World Diabetes Day and My Expat Australian Brother
I come from four generations of type 2 diabetes. On World Diabetes Day, I think of my brother, Jamal, who lived in Australia. To my great misfortune, he passed away at 53 from diabetes complications (“An Unexpected Grief Down Under”). I miss him so much. In the last years of his life, he took insulin to manage his diabetes. But unfortunately, being a nicotine smoker for thirty-five-plus years contributed to his high blood sugars and passing.
The CDC reports that insulin-dependent smokers need to know that nicotine makes insulin less effective.
Unfortunately, most of us do not understand how complicated diabetes can be. Even I know smoking is bad for you. But it took me years to learn the connection between nicotine and the effectiveness of insulin.
For the first ten years of Jamal’s diabetes life, I had no idea he had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. We lived in two different countries. The thirteen-hour difference in time made it challenging to communicate regularly. Like many people, he blamed himself for his diabetes, making him less likely to admit or reach out about his new diagnosis. My mother once told me that my former partner, a type 1, made managing diabetes look easy. My mother and brother’s struggles with type 2 diabetes made them feel unsuccessful. Giving up and feeling motivated was like a sea saw. When they spoke to me, they felt more confident. The challenge was to stay motivated.
My brother did make it to the U.S. for his 50th birthday. It was then that I learned of his diabetes, allowing me to help him where he felt stuck.
I coached him daily until he felt more confident in managing his diabetes. He later called me to tell me he had not felt this great in years. Giving up his cigarettes was close impossible for him. After being admitted to the hospital for a stroke, he only temporarily quit smoking.
My brother lived in a country where access to medical care was excellent. His health insurance was not the issue. Diabetes education is what was missing from his therapy. Since then, we have had more online access to be with a supportive community that helps us be our best—people who share our challenges.
Since then, I have coached many people and have had wonderful results. It is the most rewarding experience to impart my knowledge from science-based research on the latest therapy, teaching you how to advocate and work with your healthcare professional. Once you understand the obvious and not-so-obvious variables that impact your blood sugar, you will feel in charge of your diabetes. Instead of feeling at the mercy of your diabetes, you will know how to self-correct and what to ask your healthcare professional.
I don’t believe in blame and shame. No one knows how difficult it is to manage diabetes unless they live with it firsthand. The reality is that you are not always at fault for a high blood sugar. There are circumstances beyond your control that can shoot up your blood glucose readings. Like prednisone or the release of cortisol from exercise,
If you are tired of the diabetes roller coaster and are ready for a diabetes reset, I am offering a six-week coaching class with nine different class times for you to attend. If you sign up now, you can start by joining my private diabetes coaching Facebook group early. The start time for classes is in February 2023. By signing up now, I can support you in the challenges you are facing between now and then.