My Vision for Diabetes: Don’t Claim It! Manage It!

April 25th, 2009


In the African-American community, where diabetes is a chronic problem, some people call it “just a touch of sugar.” Others see it as the kiss of death. Which is it? Well, neither. Not if the disease is taken seriously, addressed without fear or mythology and managed well. If the disease is approached proactively, a person with diabetes can live a healthy life.

That’s the message I want to share through Diabetes: Don’t Claim It! Manage It!

Diabetes is not only a physical condition, but also a condition that should be looked at through the prism of the patient’s mindset, emotions and spirituality. This holistic approach addresses aspects of self-care that are often overlooked, but that can have a huge impact on how people take care of themselves. Diabetes: Don’t Claim It! Manage It! will help you see diabetes differently – in the context of your whole life – accepting that this is part of life, but by no means the end of the road.

Because people of color tend to be people of faith, many of us approach our health challenges as a test of our spiritual beliefs. That can be a good thing. Even some folks in the medical community are coming around to the idea that prayer, meditation, affirmation and belief in a Higher Power can help keep us healthier and aid us in overcoming illness. For those who believe that you can use your spirituality to bring blessings into your life or push unwanted events away, the phrase “don’t claim it” is a spiritual affirmation of our faith – designed to help us fortify ourselves mentally and spiritually when we are fighting disease. But when we take “don’t claim it” to mean “ignore it” – and fail to seek the care we need – we put at risk the very temple created to house our spirit.  We don’t want to take it there. This blog reclaims “don’t claim it” as a statement of encouragement that you can use as armor as you cope with the challenges of living with diabetes. It’s an affirmation that you can overcome the disease – if you use all of the tools that Spirit has provided.

So, what’s to come?

Of course I’ll devote a lot of time talking about what you can and can’t eat. (Short version: You can eat pretty much anything you want. It’s all in how you do it.) I’ll also address the basics of good nutrition, building a diabetes-specific soul food pyramid, interpreting food labels, counting carbohydrates, and monitoring and managing your blood sugar levels.

Since a healthy weight and good fitness level are key to living well with diabetes, I’ll spend some time talking about diet – the healthy ones that work, the alternative ones that may have some benefits, and the fad diets that may do more harm than good.

But most importantly I want to hear from you!

After all this blog will be written just for “us” – because we need and deserve something that speaks to our unique relationship with diabetes. Some research indicates that we’re just genetically more prone to the disease – and the numbers seem to bear that out. Of the almost 24 million people who are diagnosed with diabetes, there are four million African-Americans who have the disease. A fourth of Black women over 55 have it; a quarter of all Black folks between the ages of 65 and 74 do too. And we suffer greater consequences from the long-term complications of diabetes than our less melanated brothers and sisters.

Not only are we more likely to have it, but we manage it differently than other people might. Our approach to exercise, our eating habits, our relationships with doctors – all of that has an impact on how we approach our health conditions. And all of that will be taken into consideration on this blog.

So, tell me. What do you hope to learn from Diabetes: Don’t Claim It! Manage It!? What issues are you facing right now? What fears do you have about diabetes? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.


7 Responses to “My Vision for Diabetes: Don’t Claim It! Manage It!”

  1. maria says:

    I have worked with Connie and she is an excellent advocate for men and women with Diabetes

  2. Jan says:

    As a diabetes educator, I welcome this site and will be checking it often. Improving my cultural understanding of diabetes in the African American community is at the top of my needs list right now. Great Idea!!!

  3. Ann Silver says:

    You are magical at turning things into gold! What a brilliant idea! And thank you for sharing both for patients and professionals.
    From my experience, the ‘manage it’ is understanding and helping the person to break down the management of their diabetes into the smallest simplest step that they can do.
    A fear I hear frequently from female African Americans is that they will have to be thin to improve their diabetes and then purchase a new wardrobe. I’ve learned a lot from my patients on this and we focus on the healthy, not necessarily the weight.
    Good luck and look forward to learning more.

  4. Debra Williams says:

    You are so right!! I am having a difficult time with my sister right now because ahe refuses to believe her son has diabetes (blood sugar 550). She said she won’t claim it – she’s using that phrase to ignofre and deny her son needs help. His appointments have been made by me, I follow ehr to the doctor because she will not take him if i don’t. She tells me I am blowing things out of proportion. This is from a sister who saw our mother suffer from every complication of diabetes. I AM SOOOO FRUSTRATED because I don’t want my nephew to suffer needlessly. I have diabetes and all of my siblings are pre-diabetic, including her.

  5. Connie says:

    Thank you for your comment Debra. Sometimes it’s hard for family members to take our advice. Hopefully, your sister might read this blog and come to understand that her denial is hurting her son. She should discuss “not claiming it” with her spiritual advisor. Ultimately, seeking care is an act of faith and understanding that the spirit works through people and requires action on our part.

    Peace and Blessings!

  6. Connie says:

    Ariana, thank you for reading my vision. Thank you also, for asking permission to take part of my post and use it on your site. Yes, you may do so but please be sure to link back and give credit to Diabetes: Don’t Claim It! Manage It! by Constance Brown-Riggs.

    Peace and Blessings!

  7. CrisBetewsky says:

    I’m glad that after surfing the web for uch a long time I have found out this information. I’m really lucky.

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