It’s World Diabetes Day and seems really appropriate to start a discussion here about health.
So, there I was at work about a week ago and I turned to Jenny, my co-worker, and asked her how she would define health. Pretty simple question, right? But, the answer gets a bit complex and is certainly going to occupy more than just this little post, I think.
Look at m and at yourself. We have Diabetes. A chronic, which means with us for life, disease. It’s there lurking in the background all of the time. So, if we have this disease can we be healthy? And, what in the world does ‘healthy’ mean? Advertisers and marketers certainly throw that world around like we should all know what it means, don’t they?
Why did I ask Jenny? Because she’s smart and takes a common sense approach to challenges. Basically, she’s a typical Mom. Anyway, her response was, “Being healthy is not being sick.” In other words, it’s the absence of disease.
I looked at Jenny and asked, “So, I can never be healthy?” Even though I feel better than I have in 20 or 25 years and have not had any real illness (other than Diabetes) in at least two years, I am not healthy by that standard. Something is wrong.
“No. No. You are healthy.” After thinking for a moment, she added, “On a scale of one to ten where one is an Olympic Decathlete and ten is terminal illness, I’d place you at three.” Jenny has already changed her definition. To her, I’m pretty healthy. And, I have her thinking about the definition of healthy.
And, you know what? A three on that scale isn’t too bad!
So, I started looking at standard definitions of the words health and healthy. The World Health Organization has one of the better definitions:
It’s still there, though. The “absence of disease or infirmity” is a deal breaker if I use that definition.
Heck, I know…KNOW I am not the only person in the world with Diabetes who is in the best health of their life. What is the definition that covers those with chronic diseases like Diabetes? Will I ever be considered healthy?
Those who develop definitions have not considered people who have Diabetes and are controlling it. Why? Is it that there are only a small percentage who are controlling it? Are those who are controlling it ‘outliers,’ as my son, Ryan, would term us? If that’s the case, how do we make the outliers the new norm?
I know – there are a lot of questions and I don’t have answers, yet. But, I am working on it. I do know I am the healthiest I have been in many years. I just wish that it didn’t take Diabetes to get me there.
You know, that’s the good news about Diabetes: You can control it and be in the best health of your life. What does it take? Using the three weapons you have in your War On Diabetes: Diet, Exercise and Meds (if they are prescribed).
Any comments gratefully accepted. If you don’t want to leave a comment, but want to offer your ideas, please feel free to use the comment form below.
The discussion is just beginning. Please help in the discussion and share your thoughts. A collective wisdom is not a bad thing.
Why is there a World Diabetes Day? There are 371,000,000 people in the world with Diabetes. That’s more than the populations of the United States and Canada combined! It’s got to stop. Diabetes is going to bankrupt health care systems and rob people of life and/or quality of life. Think I am kidding? The average cost per diabetic patient in the United States in 2012 is $7,900. Folks who have Diabetes can be healthy and enjoy the best quality of life in their lives; it just takes a bit of effort.
And, as always, thank you for reading.