Let’s Celebrate American Diabetes Month

Guess what! November is American Diabetes Month!!! Yes, an entire month to celebrate patients with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association is conducting a terrific campaign to focus on Diabetes – a letter writing campaign about what you want to say to Diabetes.  Do you want to share with the world how diabetes makes you feel? To do so, share your letter or video letter on any of your favorite social media using #DearDiabetes.

In honor of American Diabetes Month, I have a diabetes story to share from a diabetes educator viewpoint.  After wrapping up a great diabetes meeting in Chicago, along with a little personal time with my husband, it was time to head back home to Georgia. We caught an Uber ride to O’Hare to catch our late Sunday afternoon flight.  You know those initial awkward moments after hopping into an Uber – the luggage barely fit into the trunk, no leg room in the back seat, and blaring music that I couldn’t even understand the words). I wondered whether I should talk or not with the Uber driver, so I glanced over to see my husband reaction the music to my surprise he was looking straight head anticipating the trip back home and appearing to have tuned out the loud noise our driver called music.

As a true southern gal, I tend to jump into conversations rather easily as I have a true gift of gab.  The usual small talk commenced with my asking the driver about his work and hobbies.  Michael, the Uber driver, asked why I was in Chicago, so I excitedly shared with him about my serving on a board for a national diabetes organization. This opened the door to share my passion for diabetes education and my desire to help those with diabetes.  I had opened Pandora’s box without realizing it.  Looking back through the rearview mirror at me, with great curiosity he asked the question, “what are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?”  Without realizing what was about to happen, I had just opened the door for a very important conversation with this young man! In keeping it simple, I did my usual short summary when I have patients or students ask this question…being really thirsty, urinating a lot, and blurry vision.

Okay, we all know that this is not the complete list, but these are three major symptoms.  Again looking up in his review mirror he asked,”I wonder if I have diabetes?” He went to share. “When I worked at a paint factory, I would get nauseous sometimes and it got really bad a couple of times.  My boss said I had to get checked out to make sure I was okay.”  He said all of the tests came back normal. His story continued..”I do remember that I felt better after I drank some Sprite. Maybe I have diabetes?” I reassured him that he most likely does not have diabetes but rather maybe experiencing hypoglycemia (aka low blood sugar).  I described it as feeling shaky, dizzy, and like you are going to pass out.  He connected with these signs and symptoms. So I asked Michael, “… do you go long periods without eating?” He replied, “Yes, I feel this way when I am working out if it has been too long since I last ate.”  I encouraged him to eat a snack before working out, not to go more than 4 – 6 hours without eating, and make sure to have protein (i.e. cheese, nuts, meat) with each meal and snack.  Michael was grateful for the information I had shared with him.  And as always, I encouraged him to have regular checkups with his general practice physician!

A simple Uber ride to O’Hare provided an opportunity to share with Michael the seriousness of diabetes and low blood sugar- not to mention that the great conversation made the traffic seem not as bad! A great close to a great trip to Chicago!

#DearDiabetes #DiabetesMonth  #reecespiecesinadiabetesworld