I’m going to get all preachy and soapboxy for a moment. In my last post I joked about the bird flu. When a disease like that breaks out, people get all paranoid and scared. What if it comes here? What if it becomes an epidemic? Blah blah blah. Yeah, it’s scary.
Bird flu (and illness like that) are all very newsworthy and hip but what about the epidemic that IS killing people, that IS filling our hospitals, that IS causing debillitating illness?
I know I’m preaching to the converted here, but what the hell is going on with the obesity epidemic in this country? Three hundred people a day are diagnosed with diabetes. Three hundred.
Diabetes doesn’t just kill, it causes a whole range of problems. I remember my doctor telling me about a patient, an old lady with type 2 diabetes. She told him she wasn’t going to try to control her diabetes – she was old and she’d reckoned her time on earth was almost up anyway.
Within a year, she’d become blind and had to have her leg amputated. It’s not just about dying from diabetes, it’s about living with it.
I know people who have died from complications of diabetes, people who’ve had parts amputated because of it. Last year, I was talking to a surgical nurse at a party. He told me how they have diabetic patients come in to get a toe removed. The doctors tell them to change their lifestyle but the patients don’t listen. The next time they come in it’s a foot… then it’s a leg… Still they keep doing the same things.
Is that KFC worth it? Is that Big Mac?
It’s scary stuff but it’s entirely preventable. I heard the health minister being interviewed yesterday. He said the government is limited in what they can do to prevent obesity. They can’t make people walk to work; they can’t stop people eating junk food. Maybe not but there is a heap of stuff they can do, it’s just not stuff that is going to make them popular or win them votes. For starters, they can tax the arse out of junk food – they do it with cigarettes. Or how about this – a complete television black out for an hour every night? I bet you’d get a lot more people exercising.
I know it comes down to individual responsibility, but this epidemic will cause a whole shitload of suffering in the next few decades. If we had three hundred people a day diagnosed with bird flu we’d have people storming parliament demanding answers.
For those of you who don’t know, I was diagnosed with diabetes about four or five years ago. To start with, I was in denial – and anyway it would take years before anything went really wrong.
I thought I could control my diabetes by changing my lifestyle except my lifestyle didn’t change. I kept eating the same foods and not exercising. I meant to make improvements, one day.
Then I got put on medication. Every time I got tested, the results were bad, my medication got upped. My cholestrol was off the chart and I’d long since had my gallbladder removed. All the while, I kept telling myself – I might be fat but I’m healthy.
Last year, something clicked in my brain. I realised I had to do something. No more excuses, no more “one day”. The consquences weren’t just a bigger clothes size (and, let’s face it, you can’t get much bigger than an elastic waisted size 26 anyway), the consquences were life and death. Blindness terrifies me and there’s no point shoe shopping if you don’t have any feet.
I’d been let to believe, by my doctor, that once you started on a certain level of medication you were there for life. The progression only went one way – you took stronger and stronger meds until you got so bad you had to take insulin. I didn’t want to be on tablets, let alone injecting insulin.
Then I found out that diabetes is reversible – it’s not a one way street at all. Since then, I’ve dreamed of becoming medication free. Of being healthy. Of being in control.
I talked to my doctor today and maybe it will happen. I have to have some blood tests – the main thing she wants to check for is some kind of antibodies in my blood that mean (from my understanding of what she said) the type 2 diabetes is precursor of developing type 1 diabetes rather than being caused by lifestyle factors.
If I don’t have the antibodies, I’m home free. I could be off my medication next week! That makes me so happy. Three hundred people a day diagnosed with diabetes and I’m getting off my medication. I hate to follow trends.