Last week The Oregonian published A Jazz Man's New Groove, about Thara Memory, a jazz trumpeter who lost a leg and finger to complications of diabetes "but not his fire to make music."
It wasn't an article that caught my attention in my daily review of the news; in fact, I probably wouldn't have known of it if it weren't for a reader of my blog bringing it to my attention. Vivki A. emailed me because she'd sent a letter to the editor of the Oregonian about the article. That was last week. The editors have not indicated they'll be publishing her letter, so I decided I'd publish it for her.
Your story headlined "Diabetes steals Thara Memory's [a well known local trumpet player] lower leg and fingertip" make me feel so sad - and angry. It would better have been headlined "Memory hands his lower leg and fingertip to diabetes".
No, I'm not blaming Thara Memory for the loss of his lower leg and fingertip. I'm blaming his doctors, who gave him such bad advice about diabetes management that he had no alternative but to lose those limbs, plus his kidneys, forcing him on dialysis and making him an invalid with a severely restricted lifestyle.
These diabetic-related complications could have been entirely avoided had his doctors given him the proper tools - which they obviously did not.
If his doctors were like the vast majority, they probably gave him some pills, told him to lose weight, gave him a copy of the ADA diabetic diet plan and sent him on his way. They might have told him to test 2 or 3 times a day without telling him what to do with the results of that testing. And maybe even told him he had "excellent" control when his A1C(an average of blood glucoses over a 3-month period) was 7 or even anywhere near that number.
What they probably didn't tell him was that if he could get his A1C to under 6.5 he very likely wouldn't have lost the use of those limbs. Or the use of his kidneys. Or be wheelchair bound. Nor did they tell him how to do this.
Although it takes some effort, it can be done. I have, and I know many diabetics who have.
I blame the American Diabetic Association, whose diet plans almost all doctors give their diabetic patients. The same ADA who advise diabetics that they can eat like regular people, just cut down on portion size and use artificial sweeteners. Sure, you can have that slice of pie, crust made with flour, under the filling - just be sure to use artificialsweetners in the filling.They don't tell diabetics that any grain, such as rice, or foods made with grain - such as breads, pasta, cereals, and yes, that pie crust - will raise BGs alarmingly.
The ADA actually advocates eating breads, pasta, rice and cereals. That's quite clear from the food you mentioned in the article that Memory was eating. Rice? Rice will for SURE raise BGs.
My point is, the diabetic "epidemic" could be well tamed if people were told how they could live a diabetic life and reach its end with all their limbs and body parts intact. It could be that they aren'tmotivated to make the effort. But doctors never even give their diabetic patients the information that this is possible. Sadly, they probably weren't even taught this in medical school.
In closing, I would refer you to a letter to the editor that appeared in the NYTimes last week in response to an article they printed about the ADA and its sponsors. For your convenience, I'll paste it on here. And you might be interested in reading the original article, which is referred to.
New York Times Letter to the Editor December 4, 2006
To the Editor:
"In Diabetes Fight, Raising Cash and Keeping Trust" (front page, Nov.25) points out the conflict of interest in the American Diabetes Association's relationship with drug and food companies that makedonations to the association.
Indeed, you even quote an official of the association as saying that sugar ingestion is of little consequence for prediabetics.
I have been a Type 2 diabetic since 1999.
The article claims that "obesity and inactivity are the key risk factors" for Type 2 diabetes.Perhaps for some, but I was neither obese nor inactive, yet my bloodsugar levels were off the chart.
I was fortunate in finding a doctor who advised me to cut back significantly on carbohydrates. By doing so, I am able to achieve normal blood sugar numbers without using drugs or insulin.Perhaps someone should inform the American Diabetes Association that carbs turn into sugar when digested. But there's no money to be madefrom such advice, which I have never seen from the American Diabetes Association.
Irwin LevineHastings on Hudson, N.Y., Nov. 25, 2006
Feel free to do any editing necessary to make the segue graceful (if you can, smile)