Diabetes, most people have heard of it – some don’t know what it is. I for example used to know nothing about it, and in my head only assumed that people who had the condition ‘died’ earlier than those without it. And I guess that might have been the case in years gone past, but things in diet, health advice and medication have come on in leaps and bounds in the last 20 years or so. Insulin treatment has advanced and other medication is ever getting better. Additionally food has grown in variety too, we have also got the knowledge that low fat and high fibre is good.
Having lived with diabetes for 16 years now, it is still disease that confuses me and sometimes worries me. When I was first diagnosed I was told the usual things like: If you don’t control your diabetes it can cause a multitude of health problems (Strokes, heart attacks, blindness, amputation etc). You will need you eyes tested every year. You will find you take longer to heal from cuts and ‘normal health problems’ etc. I have to confess I didn’t believe half of it, especially the longer time in healing, and the possibility of infections. I now know that to be true. As you may have read over the past year I have had trouble with my ‘stump’ (my amputation was through trauma not diabetes) in the form of sores on it. One healed after many months, only for another to open and begin bleeding, that healed after some months and I got a sore on my stump knee, and while that continues I noticed some blood in my liner last night. So I can now see that slower healing is very true in the form of the disease. Additionally people with diabetes generally have a lower immune system, leaving them vulnerable to ‘cold and flus and the like’. This I have found is another true statement from the professionals. So in hindsight, perhaps the highly trained professionals who offer all their years of training through advice – actually do know what they are saying, and me the mere mortal knows very little. My point being that we all need (whatever health problems we might have) need to listen and take on board that advice.
So do I consider ‘my’ diabetes to be a curse? In ways yes, I can’t simply go to the fridge and pick up a bar of chocolate like I once did. I am unable to buy cheap travel insurance for holidays as it now needs to be specialised. Life insurance is a no no so I have had to buy ‘over 50’ plans which I’m not greatly enamoured by. In other ways, it does make you think about what you put into your body and how you treat it, in fact there is hardly anything that I don’t questions about fat and carbs etc, before it goes into my system. So overall while its not the curse I once thought, it also isn’t a pleasure to have either.
Food is an essential of life, but being brought up in an era of ‘hardship’ in the 60’s/70’s I was ‘trained’ if you like to like foods that aren’t good for you. Don’t get me wrong my mum cooked from scratch most of the time, but her food was coked in full fat, and her chips were deep fat fried and she added nigh on half a tub of salt into the lard. Her roasts (while being extremely tasty) were cooked in the traditional way of the fat from the animal. But that was the way things are, and life has changed, food has become healthier, and the choice has become far wider too which is a good thing of course. But I still yearn for those tastes of ‘Mum’s cooking’. As a diabetic a low fat, low sugar, high fibre diet is the advised. But that is no different to the one advised to the rest of the population (with exception through medical alerts). I used to smoke (which I gave up when in hospital for months), so when I gave that up the only pleasure in my life was food. Altering that was going to be difficult, I knew what I liked and I liked what I knew. But I opened my mind to try ‘things’ that were different, and I found actually it’s not so bad. For example today we have beetroot and goats cheese roasts with saute potatoes. OK the beetroot roasts are pre-packed, but the fact is that before being diabetic I would probably have been extremely reluctant to try anything like this.
I’ve always said (and firmly believe too) that no matter how big your burden is, no matter what you are going through at the minute – there is always someone worse off than you. And how many times have I began to think sorry for myself only to see starving children with bloated tummies on my screen, with words saying unless you donate this child might die. You know the sort of ‘guilt trip’ charity advert that I’m sure we’re all familiar with. And then TV programmes show other people who have young children with the very strong possibility of dying young, and who will go blind and deaf before they die – see Diabetes is really put into the right place when you look at it like that. But on the same token, I am not silly enough to dismiss the disease as trivial – because again I have seen what complications of it can do.
Upon closing I can confirm that the beetroot and goats cheese roast was edible, I didn’t realise that goats cheese was quite so ‘strong’ in flavour. But we all ate them and all agreed that we wouldn’t order them if we went to a restaurant.