time, as a medical professional, to talk to me and see what I’m feeling about all of this and how I can become one less statistic?
I have no intention of adding myself to the litany of statistics posted by the Canadian Diabetes Association.
I do have every intention of utilizing all the resources that are supposed to be made available to me – ophthalmologist, dietician, CDE, anyone else who wishes to participate in my health – so that I am not the burden to society that diabetics are made to feel. So that I am not the poster child of the middle aged, obese diabetic. Nor will I be the depressed diabetic in need of meds just to get happy.
I can’t do this alone. I do need help, and resources, and I’m not afraid to admit that, but I am not prepared to be set adrift to figure this out on my own and hope for the best.
I want to write a piece that gives hope to newly diagnosed diabetics. I want to be a person that can show someone else that it’s not all doom and gloom and that there are really good people out there that are trained to help diabetics adapt to a new lifestyle.
I want to be the sort of person that I came across on other blogs, the diabetics, regardless of type, who told me that it is a difficult adjustment but that it does get easier. That shared what knowledge they had and have been so patient in listening to me rant.
So now to plan for the next steps. Buckle up kids, this could get messy!
¹ Canadian Diabetes Association – The prevalence and cost of diabetes.