by MIRIAM SANDERS
November is filled with that brisk, refreshing air of fall along with the delicious flavor of the turkey on Thanksgiving, but November also happens to be national diabetes month. Diabetics in general are often ignored and their disease is misunderstood. Most people do not consider diabetes a serious disease, but this disease takes a huge emotional and financial toll on our country. For this month, we owe a little understanding to all diabetics, across the globe.
So what is diabetes, anyway? When you are diabetic, your pancreas, or the organ that produces insulin, does not work properly. The symptom is high blood sugar. Excess high blood sugar can lead to necessary amputations of limbs, loss of vision, and other organ damage. There are actually two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a disease that you are born with, and there is no prevention for this disease. Type 2 diabetes is often caused by stress, obesity, or excess weight gain. Contrary to type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is actually preventable. By eating healthy, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight, you are lessening your chances of getting diabetes. While type 2 diabetes sometimes goes away with weight loss, type 1 is not curable, and the person has it for their whole life.
How many people in America have diabetes? A baffling 26 million children and adults have diabetes. With obesity raising, 76 million have the risk of obtaining type 2 diabetes. Every 17 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes is a serious disease; it kills more people each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.
Now that we know what diabetes is and who has it, what is life like as a diabetic? Imagine before having to eat, stabbing your finger to extract blood, and testing your blood glucose. Then after eating, you must estimate the carbohydrates you just ate and then dose with insulin in a syringe. (Yes, that has a needle. Someone with diabetes cannot really be scared of needles because their life depends on it.) Sometimes, though, your estimation is incorrect, leaving you with this feeling of shakiness and dizziness, a sign of low blood sugar; you must now eat some fast-acting carbohydrates, such as Skittles. On the other hand, you could have underestimated your carbohydrates, leaving you to stare at the mind boggling, high glucose for you to deal with now. It is a constant battle with your body that is difficult to manage.
Diabetes does not just affect the people who have the disease; it affects the people around them as well. Not only does this disease cause stress in the household, but it is a costly disease as well. Insulin, test strips, testers, syringes, and other supplies must always be in stock for the diabetic in order for him or her to survive. Let us take to heart the seriousness of this disease and remember all diabetics, not just in the month of November, but always.