January 2013 my blood-glucose level was over 550 mg/dl and I was diagnosed “prediabetic.” After spending countless hours in the emergency room waiting to either be seen by a doctor or go into a diabetic coma, I was finally given the “don’t do sugar” lecture along with metformin, the requisite drug for type 2 diabetes, and sent on my way. After a year of taking the medication, I decided enough was enough.
You have to understand, I already know how this all plays out. You take the meds, eat fewer sweets and carbs, do some cardio exercise and check your glucose levels regularly. It works for a while, but then…
The meds stop being as effective so the dosage is increased. Then after another period of time insulin is added to the regimen…then it’s blood pressure meds…and heart meds. Now you’re a walking pharmacy- if you’re fortunate enough not to have your foot amputated, that is.
Speaking of amputation…I had a client, black male, mid 50’s, who had lost protective sensation in his feet due to diabetic peripheral neuropathy and wanted to see if my neuropathy foot massage would help him regain feeling. As I gathered more information from him before the treatment, he told me that his doctor suggested amputation. He had been struggling with diabetes for a while, but his feet were not gangrenous or ulcerated and I saw no reason for the doctor to send him directly to amputation without passing go and collecting $200.
So I asked him if the doctor was just using a scare tactic to convince him to take his health more seriously and implement some necessary lifestyle changes.
“No,” he said, “he (the doctor) just said that it was only going to get worse so I might as well do it (amputation) now.”
Really? Is that the best our healthcare system has to offer? Surely this doctor knows that up to 50% of diabetics die within two years of having a foot or leg amputated. Of course, some of that has to do with old age and comorbidities, but not all.
Maybe this doctor was just giving voice to an (unconscious?) bias that exists in healthcare. Giving voice to the reason why there are Starbucks on every corner in some neighborhoods and dialysis centers on every corner in other neighborhoods. I was angry, disgusted and determined not to go down the same road.
My determination to beat diabetes has been reinforced by watching my younger sister and mother, type 1 and type 2 diabetics respectively, struggle with it for years. My sister has taken the insulin injections and medication and what did it get her? Loss of vision in her left eye and a long wait on the kidney transplant list. There has to be a better way than simply managing the symptoms until the complications pile up. I was determined to find that way.
After a ton of research and answering questions like this from medical professionals,
“What exactly does this massage do for your legs and feet? It’s an irreversible chronic disease. (Diabetic),”
I developed a multidisciplinary approach to do MORE for people who struggle with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. It’s a simple 3-step process:
(1) Manage symptoms (2) Optimize health and wellness (3) Reverse diabetes. With these 3 steps, we can then (4) Eliminate diabetic nerve pain (neuropathy). Manage, Optimize, Reverse, Eliminate- MORE, get it? (I got acronyms for days.) This approach doesn’t just treat the symptoms; it gets to the root cause of type 2 diabetes. If you treat the cause of type 2 diabetes, the symptoms will disappear. High blood sugar is a symptom of diabetes, not the cause. Most treatments and programs for diabetes treat the symptom but not the cause.
I implemented these 3 steps in my own life and stopped taking diabetes medication in 2014. I am no longer considered “prediabetic.” I wish I would have known this earlier, I could have helped my mother and sister avoid numerous medications and complications. But now I know. And knowing is half the battle.