A seemingly illness free life suddenly gets a rude shock and a reality check when a routine laboratory report shows blood sugar readings high. Many people may be absolutely asymptomatic at the time of diagnosis. Many others may have some minor symptoms like 2-3 kg weight loss, excess thirst or excess urination or night time urination. Or may suffer from a mild urinary, skin or chest infection.
Disbelief: The initial reaction of most patients is one of disbelief. Most will tend to say that the lab report is wrong. Or may even say that blood may have got mixed up. Although this can remotely be a possibility, testing blood sugars is very easy and generally mistakes are not made. And it is checked twice i.e. the urine sugar is also checked simultaneously. Hence mostly the report may be right.
Denial: this is generally the second reaction. Most will go to some other lab and recheck. This may be advisable. But some fast for more than 12 hours and recheck and a borderline high sugar may come normal. They then feel that the first lab report was wrong.
Rationalization: when they get 2-3 lab reports high, most start rationalizing and explain high sugars as related to recent stress or “mango” season or diwali sweets etc. and feel that once this phase is gone the diabetes will disappear forever.
Acceptance: many finally accept the fact that they have DIABETES and they need to initiate life style modifications and maybe drug therapy. Some people however remain in denial and they stop rechecking their sugars for many months. (Leading to complications in many.)
Alternative therapy: immediately as soon as the diagnosis is made much start seeking alternative therapies. Some standard and some bizarre alternative therapies are:
- Ayurveda, homeopathy, herbal,
- A special grass grown in Himalayas
- Put karela(bitter gourd) in a tub and mash it with your feet everyday till bitter taste comes in your mouth
The list is endless.
However since diabetes is a lifelong disease and easily diagnosed and can be very well controlled, it is better that patients come to terms with it as soon as possible. Upon acceptance patient should educate himself about various aspects of diabetes. When patient has better understanding of diabetes, they generally do not follow mindless alternative therapy. E.g. there is definitely some therapeutic advantage in Ayurvedic medications. But to date there is no cure. Also some ayurvedic medications may have heavy metals which may harm the kidneys.
Hence it is important to initiate lifestyle changes, daily exercise regimen, low sugar and low calorie diet as soon as diagnosis is made. If the sugars still remain high, it is better to go on medications. And also regularly monitor the blood sugars. And as per doctor’s advice do a yearly detailed health checkup.
Dr JACOB THOMAS