Changes in One’s Diet is Not a Cure for Diabetes

I cannot see the E on the eye chart with my natural eyes. I know that the first symbol is an E because I’ve been taking eye exams since I was 10 years old.

Eye Char

Since the 5th grade, I’ve been wearing eye glasses, in high school I switched to contacts, and from college until I now I enjoy switching between the two.

I have needed corrective lenses for more than two decades in order to see “normally” and I have never  had anyone (not even once) say to me “eye glasses have cured your poor vision.” It easy for people to accept that my eyes are bad and they will be that way for the rest of my life. It’s widely accepted that carrots will not restore my vision. Matter of fact, eye glasses have become in vogue (thankfully) and people who don’t need eye glasses want to wear them.

Everyone knows that when it comes to having vision as poor as mine that Lasik is the only cure. Lasik eye surgery will give me the ability to see IMMEDIATELY and I will be able to donate my eye glasses and contacts to someone else because I will NEVER need them again. I may need reading glasses at some point, but my extreme case of myopia (nearsightedness) will be gone…FOREVER!

This, we get. This, I have no problem explaining. This, gets me urgent responses when I say, “Help, I can’t find my eye glasses!”

However, when it comes to diabetes, things are quite different. It’s hard for people to accept that my pancreas is like my eyes–another vital part of me that will NEVER be “normal” again. When I tell people that I manage diabetes with diet and exercise, some are determined to hear me say that I am “cured.”

Well, I am not.

Diet and exercise are like wearing contacts or eye glasses….they help me “MANAGE” the problem, it hasn’t cured it. 

Recently I got into a discussion with a man who told me that his father doesn’t have diabetes anymore after cutting sugar out of his diet, white bread and rice, soda, and some other things. Although this man was serious, I chuckled inside. First, I was thinking that diabetes isn’t something you can just get rid of. Diabetes is the name given when your pancreas no longer produces insulin effectively (or at all). Secondly, I wanted to tell him that the changes in his Dad’s diet (which I didn’t necessarily agree with) were “corrective” (like eye glasses), not a “cure.”

I didn’t mention these things, however. What I did tell him was that I was med-free also, but that my pancreas still did not produce insulin properly. That I still have to count-carbs, prick my fingertips to find out my glucose levels, and that if I eat what I think should be a “normal” piece of sweet potato pie that my glucose levels would rise higher and remain that way longer than if he (a non-diabetic) did the same. In short, I told him that “Diabetes ain’t cured, yet!”

A cure would be like Lasik, I would be able to donate my glucometer and all these strips to someone else because I would NEVER need them again. A cure would mean that I could go back to eating 3 starches rather than choosing 1 or 2 per meal. A cure would mean I wouldn’t walk around worried about having candy or juice for hypos, Splenda or sugar-free gum when I’m okay, and my running shoes for elevated glucose levels when I have indulged too much. A cure would mean I wouldn’t fear dying in my sleep. A cure would mean my mind could rest.

All we have now are “corrective managing devices” (diet, exercise, oral meds, and insulin), which is similar to my choice between contacts or eyeglasses for my eyes (until I can afford Lasik, that is).

IMG_4866Maybe one day, a balanced low-carb diet will become in vogue as much as my eye glasses.

3 Comments

  1. Arnebya August 28, 2013 at 11:11 am - Reply

    I’ve been meaning to come by and thank you. Your comments at BlogHer about advocating for yourself stuck with me to the point that I went back to my doctor (who still thinks I’m just a hypochondriac with “maybe” reason to be concerned). My fingers keep going numb when I’m up and moving. And I feel lightheaded, dizzy, incessantly tipsy. I KNOW something is up. She wants to blame hypoglycemia but the only way to diagnose that is to have me in the lab all day (and that’s IF the symptoms appear that day). My mother has been insulin dependent for over 15 years. Every test I take my blood sugar is fine (mind you it’s taken when the symptoms are not present). I think I need a new doctor.

    And I liken your situation to Magic Johnson. He’s never said he is cured. He has a specific regimen and meds that keep AIDS at bay but he still has HIV. I think as long as you continue to say what you’re doing to regulate diabetes, people will hear what they want. But in the end, they won’t be able to change your words.

  2. Jane August 13, 2013 at 10:49 am - Reply

    What bothers me the most are not ordinary folks, but diet gurus and diet doctors who claim that following a specific diet (whatever that may be) cures diabetes. These gurus as far as I’m concerned are in the same rank as snake oil peddlers.

    • Phyllisa August 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm - Reply

      Hey Jane,
      Yes! Yes! and Yes! I completely agree.

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