I went to Starbucks to get a coconut latte and to write my “AskNadia” column. I love the leather chairs that are usually situated right near the power outlet. There were two I could see from the ordering counter and one was taken.
I ordered my drink and b lined it to the brown leather chair hoping no one would get there before I did. Once I sat down, the women occupying the other seat asked me if I spoke French. We started chatting about language apps and other random topics; bantering back and forth. At one point she asked me what I did professionally, I told her about my website diabeteshealth.com and my publication, Diabetes Health magazine.
My new acquaintance, Ginny, shared with me that she has type 2 diabetes and was on Glyburide; a type 2 diabetes medication, that stimulates the pancreas to produce more insulin. Once Ginny started taking her new medication, she began experiencing terrible side effects; tingling in her feet nausea, swelling, light headed. Her list went on and on. She continued to say, “I hated how I felt, so I just stopped taking my medication. Now I feel great.”
As Ginny was talking, I was going back in time and remembering a similar conversation I had with my mother 17 years ago. Like Ginny, my mother, at the age of 63 decided she did not like the side effects of her medication. She just stopped taking it one day without discussing her decision with her healthcare professional. This later proved to be more problematic to her health and shortened her lifespan dramatically.
Ginny reminded me of my mother; intelligent, educated, eccentric Berkeley grad that misunderstood her diabetes. My conversation with Ginny was an exchange of experiences. I didn’t judge her; I simply was hoping that she would come to the conclusion that she needed to see her healthcare professional, to figure out which medication will work best for her. I shared how my mother passed away 2 years after she stopped taking her medication.
The statistics for patients who don’t get their prescription filled immediately after seeing a physician is higher than one would think. This number goes up for non filled prescriptions after the first year. The most common reasons for the decline in filled prescriptions, are cost and side effects.
The good news about the cost is that there are programs that will help bring your out pocket cost down. As for the side effects, people with diabetes need to know they do have options. If you start with a medication that gives you side effects that you don’t like, simply ask your Physician to give you a different one. You don’t want to stop taking your medication and have it impact your health adversely. You might feel fine initially, like Ginny, but you really don’t know the full impact unless you speak to your healthcare professional.
Ginny went on to say that even though she stopped taking her medication, she was exercising more and has changed her diet. She told me ”I just don’t want to be on a type 2 medication” I told her that was fantastic and she should let her healthcare professional know that this is her ultimate goal; to control her diabetes with diet and exercise.
By the time Ginny left, she understood why it was important for her to find a different medication, and work towards going off of her mediation with the guidance of a healthcare professional.
It was wonderful to see her “Aha moment” when she realized she could stop taking her medication; plan it out more carefully and do it under the supervision of her healthcare professional.
As Ginny walked out the door, I was thinking how my mother’s life has inspired me to listen and understand people’s challenges, without judging them.
My mother passed away 17 years ago, yet she is still a great teacher to me and continues to have a positive impact on people living with diabetes who cross my path.
Nadia’s feedback on your question is in no way intended to initiate or replace your healthcare professional’s therapy or advice. Please check in with your medical team to discuss your diabetes management concerns.
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Nadia was not only born into a family with diabetes but also married into one. She was propelled at a young age into “caretaker mode,” and with her knowledge of the scarcity of resources, support, and understanding for people with diabetes, co-founded Diabetes Interview, now Diabetes Health magazine.
Nadia has received 19 nominations for her work as a diabetes advocate. She has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, and other major cable networks. Her publications, medical supply business, and website have been cited, recognized and published in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal, Ann Landers advice column, former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca, Entrepreneur magazine, Houston News, Phili.com, Brand Week, Drug Topics, and many other media outlets.