Thursday, 23 September 2010

What do people think when you say “I have Diabetes”?

I was told recently that “diabetes was a death sentence” by someone who had lost a loved
 one due to complications from this mysterious disease. It stopped me in my tracks. I thought “I hope not”.

This got me thinking about what people who don’t know much about diabetes are really thinking when you tell them you have diabetes.

Over the years some of the comments I’ve received out loud have been that I’m too thin to have diabetes (by the way I’m not thin), I get the pity look, and “God love you”.

So, are people having flashing images of one-legged ailing & blind relatives? Are they thinking that I must be fat and lazy because of all the media attention focused on the link between diabetes and obesity? Are they thinking that I deserve to have diabetes because I’m fat and lazy?

All of these people can be forgiven for what they think – they are lucky enough not to have someone close to them who has it. Unfortunately, according to the figures from the World Health Organisation this will probably change.

Thankfully, I don’t dwell on what other people are thinking and I choose between explaining what having diabetes really means or just practise nodding my head.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Call to Action for People with Diabetes.

Since I returned to live in Ireland I have been increasingly frustrated with the health services available to me, a person with diabetes. This stems from my fear of what the future holds for me health wise. What if one day I developed an ulcer on my leg that just won’t heal? What would happen to me & my family then? The answer is that my husband would help me pack our bags and move us all back to the United States; I would be heartbroken but I would have the very best medical care.

For a while I sat around and moaned about how somebody should do something to change things. Then I progressed to, I wish I could do something… but what? Then, I started finding ways that I could do something (with the help, advice and support from my husband) and did it.

I’m happy to announce that on Saturday, the 11th of September that I became even more empowerment to truly make a difference. I became a Local Diabetes Advocate for Diabetes Action. What I can do was broken down for me into small tasks and it was then explained that if I encouraged others to do them same, how those small tasks would have a huge impact. It is crystal clear to me now.

“Diabetes Action is a new diabetes advocacy group, with a two-year campaign that aims to influence health policy by mobilising grassroots support from Ireland’s growing diabetes community.”

Their first campaign is focusing on improving podiatry services for people with diabetes, who are “needlessly developing complications often leading to amputations.” Between 2005 and 2009, there was 3237 lower limb amputations, 1579 of those were due to diabetes (that’s 49%). 1579 people lost a limb when it should have been prevented. There are lots more facts and figures to blow your mind on the website.

I’m asking people with diabetes to do as I have just done; log onto , fill in your name, postal address & email. The website will create an email for you to send to your TD/Senator asking them to lobby the HSE and the Department of Health & Children to set up a local service as part of a National Foot Screening Programme. The email will contain real facts about services in your county.
Now my mission is to spread the word to as many people with diabetes and their families and encourage them to send this email through Diabetes Action.
We’ve sat around too long wishing we could do something but not knowing what we could do.