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.
There was a time when doctors couldn't get anywhere near Sherri Buffington with a needle. "I was deathly afraid of needles," recalls the 44-year-old senior legal secretary from Sicklerville, N.J. "I've been petrified of needles since I was a little kid."
Then in 2004, Buffington was diagnosed with diabetes. When oral medications didn't control her disease, her doctor prescribed an injectable prescription medication along with insulin. Taking these drugs meant she would have to inject herself, sometimes...
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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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.
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