November 12, 2014 — Blog Post
Did Someone Say Diabetes?
My father will tell you that one of his greatest accomplishments is having named me. When he said it out loud to my mom, it just fit. My family has always believed that there’s power in words and by claiming something, you give it authority, meaning. As a rule of thumb, you don’t claim the negative things, especially as it relates to your health.
Growing up, I watched my dad labor intensively to provide for us. Having a business in transportation meant driving for hours upon end, and ultimately sitting and eating in an upright position all day. He was so busy that he barely had time for himself and rarely saw a primary care physician. I often wondered what his occupation was doing to his health. But he didn’t feel as if he could just stop or slow down, when there was always a mountain of bills to pay.
So when my mother phoned recently to say he’d been hospitalized overnight, the wondering was over—something was really wrong.
I got to his hospital room as soon as I could and found him looking idly at the TV screen. He was surprised (and happy) to see me, but exclaimed that he was fine and there was nothing to worry about. When the nurse came to check on him, I pulled my mother aside to get the latest info. Apparently, his blood sugar was 3x what it should’ve been and tests were still being run. “They haven’t pronounced him with anything!” she quickly added. Yet, as I scanned the pale walls everything had D-I-A-B-E-T-E-S spelled out. His inpatient meal menu, for example, literally said “NEW DIABETIC” at the top. Right beside it, there were papers on the importance of carb counting for Type 2 Diabetes. Even as the nurse left to switch shifts, there was talk of Metformin and glucose monitoring, but no one ever looked us in the eye to confirm what seemed pretty evident to me. Why wouldn’t anyone just say it?
Now, I could’ve been jumping the gun since some test results weren’t in, but knowing there’s a history of not wanting to accept illness in my family, this seemed like a potentially dangerous situation. By keeping quiet, how would that affect my dad getting better? How would not “claiming” a diagnosis prevent us from tackling this head on?
Since then, we’ve had to adjust our thinking as a whole unit. Saying you’ve been diagnosed with a disease can make it feel more real or even scary, but also talking about the positive can keep you grounded. My dad and I now talk regularly about his Diabetes, how he’s feeling and what weekly steps he’s taking. We’ve also found that verbalizing him taking action to make follow-up appointments helps him actually get there. Voicing goals after a diagnosis, especially to those that care about you, can be the key to keeping you on the right track.