Thursday, April 30, 2009

How preventative do diabetics really need to be?

Sometimes it seems to me like everyone assumes I'm on death's door just because I'm diabetic. My current doctor isn't bad about it, but my previous doctor went way overboard on the preventative stuff. I've mentioned before about all of the cholesterol drugs he had me on. He even had me get the first immunization for pneumonia! As if I'm even close to being at risk for it! Had I known better then, I would have said no.

Another thing I frequently hear is that diabetics should always get flu shots. Um... Why? If we're in good control of our diabetes, there's no reason why we'd be more susceptible than anyone else. And even those who aren't in good control may not benefit from it, according to this article on why the flu vaccine doesn't work.

Just because you are diabetic doesn't mean that 1) you are susceptible to every little bug floating around, or 2) you need to buy into every single preventative treatment available to you. Don't be afraid to question conventional wisdom. After all, it's your body and your diabetes, and you know both better than anyone else could!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Keep your fingers crossed for health care

This is good news for diabetics and others in need of health care: President Obama is determined enough to get a guaranteed health insurance program in place to block a filibuster in the Senate.

I'm glad to see Obama taking action on this issue so quickly, and I am hopeful that his determination and skillful maneuvering bode well for the legislation. With the recession increasing the number of people without health insurance, this is now needed more than ever.

In my research for this blog post, I learned something I did not know. From Salon.com's article on the potential health care deal (emphasis added):

Because insurance is expensive, requiring people and businesses to pay for it is politically difficult. Most people now get insurance from their employers, but companies aren't required to offer it and as the economy skids more have cut back.


I didn't know that employers weren't required to offer health care. I thought they had to for full-time workers. So our current situation is even scarier than I thought it was, if even working full-time doesn't mean you will have health insurance.

According to the article about preventing a filibuster, there are 58 — perhaps 59 — senators who support health care legislation. Sixty are needed to break a filibuster. I don't know who the 41 or 42 dissenting senators are, but if you know yours is one, please write to him or her about supporting this important legislation!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rising costs of individual health care plans

This is an OLD article — my apologies for not blogging about it sooner. It's been on my list since February, but I just kept forgetting.

For most diabetics, this won't even apply, since health insurance companies legally can and will decline us for individual health care plans — but in February the media reported vast increases in the cost of individual health care plans.

Look at the numbers in this article — some of those increases are almost criminal! Blue Cross of Michigan was trying to increase their rates by more than half, for heaven's sake! Does no one see how terrible it is that our country allows health insurance companies to put such a ridiculous price on its citizens' health?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Diabetes and dementia

A week ago, a new study reported a connection between diabetes and dementia. Apparently type 2 diabetics who crash badly enough to go to the hospital are more likely to develop dementia later in life. It sounds like crashing that badly must do some kind of damage to the brain to increase the risk of dementia.

I'm not sure why type 1 diabetics aren't included, as I would think crashing would be just as badly for us as it would be for type 2 diabetics. However, I suspect the only reason is because the study was only done on type 2 diabetics, so they can only report the findings of the study. I hope someone does a similar study on type 1 diabetics or on all diabetics, but in the meantime I think it's safe to say that you should avoid hypoglycemic episodes.

Duh.

Studies like this one are good reminders that we don't know everything there is to know about diabetes — far from it. There could be many other complications that we still have yet to discover. To me, that just means that it's really important to keep my diabetes in good control. I don't want to "discover" a complication firsthand, thank you very much!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why education and not health care?

The other day, my mom and I were discussing the subject of universal health care in the United States. If you've read other posts on my blog, you know that I fully support guaranteed health care for all Americans. In my opinion, I can't be a proud diabetic without supporting every diabetic's right to quality health care.

Just the other day, I blogged about the horrific choice facing many diabetics who have been laid off or otherwise impacted by the recession: Pay the rent or pay for medication. Forcing good, hard-working people into making life-threatening decisions like that is just not right.

I support a system that would guarantee basic health care for all Americans, but continue to allow people to pay for upgraded health insurance if they wish. I see it as similar to public education. The United States guarantees every one of us access to a government-funded education, but if you don't like the public schools you are welcome to pay for your child to attend a private school. Likewise, every American ought to be guaranteed the care and medications they require to maintain good health — but if you want to be able to, say, choose a doctor that's not in the network or get coverage for non-necessary procedures, you could pay for your own health insurance.

So why are we guaranteed an education yet allowed to suffer and die if we can't afford health care? Personally, I don't think this was our government's intent at all. When education was declared a human right in 1948, health care was much more affordable than it is today. I think that if those responsible for writing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights knew what would become of the health care industry in the next 60 years, they would have made access to health care a basic human right, too.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Economic recession dangerous to diabetics

I blogged just the other day about free clinics providing services for diabetics. Today, though, there was a scarier article: A lot of diabetics aren't seeking out free or low-cost help, but are instead cutting back on their medications.

The article talks about how diabetics who have lost their jobs and/or health insurance due to the recession are cutting back on their medications in order to save money. The cost of medications for an uninsured diabetic is given as $350 to $900 per month, which blows my mind. That's nearly the equivalent of the rent or mortgage for many people.

To me, this article demonstrates why the United States so badly needs universal health care. Forcing someone to choose between having a place to live and staying alive at all is not right. Furthermore, not only does this type of thing hurt the people cutting back, it also hurts the rest of the people, whose health care costs go up in order to absorb the cost of hospitalizing these people when their health deteriorates.

It's in our best interests to ensure that everyone, especially people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, have guaranteed access to health care. I think our current administration understands that; but how many more will suffer because they can't afford their medications before something will be done about it?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Uninsured diabetic? Check out free clinics

Having diabetes, especially type 1 diabetes, is a big deal because without insurance, most of us would be unable to afford our medications. This just gives us another reason to worry in the current economy, with unemployment — and therefore the number of uninsured — rising.

If you don't have insurance and make too much to qualify for government aid, you should look into free clinics in your area to help you get medical care and medication. Community resources like these are lifesavers for diabetics and others who have to take expensive medications in order to survive, yet have low-end jobs that provide neither health insurance nor enough income to buy them on their own.

Do you know of free or low-cost clinics in your area that you could list here to help other diabetics? If so, please comment!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Raising future type 2 diabetics

...and I don't mean that in a nice way.

I just saw an article reporting that 1 in 5 preschoolers are obese. Really?! Have diets really gotten so bad in the United States that by the time kids are four years old, they have a 20 percent chance of being obese?

This is horrific for many reasons. One, research has shown that being obese in childhood dramatically increases the likelihood that someone will be obese as an adult. It seems that the body creates a sort of set point during childhood and adolescence, based on the individual's weight during these formative years.

Two, people's habits as adults tend to be sharply influenced by their childhood and adolescence. So if an individual doesn't get into a habit of being active and eating well during their youth, chances are not good that they will do so as an adult.

And of course, obese people are much more likely to suffer health problems as adults, such as heart disease and... you guessed it, type 2 diabetes. In fact, there has been a rise in recent years of children with type 2 diabetes. Now that's scary.

Type 2 diabetes, which stems from a resistance to the insulin the body produces (rather than an inability to make insulin, as in type 1 diabetics), is not always caused by lifestyle and obesity. I know several people who are pre-diabetic, and all of them are thin and reasonably active. Unfortunately, type 2 diabetes that IS caused by obesity and lifestyle problems is becoming much more common.

What all of this means is that if you are allowing your child to become overweight at age 4, you are potentially condemning them to a lifetime of health problems and struggling with their weight. Use common sense, people — get your kids outside, away from the TV and video games, and quit feeding them junk food!