Sunday, November 13, 2005

It's Diabetes Day

EVERY year, World Diabetes Day falls on November 14. World Diabetes Day was established by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and World Health Organization (WHO) in 1991, with the aim of coordinating diabetes advocacy worldwide. It has become the primary awareness campaign of the global diabetes community.
Diabetes runs in my family. My father has just been released from a one week's stay at the hospital after suffering complications from diabetes.

I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant. The chances of getting diabetes later in life is a distinct possibility for persons who have had gestational diabetes, and for me with a family history of diabetes, it is more a matter of when than if.

My father attends regular diabetic clinic at the Polyclinic in Miri, Malaysia and after each visit he'd come home with a month's supply of medication. The only problem I have with the diabetic care in Malaysia run by the government hospitals is that the patients are not very well informed about the management of their disease. My father did not even possess a glucose meter. He took his insulin as told, but he never monitored his glucose level or his diet. Ever since he started injecting himself with insulin, his health seemed to have deteriorated. The only conclusion I can gather as to why, is that his insulin intake was not sufficient to treat his glucose level. That was how he ended up in hospital recently. His glucose level was sky high, beyond what the glucose meter could read!

Now that my father is back home and after experiencing a near death experience, he'd be more careful about monitoring his glucose level and watching his diet. One of my brothers bought him a glucose meter, and we will make sure that he takes his glucose reading a few times a day. One of my father's biggest problem is that he is not prepared to spend as much as he has to to manage his diabetes. He can afford to spend the money on test strips and lancets for the glucose meter, but balked at the daily expense! I suppose now he cannot afford not to spend some money if he is to manage his diabetes well.

When I had my gestational diabetes, I had to visit the endocrinologist about twice a week for several weeks, and then also I had to visit a nutritionist who taught me how to manage my diabetes through diet. At one point, I was told to take insulin because my glucose level seemed to be high too many times in a week, but I chose to control my glucose level through a stricter diet. When I think about how I was taught to manage my diabetes, I am amazed that my father who has had diabetes for years and years now, was not made to go through the same thing. Sure, he was told to avoid certain kinds of foods but he was not encouraged to monitor the glucose level daily using a simple gadget like a glucose meter.

With the yearly observance of World Diabetes Day in Malaysia, I hope that more people will pay greater attention to the dangers and treatment of the disease. It appears that diabetes is on the increase in Malaysia, and as such greater education on the management of the disease is needed.

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