THE INTERSECTION OF WOUND CARE & DIABETESRobert Striks, Special Writer, Encompass HealthCare and Wound Medicine
I’m diabetic. I have type-2 diabetes. At 53, I’ve battled it for 22 years now. I’m typing this because I’m sorry to say that I’ve reached a dubious stage in this disease.
I’m where the disease is making its presence known at the farthest reaches of my body. The tips of my toes. The soles of my feet. Places beyond the larger arteries to the smallest capillaries. Diabetes lives there and loves “de-nerving” those extremities.
No, I haven’t always checked my blood sugar levels three times a day at the same time each day. I’m doing just okay diet wise; made some good substitutions. But I do cheat a lot. Mostly just eating too much.
And now, there’s a pain developing just behind the numbness in the ends of my toes and on the side of my foot. This isn’t how diabetes starts; it’s how it progresses.
If you’re like me, at this moment you’re standing in the middle of a very bad intersection. You’ve got the Diabetes Devastation Center on one corner next to the wound care clinic; the Coronary Artery Disease Campus on another corner and Hypertension Tower just across the street. There’s another building further down the road, but at the moment, the sign is too blurry to make out.
I don’t feel very powerful in the middle of this intersection. In fact, I’m scared to death. I read about the progression. I won’t be able to feel my toes, then parts of my feet and legs. A blister turns into a sore that I couldn’t feel developing. It gets infected and I begin wound care and IV antibiotic therapy. If I don’t attend to this as if my life depends on it, I could be looking at amputations from my toes on up to my knees. If they go above the knee, my survival rate drops to five years.
I can make out that building down the road now. It’s the Department of Diabetic Retinopathy. If I don’t point myself in the right direction right now, at this intersection, I’ll become a regular at that place. There, I’ll experience the gradual disintegration of the tiny capillaries on my retina. I’ll lose vision just like I lost sight of my diabetes. That’ll make me more dependent on other people as diabetes gradually takes away my freedom and dignity.Heart disease, kidney failure, depression…diabetes is an insidious disease that works 24/7, never takes a break and will not stop until I am dead. Sure, I’ve got some bad genetic factors. But me and my lifestyle have conspired to bring me to this intersection through mountains of mashed potatoes, cakes, fried everything and very little exertion. I’ve been up in the stands in life, watching this game play out.
But now it’s time for me to get on the field and play. Full out.
Potatoes, cakes and fried anything…done. Finito. If they get past that little opening under my nose, I’m losing and diabetes is winning. If I don’t move briskly for at least 30 minutes a day, I may as well find a room to rent at this intersection. It’s as simple as that.
And, it’s as easy as that. It’s not monumental or complicated. It’s math. It’s substitution, addition and subtraction. Pureed cauliflower for mashed potatoes. Subtract bread, add walking. Substitute quinoa for rice and garbanzo flour for wheat flour. There is a healthy alternative to every negative food that feeds diabetes, you just have to be on the field playing to find it.
Sooner rather than later, I’ll be at a much better intersection, a less dire intersection. We’ll get there. Just follow me.
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