Sanjiva Wijesinha -writer and physician

Short stories, Travel and Health Information

Diabetes – I is for Intelligence

Diabetes-fingerprick testing for blood glucoseThe Oxford English Dictionary gives several meanings of the word Intelligence. One definition is ‘the faculty of understanding’ while another is ‘knowledge communicated by or obtained from another’. In military parlance, the word Intelligence is used to mean Information.

People with Diabetes need both Intelligence and Information to manage their condition effectively, because their goal should be to prevent the complications of the disease, avoid the pitfalls of treatment – and maintain as normal a lifestyle as possible. In order to do this, one of the most important things they need is Intelligence in the military sense – Information about what the disease is and how it exerts its ill effects, what foods are beneficial and what foods must be avoided, how one’s medications work and what one needs to do in order to help these medications work.

Information about Diabetes is available from a variety of sources – one’s own doctor, diabetes educators, dietitians, nurses, books and the internet. It is vital if seeking information to go to the best sources. Just because you read something on the internet (even on THIS webpage!) you must not assume that it is correct – always check with authoritative sources.

One internet source I have found particularly helpful is that maintained by the US National Library of Medicine. Called MedlinePlus, it provides easy to understand, jargon-free information. Another good source of information is the webpage of Diabetes Australia.

I often tell my patients who are newly diagnosed with Diabetes that within a year of being diagnosed, they must educate themselves about this disease and come to know as much or even more than the management of diabetes than I do!

The other meaning of the word Intelligence is also important. If one has acquired knowledge and information about Diabetes, one must use this Intelligence to intelligently look after oneself. There is no point in knowing that chocolate cake with ice cream is highly glycaemic and will rapidly elevate your blood sugar – and then helping oneself to a huge plate of chocolate cake with ice cream every time you go out to a dinner party! If you must satisfy your craving for chocolate cake and ice cream, then take no more than two spoons of the dessert – measured with a teaspoon and not a pol-katu handha – and enjoy it by savouring each mouthful slowly.

Exercise is vital in the management of Diabetes – because every time you move your muscles you are burning up blood sugar. Regular exercise burns up more sugar than sporadic half-hearted attempts at exercise – and well trained and toned up muscles burn up more sugar than the unfit muscles of a couch potato. Once your Intelligence-gathering has yielded this information, is it not un-Intelligent to be a Diabetic and avoid physical exercise?

So the important second step in looking after your Diabetes is to learn as much about the disease as you can – to acquire Intelligence – and then have the Intelligence to use this information wisely to help you look after yourself effectively.



This entry was posted on May 1, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , .

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