November 15, 2012

A Plea For Diabetes Awareness

November is National American Diabetes Awareness Month. I must disclose that I am particularly close to this disease. My dad passed away seven years ago. He suffered from diabetes and died of a heart attack complicated by diabetes. This disease devastated my life, taking away my daddy, my hero. If you have read any of my health posts, you know that eating healthy and exercise are important to me. My main inspiration for this is the death of my dad.

I had always been at least aware of being healthy. I was active and generally ate healthy. With his heart attack, I suddenly became more focused on heart health, which naturally included learning more about diabetes. What I found out shocked me. According to the American Diabetes Associate website, nearly 26 million children and adults. The United States Census Bureau shows an up-to-date population of 314.7 million United States citizens, so 8 percent of Americans suffer from diabetes. Perhaps that doesn’t sound too high, but think about it this way, eight of every hundred people deal with diabetes on a daily basis. And, that number is rising because another 79 million have prediabetes and are at risk for type 2 diabetes.

These numbers are simply too high. If all of the 79 million with prediabetes become diabetic, that means 105 million Americans could deal with the consequences of diabetes. That’s 33 percent of the American population. These numbers should set off alarms.

The extreme complications of diabetes touched my life: heart disease including heart attack and strokes. As the American Diabetes Association further reports, adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates two to four times higher than those without. This means that I am not the only daughter who has lost a parent to complications from this disease. This also means that this is a disease demanding attention.

Beyond heart disease and stroke, possible diabetes complications include high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy, and limb amputation. At the very least people endure medical complications by having to complete regular check-ups, take medication possibly including insulin shots, and watch their eating habits. None of these are a joke. All of them deserve attention.

National American Diabetes Awareness Month is not just about my story or your story. This month is about making others aware of the issues and dangers of diabetes. This is not just a disease that affects what a person can eat or how one can eat. This is a disease that can and does kill. To ignore it is more than dangerous; it’s irresponsible.

To check and see whether you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, please go to the American Diabetes Associate website for the test. And just to make it easier, click here. For information about type 1 diabetes, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes, please see your doctor immediately. Diabetes is not something to be ashamed of. It is not a disease that you should ignore. Diabetes is a disease that people can control with help from a doctor.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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