Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mile Marker: Wardrobe Malfunction

Blame it on the diabetes dragon. Apparently, I slogged around for a couple of years in the midst of a wardrobe malfunction.  I say "apparently," but it wasn't at all apparent to me. I attributed most of the changes in my body to age, stress, and . . . age! I didn't realize that I should have been getting even more exercise, making even better choices about every single bite of food I stuck in my mouth, and extracting blood from my fingers with a needle several times a day. I thought I was being pretty judicious because, after all, I already was battling heart disease. But, my wardrobe was all wrong. I should have had different accessories, with awareness being the most important one.

If you are vaguely like my brother, Tony, or me before our diagnoses, you've never given a fleeting thought to being diabetic. But, did you know that there is a precursor to the disease -- a red flag -- to the development of type 2, called "prediabetes"? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a fact sheet in 2011 that calculates an astounding 30% of the U.S. population over age 20, about 79 million of us, is prediabetic. Just as I was oblivious to this condition, a large portion of those affected have no knowledge of it. That's only a smidgen of the bad news. Statistics reveal that such ignorance about one's prediabetic state is very dangerous.

Prediabetes is a condition in which individuals have blood glucose levels higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Unchecked, this condition can lead you straight down a path to healthcare hell.

In its National Diabetes Prevention Program, the CDC reports, "If you have prediabetes, you are 5 to 15 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people with normal blood glucose (blood sugar) levels."

And, once that prediabetic condition crosses the threshold into diabetes, you'll be much poorer, because medical expenses will DOUBLE. Take a gander at the picture above. It represents about $100 worth of undesirable accessories that probably wouldn't have been necessary, had I known about my prediabeties. To boot, those accessories constantly need to be replenished in an effort to avoid the following complications:
  • heart disease;
  • stroke;
  • nervous system disease;
  • blindness;
  • kidney disease and dialysis;
  • amputation; and
  • twice the risk of death as a non-diabetic of the same age group.
Now, if that isn't enough to throw you at your doctor's feet to beg for a simple diagnostic test, you might want to try the American Diabetes Association's online risk test. "It's fast. It's free. It's easy." Click here and follow the directions -- especially if you get to the part that says, "Talk to your doctor to see if additional testing is needed."

The good news about prediabetes is that with just a couple of new accessories -- awareness and effort -- most people can STOP its progression and avoid walking blindly into the type 2 diabetes brick wall.

My new wardrobe accessories and I are heading out the door to STOP diabetes in the I Run Against Diabetes event. Why are YOU waiting? Here's to the next mile!

P.S. Nick, Missy, AJ, Mark and Avis -- I'm giving you "that look"!

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