Midlife Health

Midlife diagnosis of diabetes

Being diabetic isn’t something that I talk about much. It carries a stigma of blame and shame. For these reasons, I keep my condition quiet. However, if this blog post helps even one person come to terms with their condition during Diabetes Week (13 to 19 June), it will be worth it.

There are a lot of changes that I have happily embraced in my midlife but being diagnosed as a pre-diabetic certainly wasn’t a welcomed life-changing event. In fact, it sent me into a spiral of depression. I felt angry with myself for allowing it to happen to me. I blamed myself for eating too much chocolate and not enough vegetables. I was ashamed and didn’t tell anyone for ages about my condition.

I felt as if a life sentence had been imposed on me. Being prediabetic meant that I didn’t have diabetes but the thought of my condition leaping up the one level from being a pre to full-blown was a scary and depressing thought. I walked around with a huge weight on my shoulders. Some months later, when I felt brave enough, I started to do some research and discovered that what I was feeling was, indeed, a normal reaction.

When you first find out you have diabetes, the news might be hard to believe. You may think it is your fault, or you may feel angry, scared, or sad. These feelings are normal–many people have them. Give yourself time. Everyone handles finding out they have diabetes in their own time and in their own way.

It was quite by chance that my diagnosis was made. I went to the GP complaining about something unrelated and he thought it prudent, given my ethnicity and family health history, to do some blood tests. A week later I got the phone call and a new appointment but this time for a discussion on diabetic management.

Diabetes is something that I grew up hearing about. South Asian people are six times more likely to contract Type 2 diabetes than other racial groups. Most of the older members of my family had diabetes. My grandmother, who died far too young from health complications, had a bag full of medicines, half of which were diabetic treatments.

Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes

Managing my condition takes a lot of work and thought. There are days when I simply do not know what to eat because the advice to ‘eat things in moderation’ is pretty useless when ‘moderation’ isn’t defined. I was once told to eat sensibly during the week and eat what I want at weekends. I tried that, the problem was that I have a sweet tooth that never knows when to stop chomping. As a result, I didn’t feel good from eating what I wanted for even two days a week.

Getting used to the idea that you have a disease is different for each person. After a while, most people accept the diagnosis. They wish they did not have diabetes, but they learn how to live with it. This makes it easier to take care of yourself

I now know that diabetes isn’t one’s fault. I am not to blame but there are things that I can do. Exercising daily helps. I have an exercise bicycle at home. I go for walks. Being prone to stress means that I have to work hard at managing this because stress results in hormones that spike your blood sugar readings.

Every cloud has a silver lining and, while I have to look hard for a whisker of silver, I now do have a far more active lifestyle and that is a good thing.

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