It is always interesting trying to observe something that we don't ourselveslive with. Though I do not have diabetes, I am surrounded by it through family,friends and work on a daily basis.
This is a blessing in disguise, both for theeducation I receive on living a healthy lifestyle to ensure that I don't developthe disease (which is prevalent on both sides of my family) and for helping meassist the one person closest to me in this world – my dad.
When I returned home to Australia in November – kind of an annual pilgrimage forme – I found myself once again at my dad's house keenly observing his type 2diabetes management (he was diagnosed in 1997), which, as I understand, isdownright poor. My dad is my role model, mentor, father and best friend. So Idecided to bring him a new Bayer Contour meter after learning he had not checkedhis blood sugar in more than six months! It was a gift that he assured me hewould use if I brought it with strips – which I did.
One day my dad had just come home from work and we were preparing a big AussieBBQ. It had been a long, hot day – my toddler brothers were bouncing off thewall and everyone was getting hungry. The stress level was high. Dad had begunto become more and more uptight, and after he commented that his blood sugar waslow I asked him how he knew it was low if he never tested?
Have you ever tried challenging a person with diabetes at a high-stress time?Now I'm sure we all know someone who feels the need to justify his lack ofpro-activity in managing his diabetes. But it was the next thing Dad said thatmotivated me to write this: "I don't care about my health right now."
A feeling of defeat shot through me, although I knew this was ultimately not myfight or responsibility. All I could do was continue to encourage change.Pictures of his beloved mother, who passed away at 65 from a stroke due to poordiabetes control, suddenly flashed through my mind. I asked myself, "Is thiswhen he will begin to care, after it's too late?"
Having someone so close to me visibly affected by diabetes made it frustratingfor me to be around him. I felt like a nagging son. I was really hoping that hewould receive a message coming from me better than coming from his doctor. As myvisit stretched on, we got into constant discussions about testing blood sugar,eating better, not smoking, and of course, exercise! In the end, though, Ibelieve my whole trip went by without him taking even one BG test – something Icontinue to work on from abroad encouraging him to do.
Although my visit went by without much visible progress, both of us didexperience a definite feeling of achievement. My dad agreed that he needed tomake some lifestyle changes and even went in numerous times for lab work tocheck on his cholesterol, glucose and other indicators. In the end, I did beginto see a small shift in his attitude, from that of a man who says, "I just takemy pill everyday," to that of somebody who saw that he could control hisdiabetes rather than have it control him.
I could go on about the ups and downs of diabetes management I witnessed, but mygoal was to support someone I love dearly so that he could live a healthy andprosperous life. As I told my dad that day, "You may not care about your health,but I do." He is a brilliant man of whom I am so proud, and I just want him toknow that he has my unconditional support, always.