No, I'm not going to give you the typical symptoms like thirst, peeing a lot, losing weight, blurry vision and fatigue. I'm going to give you my 10 ways I know I have diabetes. Those 10 things I find myself doing only because I have diabetes.
1. I find myself screaming, "How many carbs are in that pancake? You don't know?! Can I see the box?!?" My day is filled with stuff ordinary people never think about.
2. Shit, shit, shit! (and really I don't usually curse) I wasn't going to walk this morning because they predicted rain and now the sun is out! Walk? Don't walk? Will I risk going low? Will I then have to eat when the last thing I want to do is burn calories only to have to eat more? Damn! How many other people beat themselves up for wanting to take a walk?
3. I am afflicted with a terrorist torture -- sleep deprivation. "I'm so tired, can't I just lie here and fall asleep?" No, gotta get up, go into the kitchen and stick a needle in my finger to check my blood sugar." Sunday morning replay: "I'm so sleepy, can't I just lie here just a little longer? It's only 6:45 a.m. for goodness' sake." No, gotta get up and stick a needle in my finger, and then two more to take my insulin.
4. "Hmmm... That's a cute designer diabetes accessory. It would carry all my syringes, vials, test strips." God, did I really say that? I want out of this club, never mind the cute accessories.
5. Wiping blood off my counter, my cupboard, my shirt -- yuck, my food -- with absolutely no notice, hesitation or dismay.
6. "When's dinner? When? You sure? Really? You're sure?"
7. Glucerna has a cereal for diabetics -- a product just for us. Hmmm, I notice there an "us." I don't really want to know there's an "us." Yet now people with diabetes are worthy of marketer's attention. Right up there with Lexus drivers.
8. How often do I really have to go to my endocrinologist? I just found a prescription to get lab work done from July 30, 2011. Oops.
9. Sneaking lunch into a noon movie, no sweat. Taking my shot in the dark, not so easy. Last time, I think I stuck the guy next to me.
10. I just checked my blood sugar and forgot the number! Alzheimer's? Dementia? Is it really true that lows cause dementia? Who cares, now I have to do it again!!
If you don't know if you have diabetes, find out. Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include family history, being overweight, having a sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and having given birth to a big baby. You can take the risk test on the American Diabetes Association website.
If you have any of the risk factors, have your health care provider give you a simple blood test. While there are times I'd rather forget I have diabetes, there is never a time I wouldn't want to know that I have it.
If you find out that you do have diabetes -- seven million Americans have it and don't know -- you can write your own list!
Riva speaks to patients and health care providers about flourishing with diabetes and is the author of "50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life and the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It" and "The ABC's Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes." Visit her website DiabetesStories.com.
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