His name is Brian and he’s a diabetic.
I didn’t know this until recently, although our paths cross regularly because he works at the gym in my apartment building.
Brian is about forty years old and fit — with heavily tattooed arms and a serious demeanor. Our gym is always immaculate, which is a result of his care and effort and something I complimented him about frequently. He always responded with a smile and a “thanks,” but that was the extent of our interactions.
Recently, Brian heard me discussing my diabetes with someone in the gym and approached me afterwards. “I’m diabetic too,” he said.
He told me about diabetic symptoms like exhaustion, dehydration, and sleepless nights. I was fifty when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and went through many of the same difficulties and frustrations that Brian experienced. He had a bad reaction to some medication and stopped taking it rather than discussing the problem with his doctor. This is something known in healthcare as “non-adherence” or “patient compliance,” regarding the degree to which a patient correctly follows medical advice.
I had a similar experience with Metformin, an established diabetes medication that I’ve taken regularly for years. When I first began using it, I experienced side effects (muscle pain) and stopped taking it without consulting my doctor. Side effects from prescription medications can be frustrating but battling a disease like diabetes is a process, and not a simple one. I now take a combination of two diabetes medications and they work effectively for me.
I urged Brian to go back to his doctor and find another medication and we discussed different food options that are very effective for diabetics.
I have tried a wide range of medications, diets, and exercise plans and after 12 years of living with diabetes I’m still learning. I enjoy speaking with — and helping — other diabetics. It’s like running into someone from the old neighborhood and discussing a shared problem which you then resolve together.
I have a webpage www.robtaub.com/diabetes dedicated to diabetes and I write and speak about the subject, but I want to do more for people like Brian. They need additional help and education above and beyond what they can get from their doctor. Many diabetics must contend with obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression yet they have no one to give them guidance and moral support.
Diabetes and obesity are growing at an epidemic rate in the United States. Unfortunately, when addressing health issues, as a country we are reactive rather than proactive and often become concerned only after someone becomes very ill and requires extreme treatment.
If politicians really cared about people, they would do more than preach about free healthcare while demonizing pharmaceutical companies. The chances of this happening are slim and none, so once again the onus falls on the private sector. If we focus more on education and prevention, we’ll need less treatment. Let’s do it.
Rob Taub has enjoyed an eclectic career in film, television, radio, and journalism. He has interviewed everyone from pop stars to presidents and he has written more than 250 articles for People Magazine, FoxNews.com, SI/Cauldron, The Huffington Post, and Thrive Global. Rob is a respected Diabetes Advocate and Obesity Ambassador, writing and speaking regularly about Type 2 diabetes and health. Follow him on Twitter @robmtaub or at www.RobTaub.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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