Diabetes, why me?

DIABETES  –  You have heard about it often, now know about it, but when you have to face it yourselves, it is difficult. You ask why me, what I have done wrong? Important is to remember that it is no fault of yours that you have Diabetes.

It is the single most important metabolic disease that can affect nearly every organ system in the body.

There are 190 million diabetics in the world now. Indians are genetically more susceptible (India has been labeled as Diabetes capital of the world) and the World Health Organization predicts the number of diabetics in India would go up to 40 million by 2010 and 74 million by 2025. See – you are not alone! Now, let us face the truth together.

There was a school of thought that “ignorance is bliss”, knowledge of illness causes distress and prevents or reduces hope. Days have gone, now the challenge is to move away from this and to be a mature person who is capable of accepting the responsibility of treating his own illness.

The whole idea is to understand that treatment will be beneficial and delaying treatment will lead to undesirable consequences.

Different types of patient responses that have been seen with Diabetes as an illness

  • Knowledgeable – Whoever knows the impact of his illness is willing to continue with right treatment and has his full family support. He is calm and composed about his illness

  • Scared – Whoever fears his illness, resents the rigid lifestyle, with low family support and is dependent on others

  • Casual – Whoever is nonchalant about his illness and does not want to take action till complications set in)

  • Myopic – Whoever wants maximum results with minimum input and has minimum awareness of the illness.

  • Know it all – Whoever fakes he has all the knowledge about the disease, but seldom has. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing!

We want to give you all information in a clear language so that you can understand the problem and take an active part in solving it. At the same time you need to be aware the new things are happening in this field.

Not uncommonly, the first response in knowing a chronic illness is Denial and Diabetes is of exception. Reactions to news about chronic illness vary from person to person. They include disbelief, revolt (accusation), depression (sadness for health lost), confronting reality and consenting (coping) with serenity. These are integrating processes. The process of integration is also dependent on how the patient views his or her disease. Hence patient education plays a very important role.

A young lady had a blood sugar test which revealed that she was suffering from Diabetes Mellitus. She just could not come to terms with this and went through a myriad of emotions, finally leading to denial. She refused treatment, saying that she just did not have Diabetes. A suitable approach would be to acknowledge the denial and to seek reasons for it. She could be asked the reasons for her denial which would evoke a response, which could be addressed suitably. Should the denial continue with the patient saying that she just does not believe it, one could proceed by gently placing before her the consequences of her denial. On gently persisting, issues that can be handled will come out and the denial broken successfully.

Look at another extreme example. A young man, a juvenile diabetic, decides to tie the knot, but fearing that his young bride would reject him if she knew his medical condition, keeps her in the dark. The marriage is over and off they go for their honeymoon. No insulin is possible and the young man lands into complications of high sugar Diabetic coma on return after three days. He promptly gets himself into the nursing home of the doctor who has been treating him, pleading that the doctor announces that diabetes was just detected! What does the doctor do?

Art of communication as an important part of therapy; occasionally it is the only constituent. It usually requires greater thought and planning than a drug prescription, and unfortunately it is commonly administered in sub therapeutic doses! The truth and acceptance of reality lies in the manner in which it is disclosed. This responsibility lies with the health care provider. Various steps in helping patients cope with Diabetes would help them accept the diagnosis, give information that is required, scope for ventilation of feelings, formulate an action plan and be available for the patient.

Researchers are intensively studying the genetic and environmental factors that underlie the susceptibility to obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes. As they learn more about the molecular events that lead to diabetes, they will develop ways to prevent and cure the different stages of this disease. Until then, we can hope to prevent further progression of this pandemic by eating healthy and having an exercise filled healthier lifestyle. Yes, you may be at risk. But you can surely postpone it.

The doctor is a friend, not a dictator in sharing the treatment responsibility and should make the patient “knowledgeable”. Let’s tackle Diabetes hand in hand!