Diabetes has been particularly cruel to the Vandross family. When famed
R&B singer Luther Vandross died last year at age 54 after a stroke brought
on by diabetes, he became the last of Mary Ida Vandross' four children to fall
to the disease. Mary Ida has also lost her husband -- who died at 39 -- and her
only grandson to diabetes.
"Don't suffer like I'm suffering. It's devastating to have to live with
this emptiness," she says. Currently, some 24 million people in the United
States have diabetes, and that number is expected to roughly triple by 2025,
according to the Yale School of Public Health and Medicine.
Does the light touch of a bed sheet make your feet burn? Does your heart sometimes race when you’re resting? Do you have problems with sexual arousal?
As different as these symptoms are, they can all have the same cause: diabetic nerve damage, also known as diabetic neuropathy. About half of people with diabetes develop nerve damage. The two most common forms are:
peripheral neuropathy, which affects the nerves that serve the farthest reaches of the body, such as the legs and hands;
Vandross, 82, has made it her mission to see that no other family has to
endure the same losses. She has teamed up with the national Diabetes Aware
campaign (www.diabetesaware.com), sponsored by Novo Nordisk, to educate
families about preventing and managing diabetes. "If you come together with
your family and talk about it, you can control it."
Atlanta-based diabetes life coach Stanley E. Hibbs, PhD, offers these
Make a payoff list. Controlling your weight, monitoring your blood sugar,
taking medication -- if you make a specific list of why such actions are
important (such as, "I want to play with my grandkids when I'm 70"),
you'll be more likely to do them.
Find a partner. Identify a family member or friend with whom you can check
in. "Have family meetings to talk about how you're changing your
lifestyle," suggests Vandross.
Set reasonable goals. If you need to lose 100 pounds, start small: Plan to
walk around the block with your family every night after dinner.
"I'm not just talking, I'm pleading with people. If diabetes is in any
part of your family, please have the rest of your family checked," says
Vandross. "I believe that had I known more about diabetes, I could have
been more helpful to my family. Take care of yourself -- that's all I'm
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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
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Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
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