The importance of diabetes management
By Kenneth Martin, MD, UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine – Pennsylvania Avenue

Managing, or lack of managing, diabetes:
“But I feel great!” is a statement I hear often during discussions with some of my diabetic patients having difficulty following their prescription medicine routines. They don’t feel sick; the medications may have temporary side effects, so they think they are better off without them. What’s not realized is the damage taking place internally that affects your blood vessels and nervous system, adding proverbial straws to the camel’s back. By the time most people take notice, they already have some decline in kidney function, nerve damage leading to neuropathic pain, and other conditions that cannot be reversed at that point. It is very difficult to keep people motivated to fight against something they are not consciously aware is happening.

The partnership with your PCP:
Many follow up doc visits begin with the phrases “I have been bad” or “You are going to be so mad at me”. Your doctor is a person just like you are and have the same temptations. We are not here to tell you what to do…the relationship must be a partnership in order to succeed. If your diet or lifestyle patterns are dictated by cultural or religious views, speak up so those can be considered in the planning for your treatment. If there are physical limitations your doctor is unaware of, make them known so appropriate activities can be recommended. I always impress upon my patients that they are the centerpiece in the control of their diabetes, and making recommendations that they either can’t or won’t do is no good for either party. Playing an active role in disease management makes a world of difference.

No matter where you are, there are lots of resources online and locally. The Kehl Diabetes Center offers classes, support groups, and programs designed to help you gain or maintain control of the condition. The staff there can help develop a comprehensive care plan that can then be coordinated with your primary care provider. There are also local resources available for those at risk of developing the condition through the Kehl Diabetes Center as well as the Dubuque Community YMCA/YWCA. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

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