So you or your parent has type 2 diabetes — but what does that mean for YOUR health? Learn more about prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and what your most important steps are for moving forward. I was compensated by Med-IQ through a grant from Sanofi US to write about type 2 diabetes. All opinions are my own.
I admit, I've put off truly thinking about my own family history of diabetes — and what it means for my health — for a long time . . .
I dreaded it. But deep down, I knew that eventually I would need to face the facts and take some action.
So when Med-IQ asked me to team up with them to help generate awareness around type 2 diabetes, the writing was on the wall . . . and I was ALL IN.
The truth is, I didn't realize just how much getting to write this diabetes education post would CHANGE MY PERSPECTIVE.
But. It. Did.
One of the first things I got to do was participate in a Q&A conference call with a diabetes specialist (Timothy S. Reid, MD, of Mercy Diabetes Center).
I now understand what prediabetes is and the importance of fostering a collaborative approach with one's healthcare provider when managing type 2 diabetes. Let me share a little bit of what I learned.
What does YOUR PARENTS having diabetes mean for YOU?
Prediabetes is a serious health condition affecting 1 out of 3 American adults. Are you one of them? Don’t let the “pre” in prediabetes fool you — if your parents have diabetes, you should get tested regularly for signs of glucose intolerance.
If you receive this diagnosis, you can make lifestyle and dietary changes to reverse the process. In fact, lifestyle changes are more powerful than medicine. For example, reducing your body weight by just 5%–7% and exercising for 30 minutes three times a week can reduce your risk factor by almost 60%.
What do I need to know if I have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes?
The most important goal of diabetes management is to control blood sugar in order to reduce long-term diabetes-related health complications. Yes, controlling your glycated hemoglobin (or A1C levels) is vital. However, after talking informally with Dr. Reid from the Mercy Diabetes Center, I realized that people recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes need to know these 3 important things:
1. Ensure you are surrounded by a TEAM of caring professionals.
An open line of communication with your doctor, nursing staff, and dietitian is imperative. You need to feel comfortable discussing treatment preferences and potential medication options. Finding the best solution to meet your UNIQUE needs might take a bit of time. You want a dedicated team of professionals who are willing to work with you to create the most appropriate management plan.
2. Be your own advocate (and bring a support person).
Play an active role in your own care. When you meet with your healthcare provider, come prepared with written questions and be ready to take notes. Consider bringing a family member or friend to serve as a support person. This should be someone who can help you fully understand all of your options and keep track of your goals. At these appointments, you'll receive a lot of detailed information to digest and remember. Two brains are better than one!
3. Know that control is achievable.
Coming up with a type 2 diabetes treatment plan is a complicated puzzle. Don't be afraid to ask for alternative options, to schedule follow-up appointments, or to reach out for clarification of your choices. Be willing to speak openly about your worries, frustrations, or even depression when dealing with the challenges of type 2 diabetes. It's important to remember that control is achievable when you put together the right puzzle pieces.
. . .
I want to pause here for a moment.
Can I admit something to you?
As a 40-something parent, when I saw "loss of limb" as a potential complication of ignoring type 2 diabetes, it seemed far-fetched to me. Like it was a medical scare tactic just used to convince people to take a diagnosis of diabetes more seriously.
But, this week when I spoke to my parents about our family history of diabetes, I learned that my Grandpa Bruno, who passed away before I was born, had his leg amputated at the knee because of type 2 diabetes complications. For real.
My dad spoke of his father's denial of the disease and how, in the end, my grandpa's lack of acceptance is what cost him his life at only 59 years old.
After my grandfather passed, my Grandma Gertrude — who took her diabetes very seriously — lived to the ripe old age of 89.
She was here for Sunday swims, winter snowmen, and weekend sleepovers with me.
She was here for my high school graduation, my wedding, and the birth of my two girls.
She was here to vacation in Hawaii, take a cruise to Alaska, and return home to visit Germany.
She was here to wear princess tiaras and goof with us and her great-grandkids.
Did you know . . .
Some people believe we have the choice to live “two lives” within our one lifetime — that we’re presented with a fork in the road during a midlife transition period when we have one seemingly simple choice:
We can either get busy living by embracing the potential of all that's to come yet in “Act II,” OR we can make excuses for not fully participating in life and thereby get busy dying.
Take a minute right now to stop and consider this pivotal choice . . .
Think about your parents.
Think about older friends, co-workers, and relatives.
How have they chosen to handle their Act II?
Personally, I was shocked by how easily the people I know seemed to fall under one category or the other. For example:
My father was diagnosed with prediabetes at age 50, so he started running to be sure he could fully enjoy his Act II. By making changes to his lifestyle, exercise routine, and diet, he pushed off needing diabetes medications for 18 years.
Running even ended up becoming a passion for him, and at age 76, he's still competing in triathlons. He continues to inspire all the grandkids to live healthily and to RUN.
I want a strong Act II, too. (Granted, maybe not doing triathlons, but...)
I want to wear a glitter princess tiara at 89 years old, too.
After learning all this helpful information and talking with my parents, I emailed my doctor to schedule an appointment to be tested for signs of Prediabetes.
I hope you'll reach out and talk to your parents to find out more about your own family history.
I hope you'll take a moment in your busy schedule to learn about type 2 diabetes prevention.
And I hope you'll share this article with your siblings, friends, or family who might also be at risk of diabetes.
Wishing you love and good health,
P.S. Looking for trusted resources about type 2 diabetes?
- Get resources from the American Diabetes Association
- Check out the CDC's National Diabetes Prevention Program to learn about lifestyle
- Find a diabetes education program in your area
PLEASE NOTE: The links in this post are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice nor are they endorsements of any healthcare provider or practice. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I was compensated by Med-IQ through a grant from Sanofi US to write about type 2 diabetes. All opinions are my own. The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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