Wednesday, November 7, 2012
“Is there something wrong with my pie?” asked Aunt Beth, gazing intently at her nephew, Jim, thus prompting a sudden rise in the tension level at the Christmas dinner table. Everyone knew there was nothing wrong with Aunt Beth’s cooking. In fact, the hostess of numerous family gatherings, Beth was famous for her mouth-watering dishes. The pie in question was her well-known Pecan Pie, and the object of her ire, Jim, had only tasted a tiny piece.
“Oh, nothing at all, Aunt Beth. I guess I must have stuffed myself with turkey and dressing.”
“I know you can handle some pie,” said Beth, looking him straight in the eyes. You could hear a pin drop.
Helping himself to a large piece, Jim replied, “Yes, ma’am, I sure can.” It was so good, that he ate two more pieces before the evening was over. Several hours later, at two in the morning, Jim was still awake, drinking water and going to the bathroom every ten minutes. He realized he was in trouble, for Jim had a little secret that only he, his wife and his doctor knew. The strong, healthy-looking man was recently diagnosed with diabetes. His glucose checker confirmed his worst fear: a glucose value higher than 500. As his wife drove him to the emergency room, Jim was thinking about how he could have dealt differently with his disease and Aunt Beth.
One of the problems with the diagnosis of diabetes is that it carries a significant social stigma. There is so much ignorance, so many myths and so little support surrounding this malady that affects 26 million Americans. Too frequently, men and women with diabetes keep the diagnosis to themselves and suffer in silence. Many times, patients are torn between the fear of judgment and the sense of shame. Yet, how can we fight an enemy that we don’t admit exists? And how can we be free unless we confront our false-guilt?
The truth is that a person with diabetes is not at fault for having it. There is a strong genetic component to developing the condition. What matters is how we handle diabetes, for it is a controllable disease. With healthy lifestyle choices and proper medications, you can protect yourself from diabetes complications.
As for Jim, he learned an important lesson that night. On the next family gathering, he resolved he would stand his ground. He would inform, and help educate his relatives about his medical condition- for that, he determined, was the best path to ensuring that it would be a happy and healthy holiday season.
Roper St. Francis Healthcare