Several years ago I took my daughter to her first high school dance. She was going to meet her girl friend at the dance. She didn't have a date, she was to young for that as far as I was concerned, but she did want to go to the dance because she thought it would be fun. As we got in the car and headed down the street I asked her if she had this and that, trying to make sure she had everything. She seemed a little tense. Finally she told me in a tone that let me know I was bugging her, "I got this." So, I stopped asking.
A few quiet minutes later and a little further down the road my daughter blurts out, "I don't have my ticket. I left it in my bedroom. We have to go back."
So much for, "I got this." Ever since that day when my daughter tells me, "I got this" I tell her,
"That's what I'm worried about."
About a week ago, I was in the grocery store and saw someone that I have known for close to thirty years. We were not close, but someone I used to see almost daily and now only run into once or twice a year. She has type 2 diabetes.
Back when she was first diagnosed over ten years ago she told me one day how she came to find out she had type 2 diabetes. She told me she was on vacation and developed an infection on her big toe. The infection worsened and would not heal no matter what she did. The doctor she went to apparently suspected diabetes as wounds many times do not heal as they should when you have diabetes. He is the one that diagnosed her diabetes. Unfortunately, for my friend however, her toe was so badly infected it could not be saved and was amputated shortly after her diagnosis. Apparently she had diabetes for a while without knowing it. There are many, many people, an estimated five million people that have diabetes today and don't yet know it.
So, you are wondering, what does that have to do with taking your daughter to a dance and her forgetting her ticket? Remember when I said I was asking my daughter questions in the car trying to make sure she had not forgotten anything and she said, "Dad, I got this?" and then several minutes later she blurted out. "Dad, I forgot my ticket". Well, I guess to put it bluntly, no she hadn't "Got this." But she certainly thought she did.
Similarly, when my friend told me she had developed type 2 diabetes, and particularly when it had progressed to the point of her needing to have her big toe removed, I emphasized the need for her to attend a comprehensive diabetes class to learn more about the illness and how to take care of herself. After all she already had one toe removed, which is no small consequence of having diabetes. In spite of my strong encouragement to get education, the response I got was very similar to my daughter's "I got this", or "I know what to do". After hearing her response I tried again to convince her but my comments fell on deaf ears. She wasn't really deaf but you know what I mean.
Last week when I saw her at the grocery store, she was heavier than I had ever seen her. She was in a motorized cart. She didn't look good to me. I didn't approach her because I didn't want to rehash her situation or all that had gone wrong since our talk many years ago. I just felt sad and highly frustrated.
Why is it that when someone that knows about diabetes and how it can ravage the human body when not understood and cared for, recommends to someone that they seek education about the disease so they can take better care of themselve, they refuse to do so. So often they rely on a friend they know with the disease and choose to get advice from them, a terrible idea. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation out there. Often they will tell me that they read a book about diabetes or heard a TV doctor talk for ten minutes about it, or was told by their doctor just to "watch it". What on earth does that mean? What is the patient supposed to watch? They don't know what to watch because they never got educated about diabetes!
I feel myself getting excited now so I will stop. I feel sad for my friend but at the same time aggravated at her for not doing what I suggested, because she doesn't look healthy. Remaining overweight is one of the worst things to do when you have diabetes.
The worst thing about this situation is that it happens so frequently. Perhaps you yourself have type 2 diabetes and have been putting off attending a class about the disease. Do yourself a favor, a tremendous favor, and attend a ten hour comprehensive diabetes class where the instructors are Certified Diabetes Educators. It will change your life, for the better.
Milt Bedingfield is a certified diabetes educator and exercise physiologist and has been teaching people with diabetes about the disease and how to care for it for the last 19 years.
Milt's other website can be found at: http ://www.MasteringType2Diabetes.com