By Patrick Totty
Are you suffering from diabetes information overload?
I know I am. After I was diagnosed with type 2 almost 20 years ago, I plunged into as many sources of information about diabetes as I could find on the internet and bookstore shelves.
After a while, though, I reached the point where I recognized that in many cases I was reading the same information over and over, and although it was being presented as fresh, it was simply reworded information.
My reason for bringing this up is that as a contributor to Diabetes Health I receive daily updates from several (10) medical sites that either deal exclusively with diabetes or very often carry news about it.
As much as I like having access to abundant sources of information, I realize that in a way those sites labor under the same information overload that I do. They have to constantly come with new articles or fresh insights about diabetes, and many of them resort to publishing lists to capture readers’ attention: “7 Ways to Lower Blood Sugar,” or “12 Foods You Should Avoid,” or “Why You Still Need Carbohydrates in Your Diet.”
In many cases the lists are helpful reminders of actions or thoughts that people with diabetes should keep in mind. But after reading 656 “Do This-Don’t Do This” lists, I think the information for most of us has become a blur.
(Slipping in among these benevolent and well-meant lists are the hucksters and conmen peddling “diabetes reversal” and “the diabetes cure the medical community doesn’t want you to know about.” There are so many of them that they too get lost in the information puddle that sloshes around in my head and the heads of many others.)
I’ve arrived at a partial conclusion about how to avoid the smell of ozone that comes pouring from your ears when you are suffering information overload. I call it “Divide and Conquer,” Here’s how it works:
First, think of the one diabetes topic that most concerns you. I call this the “Prime Topic.” Is it hypoglycemia? Which insulin(s) to take? A better love life? Consistently high blood sugar counts? Pick that one topic to pursue to the exclusion of other topics.
Second, when you run across an article that deals with your Prime Topic, copy it and set it aside to explore later when you are relaxed and have the time to delve into and think about it.
Do not worry that you are somehow cheating yourself because you’re not checking into other topics as well. The internet is like a person who has a photographic memory. Tell your browser to search for articles that relate to almost any diabetes topic you can think of and you’ll be rewarded with dozens or hundreds of relevant links.
Third—and this is very important: Compare the information you find about your Prime Topic and see how relevant it is to your current stage of diabetes. I mention this because it cannot be stated enough: Each person with type 2 diabetes has a different diabetes than the next type 2. We all endure the same malady, but in different ways. I compare it to the general fact that while we are all human beings the specific fact is that every one of us differs from others in personality, skills, attitudes, etc.
But even restricting your searches to the Prime Topic can still result in information overload—which brings up a fourth point: It’s OK to be “ageist” when it comes to diabetes information. Older articles may have information you’ve known about for some time, so referring to newer articles is probably your best place to start. You are looking for new takes on diabetes, ones that make you stop and say to yourself, “I didn’t know that!”
Keep in mind that almost all of the inspiration for diabetes research is based on previous findings. If Scientist A has proposed a new way to look at insulin resistance, Scientists B, C, and D will see if they not only can duplicate A’s findings, but also strike out in different research directions from there. The old saying that many a great scientists has uttered, “I stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before me,” applies here.
Finally, there is a refreshing informal approach you can take to absorbing diabetes information. It’s in the realm of the personal. Joining a support group, whether it meets face-to-face or online, can give you a lot of insights about your Prime Topic. Nothing beats comparing notes and getting tips and pointers from others who truly know your situation.