Life and Limb

I tried to explain to a pro-lifer at the Town Hall that the high infant mortality in the US means that for every baby who dies, there are many others who suffer unnecessary disabilities. What a price to pay, over a lifetime.

Thousands dead from lack of access to health care means that many more suffer from diseases that could be prevented or treated. Here’s one we see all the time. From AP…

Limb-salvage experts say many of the 80,000-plus amputations of toes, feet and lower legs that diabetics undergo each year are preventable if only patients got the right care for their feet. Yet they’re frustrated that so few do until they’re already on what’s called the stairway to amputation, suffering escalating foot problems because of a combination of ignorance — among patients and doctors — and payment hassles. [read the rest if you want a very informative article about the cost of diabetes]

That it’s labor-intensive to provide wound care is not a total loss. Money spent employs workers who pay taxes. Kind of stimulating. And if the Canadians ever attack, Americans are going to need two good legs to defend the border.

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3 thoughts on “Life and Limb

  1. Having had diabetes for 21 years and using insulin the whole time(even though I’m a Type 2)I know a little something about this.
    Denial is what kills a lot of people.Diabetics also have to be their own doctors to a certain extent.They have to learn what to NOT ignore.
    Three years ago I began having pains on activity that were not classic for angina,but I suspected it anyway because I knew the nerves in my chest were compromised by the disease.I followed it up at the VA and I turned out to have a 95% blockage in my right coronary artery.It was stented and it’s been okay since.I had low cholestrol,good sugar control,and NO family history of heart disease in anyone on either side under the age of 80-90.I was 59.
    I have so far avoided kidney disease,retinopathy,and foot/leg problems except for mild stasis dermatitis(non-ulcerative)which has been self resolving from intermittent attacks.
    I am often frustrated by the disease,but there is no getting away from it.
    The whole point of this is that you must get aggressive about dealing with complications,because your doctor can’t hold your hand.

  2. Surviving diabetes without complications takes an aggressive, well-informed patient and a good medical team.
    You’re doing all you can do, and you have the medical care you need. I’m glad that your vigilance has paid off.
    I’ve noticed that there are a lot of people with diabetes who are just not up to the task, and it’s a huge task. But I’m not ready to write them off. Most of them are good responsible people in many ways, but this is one area of life they don’t manage well. As you know, diabetes management is a full-time job.
    Access to care for everyone would save millions of Americans from needless suffering and premature death. There will always be individuals who do better or worse, but public health looks at populations. We could truly have the best health care in the world if we commit to doing it.
    And being a nerd, I think the blood glucose meter is one of the most empowering gadgets ever invented.

    • I have made some serious mistakes druing that oeriod.In the last 3 or 4 months my A1c was bad because of a lot of family stress with things happening to members of my family that had all my attention.I’m back on track now..The meter is the ONLY way to get any kind of good control.
      I wasn’t being at all judgemental about people who are in denial.It’s a tough problem that never goes away nor lets up and all of us have times when we can’t keep pace.It’s just that you can’t let that become routine,because then you’re looking for trouble.
      My brother in law is probably going to lose one or both legs if he doesn’t get his head out of his ass.
      He’s a nice guy and I hate to see it happen.he’s caring for a father with Alzheimer’s and he withdraws from any conversation onthe topic odf diabetes.He NEVER tests his blood glucose and eats stuff like coffeee cake,chips,cookies,and regular soda.Regular soda is good for a sudden hypoglycemic episode,but not for anything else.He recently had a serious infection in his leg which required Cipro.That is a stopgap-you can’t take that all the time and expect it to make up for lack of care.
      He has good health insurance,so I don’t know what to say.
      The other day at a group therapy session for diabetes at the VA I turned out to be the longest diagnosed patient and shared both what to do and what NOT to do from my experience.It is an interdisciplinary group consisting of a doctor,nurse,clinical pharmacist,nutritionist,psychologist and with a social worker as corrdinator.Oh,yeah,and the patients,many of whom are just diagnosed.
      A social worker is a good choice as group coordinator because she has the skills to get people of diverse capabilities to work together with the patients. So I finally said something good about social workers.
      Why a psychologist?Because even people with no particular psychological problems have to deal with a traumatic emotional situation when they get that diagnosis.I’ve dealt with it so long,that it is just part of my life,like cancer has been on and off for 28 years.I adapt well to medical adversity,but we’re not all the same,and there are different kinds of adversity.
      Thanks for bringing up a nuts and bolts health discussion which has minimal political overtones.

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