I’ve been very aware of my body for a very long time. I know that many of you will say, “Well of course you know your body, what’s new?” Well the truth is, and those of you with an illness I’m sure will concur, when you have an illness you have a new and intensified intimacy with your body, inside and out.
There are times when simple little things may turn in to big things. While I was away, working out-of-state, I noticed that the amount of gum I was chewing had increased sharply. You may be laughing at this point asking why chewing gum implies a symptom or illness. Well to tell you the truth, I didn’t think about it for a couple of months. When I returned home I began to wonder, much more focused, about what this could mean.
As I began to ponder what this might mean to my health it occurred to me that maybe I was chewing gum because I was thirsty. As I began to explore this as a symptom I began to wonder about diabetes. My maternal family has a long-standing history of diabetes. My mother was diagnosed about four years ago with diabetes and began insulin injections a few months ago.
It was time for my annual lab tests checking my liver function and lipid panel. When I called the nurse in the dermatology, I asked if it were possible for her to add a glucose test to the panel. I was hoping she would be able to add this test instead of sending me to my primary care physician for this non-dermatology related lab test. She did add this to my lab order.
I had the tests done and not only was my lipid panel great, my glucose level was right in the middle of the normal range. Obviously these results were great relief and one of those moments when I followed up an inkling in my body. Having this knowledge of my body, my family history, and an knowledge of common illness symptoms helps as I move through life as a person with a long-standing health challenge. My hope was not to add to the list of diagnoses on my medical chart.
How well do you know your body? How much do you know about your family medical history? Are you attuned to your body and do you notice subtle changes in your physical being? These are important on your journey to health and healing!
In the old days, before your diagnosis of a chronic or other life-altering illness, when you got sick you may have gone to the doctor, paid for an office visit and lo and behold you got well. There weren’t repeated trips and co-pays for office visits. There weren’t endless tests or supplies needed, maybe a bottle of Tylenol. The cost was minimal financially, and the cost emotionally and spiritually was minimal too.
Then you were given a diagnosis by the doctor and everything changed. You began to see your doctor more than you see some of your friends or family. Your new inner circle consists of lab technicians, insurance personnel, and your medical team. Chronic illness is expensive. Let’s take Type 2 Diabetes as an example. It not only about the costs associated with a change in diet, but the meter, the lancets, the test strips, and the follow-up lab work with the doctor. There is no end to the costs and for many this becomes a financial and thus an emotional burden.
This week the New York Times Online ran an article about the cost of Type 2 Diabetes. They state, “Already, this incurable and often debilitating illness costs the country’s health care system a staggering $174 billion a year.” They go on to say that because of the personal cost of managing the disease only about 25% of Type 2 Diabetes patients are getting the care they need. Don’t you think that’s shameful? Doesn’t the healthcare system and the powers that be understand that by not taking care of those with Type 2 Diabetes you end up taking care of patients with heart, kidney, and circulation problems. Does paying for test strips and meters costs less than having to hospitalize someone to amputate a limb?
The New York Times cites Consumer Reports Health in a report they produced stating that, “diabetes patients spend an average of $6,000 annually for treatment of their disease.” When you think of the cost, understand that these are net dollars. As a “civilized” society can we continue to look the other way and not treat those who need our help. Yes, there needs to be a partnerships and Type 2 Diabetes patients need to do their part (just as my mother is doing) by eating properly and getting enough exercise. It has to be a partnership, but a true partnership, not one in name only.
If you have a chronic illness what has the cost been to you? I’m not only talking about the financial cost, but the emotional and spiritual as well. Let your voice be heard!