Monday, June 2, 2008

Diabetes - Lessoned Learned

There is not much doubt that the majority of readers are very aware of the high, nearly epidemic, rates of diabetes in the indigenous population, along with the resulting retinopathy, cataracts, end-stage renal disease, lower extremity amputations, and other health issues. The data is readily available, and I won’t belabor the facts. Fortunately, Indian tribes have become pro-active in the detection and treatment of Type II diabetes through programs in Indian hospitals and special clinics. And, fortunately, additional funding is becoming available to support these programs.

What I wish to do is to impress on every diabetic - Native American and non- Native American alike - the importance of not minimizing this life sucking disease and urge them to follow their prescribed medications and accompanying regimen with a next to religious vigor.

I failed to do so over the past year, and addressed my diabetes in a half hearted way. In essence, I dropped my medications and program and concentrated my focus on the illness and death of my mother, taking care of children and grandchildren, and other daily living issues. Everything except my own illness.

This came to a head last week, which explains the lack of comments being posted. I won’t go into details, but it should suffice to say that last week was a miserable experience from which I am still recovering. Hopefully, I will be able to reverse the damage that I allowed to occur. It was a real wake-up lesson. After an unpleasant thorough and severe dressing down by my doctor - which I fully deserved - I’m back on my medications and associated programs.

The death rates for diabetes in American Indians is estimated to be 4.3 times the rate in whites. This is without taking consideration that American Indian death rates are estimated to be underreported by 20.6%. Manage your diabetes and don’t add to the statistics.

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