Staying positive with diabetes

SCENARIO 1: Puan Noraidah does not take the diabetes medication her doctor prescribes. She continues to eat indiscriminately, dismissing advice about her fat and sugar intake. Neither does she bother to exercise and lose weight. All in all, she doesn’t care that she has diabetes. 

Scenario 2: Mr Lee, on the other hand, went into complete depression when he was diagnosed with diabetes. For some reason, he was convinced that having a chronic disease was practically a death sentence. Rather than listen to his doctor’s advice, he began obsessing with the possibility of suffering nerve damage, going blind, getting his foot amputated ? or worse, dying of a serious complication like a heart attack, stroke or kidney failure. 

Scenario 3: Diabetes? 30 year-old Mr Rajen was stunned when he got the news. He was still young and thought himself to be fairly healthy. His doctor had to be wrong. Why should he change anything about his lifestyle? 

Everyone reacts differently when diagnosed with diabetes. Some take it easier than others do. But being told that you have a chronic, incurable disease is bound to provoke strong emotions, such as distress, depression, denial or even apathy.  

How will diabetes fit into your life? How will it affect your family? What’s going to happen to you? All these questions might be swirling in your head. But you won’t be able to deal with them until you have accepted the fact that you have diabetes.  

Diabetes can be controlled 

People are wrong when they say diabetes is a death sentence. Just ask the athletes, actors, singers, surgeons, corporate leaders and all others with diabetes who have gone on to achieve great things and enjoy life. 

Diabetes is presently not curable but can certainly be controlled. The key is to control your daily blood glucose level and keep it within “safe” limits. With good control, you will be able to feel well each day and prevent or delay onset of diabetes complications. And while it takes effort and discipline, it can be done and will gradually become a way of life for you. 

Many people think that they can leave the management of diabetes up to their doctor. When they don’t make any progress, they find themselves getting frustrated with the doctor. But it is not the responsibility of the doctor, nurse or even the dietitian to control your blood glucose – it is your responsibility. 

Managing diabetes begins with you. But you will not be alone in the journey, as you will have your healthcare team, other people with diabetes, family members and friends to support you.  

Time for a change 

Learn to manage your diet – it is actually very easy. The key is to eat a well-balanced diet so that you can continue to stay healthy and energetic. To avoid wild fluctuations of blood glucose, watch your intake of carbohydrates, especially simple sugars which hit your blood stream quickly, directly. It would help to reduce your sugar intake or substitute it with a low-calorie sweetener. 

Be active and fit – Pick up the pace when you walk, climb the stairs and wash your car manually. Make an effort to exercise regularly as well. This will make you feel better and healthier, as physical activity improves your glucose metabolism and helps you manage your body weight. 

Self-monitoring of blood glucose – In order to manage your blood glucose, you need to know what your levels are. You can check your blood glucose at the hospital or at the clinic. For better control, you can monitor it at home daily, using a small home glucose meter. Most involve pricking the finger to draw a drop of blood for testing. An alternative method is to prick the arm, which is just as easy to do and less painful.  

Strike up a partnership – Work with your doctor, diabetes nurse and dietitian to manage the disease. Go for regular checkups so that your doctor can monitor your overall control, look for warning signs of deterioration or complications, monitor your treatment and give you the right advice. 

Keep learning about diabetes – Read up on diabetes, healthy eating, exercise and blood glucose monitoring from leaflets, books and the Internet. Make sure the information comes from authoritative and orthodox sources (eg the Health Ministry or professional organisations). Exchange tips and experiences with others who have diabetes. Discuss with your doctor first if you wish to pursue traditional or alternative remedies.  

Making the change won’t be easy. But it will be worth it – for the sake of your own health and the people who love you.  

Know your blood glucose level 

Even if you think you don’t have diabetes, doctors recommend that you check your blood glucose level as a high reading could indicate a high risk of diabetes.  

Such blood glucose screening is important for adults over the age of 35 who are overweight, suffering high blood pressure, have high blood cholesterol or have a history of diabetes in the family. The same applies to those who had experienced diabetes during pregnancy or given birth to a big baby. 

From now until August 31, 2003, members of the public can get a quick and simple blood glucose test for just RM1 at all Guardian, Apex, Vitacare and Caring pharmacies throughout the country.  

Monies collected will be donated to the National Diabetes Institute (NADI), Malaysian Diabetes Association and Malaysian Endocrine & Metabolic Society.  

This community service is part of the ‘Donate Against Diabetes’ campaign initiated by ONETOUCH® Centre. 

‘Fight Against Diabetes’ is an educational programme by the National Diabetes Institute (NADI). To receive our free educational magazine, call (03) 5621 1408 or email It is supported by educational grants from EQUAL Sensicare Bureau and ONETOUCH Centre by LifeScan (a Johnson & Johnson company). 

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