2 posts tagged “diabetes complications”

Act Now for World Diabetes Day

Posted November 14th, 2011 by

Today Is World Diabetes Day

Today is World Diabetes Day, sponsored by the International Diabetes Federation.  An official United Nations Day since 2007, World Diabetes Day is held every year on November 14th to commemorate the birthday of Frederick Banning.  Along with Charles Best, Banning is credited with the life-saving discovery of insulin in 1922.

Why is there a need for a global diabetes day?  As the United Nations wrote in their 2007 resolution, diabetes is “a chronic, debilitating and costly disease associated with major complications that pose severe risks for families, countries and the entire world.”  Namely, it is the cause of four million deaths worldwide every year, with someone dying every eight seconds from the disease.

The global symbol for diabetes awareness is a blue circle, and supporters everywhere are encouraged to wear blue today to help spread the word about this pandemic.  You can also help get the message out about prevention.  While type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, research shows that, in many cases, type 2 diabetes can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active.  Regular walking for at least 30 minutes per day, for example, has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 35-40%.

We recently highlighted type 1 diabetes (and how it differs from type 2) in our blog post, “American Diabetes Month Kicks Off with T1 Day,” as well as our two-part interview with type 1 patient Michael Burke.  Here’s a little more information about type 2 diabetes, which accounts for at least 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide.  At PatientsLikeMe, 1,773 patients report type 2 diabetes, with 68% of them female and 32% male.  One of the most commonly reported treatments is Metformin, an oral anti-diabetic medication prescribed when hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) due to diabetes cannot be controlled through exercise and diet alone.  What do patients say about this drug?  Check out the 125 treatment evaluations submitted by our members, who share their experiences with dosage, side effects, efficacy, cost and more.

Diabetes University Takes Place Every Year on World Diabetes Day in Atlanta, Georgia

With a staggering 366 million people diagnosed with diabetes worldwide – and another 300 million at risk – it’s imperative that diabetes awareness and knowledge grow faster than the disease itself.  The new “Calling All Types” diabetes awareness campaign – an initiative of PatientsLikeMe and our partner BBK Worldwide – helped mark World Diabetes Day this past weekend at the Diabetes University 2011 event in Atlanta, Georgia.  Now in its 18th year, this event works to educate both medical professionals and the public.  Given that the prevalence of diabetes in Atlanta is a full point higher than the national average, Calling All Types has made Atlanta the focal point of the campaign’s initial awareness-raising activities.

Are you a type 1 or type 2 diabetes patient?  Share your story at CallingAllTypes.com in honor of World Diabetes Day.  For everyone else, “act now” by wearing blue, talking about type 2 diabetes prevention or simply taking a walk around your neighborhood.


Battling the Complications: An Interview with Diabetes Patient Michael Burke (Part II)

Posted November 9th, 2011 by

Last week, in Part I of this interview, PatientsLikeMe member and blogger Michael Burke shared his sister Linda’s struggle with type 1 diabetes.  Today, we learn about his own type 1 diabetes journey, including his June 2011 kidney transplant as a result of diabetes-induced kidney failure.

1.  What diabetes complications have you faced?

PatientsLikeMe Member and Diabetes Blogger Michael Burke

Diabetes is a disease that appears to be misunderstood by most people, in that the consequences of the disease can lead to many different complications.  As I mentioned earlier, both Linda and I suffered from diabetic retinopathy…essentially, you can go blind from diabetes.  Another complication is nephropathy, or kidney disease.  For me, this led to kidney failure and the eventual need for a kidney transplant this past June.

Heart disease is another major complication.  Personally, I never knew that I had any heart disease until one day my primary care physician sent me for a routine stress test.  During the stress test, the cardiologist felt it necessary to immediately admit me to the hospital and do a cardiac catheterization the next morning.  When he did, he found two blockages in my right coronary artery – one was a 90% blockage and the other was an 85% blockage.  I then had several stents placed.  After two years, those stents were becoming ineffective, and I required heart bypass surgery.  Lucky for me, there was a heart surgeon in Boston who was doing bypass surgery robotically.  What this meant for me was a much smaller incision (about an inch and a half compared to the whole chest being opened up), and being a diabetic, less risk of infection and a shorter recovery time.

Another complication is [diabetic] neuropathy, or nerve damage.  Typically, this usually affects the feet, but other parts of the body can be affected as well.  As for Linda and I, the neuropathy is/was primarily in our feet.  For Linda, it was extremely painful, with the feeling that you are constantly being poked in your feet with something very sharp.  For me, the feeling has been quite different, in that there is no feeling, at least around my big toes, which in turn has caused some balance issues for me.  Neuropathy is serious, it’s not just that it is painful for some and a loss of feeling for others.  It can also lead to amputation of your toes, your foot, or in drastic circumstances, part of or all of your leg.

2.  What was your kidney transplant experience like, and how are you doing now?

I went through a whole lot of emotions over the course of getting this new lease on life.  Although I had been prepared by my kidney doctor over the last several years that I was most likely going to need a kidney transplant, the day I sat with the transplant team for the first time was absolutely frightening and surreal at the same time.  It’s hard to explain.

I just remember sitting with the transplant team and when the transplant doctor said, “Ok, we will put you on the transplant list within the next few days, and we will move forward,” my heart was pounding so hard I thought it was going pop out of my chest.  There is also a lot of anxiety that goes along with the whole transplant process.  At first, I didn’t know where the kidney would come from.  I knew there were family members who said that they wanted to be tested and now I was also on the national transplant list.

Michael Burke's Brother and Kidney Donor Tommy

When my brother Tommy was starting the testing process, I kept going back and forth in my head.  It would be great to have someone close to me donate, but then there was the guilt.  If I ever rejected their kidney now they are left with just one.  As it turned out, Tommy was a 5 out of 6 antigen match, and he donated his kidney to me in June.

I had often heard before the transplant that you won’t understand how badly you felt or how sick you were before the surgery until after the surgery.  That could not be a truer statement.  I never really felt sick before, and I have been told that is because kidney disease can be very slow and progressive.  However, looking back today, I can honestly say that there has been a 180 degree turnaround.  I have much more energy and I just generally feel well – it has been a huge difference, and I have Tommy to thank for that.

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Are you a diabetes patient as well?  In honor of American Diabetes Month, share your thoughts and stories at CallingAllTypes.com.