A Perfect Storm
Its hurricane season again.
I used to think that hurricanes were things that happened to other people, but after watching water gush into my basement windows during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, I learned that it can happen to anybody. And watching the people in Louisiana lose everything they own to the recent floods is heartbreaking. Just 10 years after being decimated by Hurricane Katrina they are back in the same position again.
Oddly enough, the recent monsoon rains in Louisiana were not getting much media attention. With all the craziness around the presidential race, and the police shootings, and the Olympics—and Gabby’s hair, and Usain being with somebody not his fiancee and Ryan Lochte and white privilege…the poor folks in Louisiana just got ignored. While we focused on less serious things.
Its kind of like prediabetes. When the physician advises that a person is “prediabetic”, most breathe a sigh of relief. “At least its not diabetes.” And we can go back to Kanye and Kim or whatever you distract yourself with. I hate to break it to you, but prediabetes is most certainly diabetes! How?
First, the Center for Disease Control defines prediabetes as : Having prediabetes means your blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal—but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes. (Here is a nice infographic for people who learn better from visual examples).
For those who want to see the numbers, prediabetes means that that you either 1) have a fasting blood glucose over 100mg/dl (that is when your blood sugar is measured when you haven’t had anything to eat for 12 hours or more or 2) a Hemoglobin A1C of 5.7 – 6.4 ( The A1C test is a blood test that reflects the average of a person’s blood glucose levels over the past 3 months).
As I see it, if a sweet potato pie is still a pie and midnight is still night, the prediabetes is diabetes. This is especially true, since without weight loss AND moderate activity, 15-30% of people with prediabetes will be diagnosed with full blown Type 2 diabetes within 5 years. In my case, I can get with the moderate activity, but I have been trying to lose baby weight for a while–my daughter is almost 18 years old–so I am at risk!
So prediabetes has all the elements of a perfect storm:
- Elevated blood glucose or A1C levels
- Difficulty or inability to lose weight
- Finding time to consistently engage in moderate activity
- Believing that prediabetes it is not a big deal–after all, its not “diabetes”
The outcome shouldn’t be a surprise. Remember all the people stuck in horrendous traffic during Katrina, with no way to get out of the city? People sitting on the roofs of their homes waiting to be rescued? All the sadness, suffering and loss? It was awful, and those folks couldn’t do anything at all about the storm. For years and years they were told that it was coming, and when if finally came they were not prepared.
Fortunately, prediabetes is a little different. Yes, it is a potential “perfect” storm. And it may seem that prediabetes means that contracting Type 2 diabetes is inevitable. Well, the diabetes is already here, but the great news is that it can be reversed and it does not have to turn into Type 2. But not if you sleep on it.
The Plan? Take initiative and find out your level of risk, (visit https://doihaveprediabetes.org/ ) and follow up with your physician, there is a great chance the storm of Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or avoided altogether.
I will say over and over in this blog, one size does not fit all. Certain drugs work differently on different people. Some diets or nutritional plan work for some and not for others. Everybody can’t afford to go to a gym or lives in a place where they can walk safely at dawn or after dark. So many of us live in places where getting fresh and nutritious food is difficult, and fast food is cheap, plentiful and tasty. We have jobs, families, responsibilities to manage everyday. Its hard work, beating back a condition like diabetes. But people are successful at it, and I hope that this blog will help you find the tools and resources to fight the good fight.