Apparently I missed World Diabetes Day this year on November 14. Diabetes has seemingly attempted to capture the color blue and the month of November. I can’t be certain on the color blue but I am certain that Mo-Vember has conquered November. Each year this moment comes I wonder, what does this mean? Is it like a birthday, something to be celebrated? Or is it more like a 60th birthday, the person celebrates but wishes they were celebrating their 21st birthday instead.
The latter birthday seems to be the victor here. Worldwide diabetes affects some 370 million people. In the United States it affects 11% of the population. Think about that for a moment. One in ten adults have some form of diabetes. Do they have my form of diabetes? No. There are many forms of diabetes, from type-1 (that’s me) to type-2 and a whole host of conditions in between. We won’t get into that but all people with diabetes are susceptible to the same complications.
Here is the dilemma with diabetes. It isn’t a sexy condition. I won’t mention them but there are sexy conditions out there. The only reason they are sexy is because the nonprofits behind slick marketing campaigns have done a wonderful job receiving public sediment. I wish diabetes had something like this but it doesn’t.
The best I can hope for is to make people more aware of how diabetes affects all of us. This goes for all forms of diabetes. In this country our relationship with food and exercise needs to change. Primarily our relationship with food needs to change. The growth of type-2 diabetes and the western diet go hand in hand. No one needs to conduct a study to tell us that. This health epidemic involves all of society as it will bring down the health system if something is not changed.
Last week I went to the endocrinologist (that’s the diabetes doctor for anyone thinking of med school). She seemed shocked I didn’t have high blood pressure or complications. While she spoke I thought about how much I take care of myself and how it is sad that people don’t. When registered dietitians go to conferences sponsored by sugar water companies (I’ll let you figure out who I’m talking about) then there may not be much hope for peoples waistlines and thus their health.
Type-2 is growing while Type-1 diabetes is generally a mismanaged condition because medicine centers around treating what a patient already has, instead of preventative medicine. I ride my bike because it feels good, it gives me freedom. At least that is what I tell myself. I’m guessing without diabetes I would never have fallen in love with fitness. Exercise and eating well is preventative medicine. Both type-2 and type-1 benefit if medicine would change to see exercise and eating well as the medicine itself.
In the end I don’t think I missed World Diabetes Day. The true meaning of World Diabetes Day is having an apple instead of a candy bar or going for a walk at lunch. That’s real change. Support programs like the Pascua Yaqui riders program. Their mission is “working to educate and empower people living with diabetes and obesity in the Native American community using cycling, good food and community.” This program actually causes in their community. Change matters. Diabetes may never be sexy but we can all still be aware more than one day a year.
For more information on the Pascua Yaqui Program visit: https://www.facebook.com/PascuaYaquibike