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Friday, November 8, 2013

Diabetes and Family

Renu Joshi, MD
Chief of Endocrinology at PinnacleHealth System

Renu Joshi, MD
I have seen it all. Over twenty years of caring for patients with diabetes, I have seen its innumerable consequences. Among them all, I have been struck the most by the devastating effects it has on families and how hard it is for families to cope with this terrible disease. Its effects run far beyond the many organs that it damages: the eyes, heart, kidneys, skin, brain, feet and the list goes on.

While I feel for the ways in which families are negatively impacted by the disease-in other words what the disease does to families, I am equally struck by how much families can impact the disease positively—in other words what families can do to help the disease process.  Food habits are a major example. If the entire family is eating whole grain pasta, it makes it so much easier for the diabetic patient himself to follow healthy diet habits.

What many diabetic patients do not realize is how much it actually affects their spouse. As an example, many of my Type 1 Diabetic patients’ wives cannot get adequate sleep because of a constant concern that their husband may not develop low blood sugars at night.

So my humble request is for families to take an active part in controlling this chronic disease in their loved ones. Such care pays rich dividends in that complication rates are so much lower when the disease is well controlled. Get involved in the life of your diabetic counterpart by cooking the right food, eating out sparingly and exercise together. Listen to what they are experiencing and visit the doctor with them so you can learn how to take better care of them.  Such care will positively transform the life of your loved one.

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