Ann Richards Ketcham remembers when diabetics used huge glass syringes they had to boil every day. She remembers the large needles. She relives the image of patients experiencing the pain that came whenever those needles pierced the skin.
A lot has changed since 1976, when Ketcham was the first part-time staffer hired at the newly opened American Diabetes Association office in Tulsa, Okla.
So much has improved. Those needles don't hurt as much as they used to. Meters to test blood sugar are now the size of iPods, much smaller than when they filled small suitcases in the mid '70s.
More and more people are managing their disease.
"We unfortunately still see too many complications," Ketcham said recently, as she talked about her work over the past three decades. "In the mid '70s, only half of the people with the disease knew that they had diabetes. We have gotten that number down to a third. But there are still a lot of people in Tulsa, Okla., who have diabetes and don't know it."
When she tells the story of diabetes and Oklahoma, Ketcham, now the office's executive director, kept coming back to a common theme -- people still don't realize how serious the disease is.They know what it is -- a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. But they don't understand what it can cause.
Ketcham reeled off a series of facts from memory: Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults. It's the leading cause of nontraumatic amputations. It causes kidney failure, strokes and heart disease. It's something doctors can proclaim as a cause of death. Every 60 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes in the United States."The good news is -- we thought this in the 1970s, but we didn't prove it scientifically until the '90s -- good control of the blood sugar on a daily basis can delay those complications," she said. "That is the really good news. If you educate yourself about the disease and take care of yourself properly, you can live a very productive and active life. "But still, we lose a lot of people. It's hard to watch diabetes take them." Diabetes isn't something that Ketcham grew up with. She doesn't know anyone in her family living with the disease. But after spending years in Niger in west Africa with the Peace Corps, she came back to her native Tulsa with service in mind. She had helped the poorest of the poor. She wanted to come back home and help people who, like those she lived with in those small African villages, simply didn't know how they could improve their lives. Ketcham wanted to teach them. Soon, she found the ADA. In 1976, the word epidemic started being applied to the word "diabetes." For 30 years, that label has never been peeled off. The ADA estimates that 20.8 million children and adults in the United States, about 7 percent of the population, have diabetes. One in 15 has diabetes >
Source: Health & Wellness
Free Diabetic Recipe Book
Get your free meal guide and recipe booklet today, packed with more than 60 recipes to help you or your loved ones better manage diabetes symptoms.
Click here to get yours!