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5 Diabetes Myths vs. Reality: Diabetes Awareness Month Edition

 

Today we’d like to honor Medtronic clinical team member, Judi, whom we’ve invited to bust some diabetes myths! She lives with type 1, has both personal and professional experience with diabetes, and brings a wealth of knowledge during a very special month. Take it away, Judi!

Hello, and happy Diabetes Awareness Month! This is our time to shine, and the entire month is dedicated to educating others about diabetes and what that really looks like for someone living with it on a daily basis.

Along with education, we also get to celebrate those of us living, fighting, clawing our way through, thriving, _________ (insert whatever verb you are using today to describe your journey with diabetes). Yes, I said CELEBRATE! Diabetes can take as much of your life as you allow it to, or it can be a small part of who you are. I encourage you to choose the latter— diabetes does not define us!

Today, I want to talk a little about some of the diabetes myths you may have heard over the years. In my own 20 years since my diagnosis and 14 years in diabetes education, rarely do I think someone is trying to be intentionally malicious with their comments or questions, but the truth is, it can still sting. After all, you know your body better than anyone. Let’s dispel some of the misconceptions about diabetes:

 

MYTH: “You caused this to happen to yourself.”

REALITY: In reality, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body stops producing insulin due to environmental factors, a virus, or some other unknown trigger. A person with type 1 diabetes will begin taking life-saving insulin immediately. Many people have a “honeymoon” phase where the pancreas continues to produce some insulin for up to a year, often making initial management of blood sugars challenging for those living with type 1 diabetes.

And when it comes to type 2 diabetes, heredity plays a large role. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), if any of the following apply, you may be at higher risk than others for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes1:

  • Being over 45 years old
  • Having a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Partaking in physical activity less than 3 times/week
  • Having diabetes while pregnant (also known as gestational diabetes)
  • Giving birth to a baby weighing >9lbs
  • Being overweight (Body Mass Index >25.0)
  • Certain racial/ethnic groups (African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans) are at particularly high risk as well

However, you can do everything “right” and still be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

 

MYTH: “Your life is over.”

REALITY: When I was first diagnosed, I was checking my blood sugar 5-6 times/day and taking up to 6 shots. But now I have technology that gives me glucose data 288/day and a pump that automatically adjusts based on that data— my life definitely isn’t over!

 

MYTH: “Are you allowed to eat that?”

REALITY: This is the age-old question that can make a person with diabetes more upset than anything. The short answer is, “Yes, I can eat anything I want!”  Moderation is truly the key, along with considering how different portions, fullness, and other factors contribute to mindful eating, a healthy weight, and overall glucose control.

 

MYTH: “Why bother trying?  You’re just going to get the complications like Aunt Sue.”

REALITY: A diabetes diagnosis doesn’t mean you will get complications. While heredity and family history can play a large factor in prediabetes and diabetes, learning about health risks and taking preventive actions now may benefit you in the future. Reducing risks and maintaining your health includes2:

  • Checking your feet daily
  • Getting regular eye exams
  • Seeing your dentist as directed
  • Getting blood work as needed
  • Having regular visits with your diabetes healthcare team

 

MYTH: “I need to join the gym in order to manage my diabetes.”

REALITY: This is probably one of the biggest myths! You don’t need to work out for hours each day. If you can move even 30 minutes/day, 5 days/week, you may see an improvement in overall glucose control. Moving can include walking, biking, or simple chair exercises. You don’t have to run laps to help improve blood sugars!

You can be as quiet about your diabetes or as loud as you’d like. After all, this is YOUR choice and how you want to go about navigating your treatment and quality of life is ultimately up to you.

 

I truly love this month because it allows us to shed light on an invisible illness for those around us.  Diabetes can rob us of sleep many nights. It has added physical scars to our bodies, but also mental and emotional scars for us and those who love and care for us.  But diabetes has also created warriors: we fingerstick, give shots, exercise, count carbs, change infusion sets and sensor sites, and fight complications (like nobody’s business)! Never let anyone tell you that you aren’t a warrior – keep fighting and persevering! And remember, you are #MedtronicStrong!

 

The opinions expressed in this blog do not take the place of medical advice or guidance. Please reach out to your healthcare team if you have questions or concerns about your diabetes management.

 

References:

₁Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Prevention Program: People at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/about-prediabetes.html. Accessed October 10, 2020.

₂Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists. Living with Diabetes: AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors: Reducing Risks. https://www.diabeteseducator.org/living-with-diabetes/aade7-self-care-behaviors/reducing-risks. Accessed October 10, 2020.

 

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

– Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems.

– Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.

Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps

– Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day.

– Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.

Medtronic Diabetes Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Systems

– The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory fingerstick is required prior to treatment.

– Insertion of a glucose sensor may cause bleeding or irritation at the insertion site. Consult a physician immediately if you experience significant pain or if you suspect that the site is infected.

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