Type 2 diabetes is very common amongst First Nations people. Your body gets energy by making glucose from foods like bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, milk and fruit. To use this glucose, your body needs insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps your body control the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood. Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which your pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or your body does not properly use the insulin it makes.
Some of the symptoms of diabetes are hunger, extreme thirst, weight loss, the need to urinate frequently and blurred vision. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important that you ask your doctor about diabetes. The earlier you are diagnosed the more likely you are to be able to avoid complications associated with diabetes.
Sometimes diabetes can be controlled through lifestyle change; diet and exercise but sometimes medications or insulin are required to keep your blood sugars within a normal range. It is more important for your blood sugar to be stable than to stay as a diet controlled diabetic. If you are diabetic, your doctor will probably check your blood once every 3 months to see what your average blood sugar has been over that time period.
We have a diabetes conference day every year, which is generally held in the fall. This day includes speakers on a variety of topics around diabetes. We include some self care activities as well as massage and foot care.
Foot care is offered to all diabetics living in the community. The goal of foot care is to prevent skin breakdown and foot ulcers. Once every 6 to 8 weeks the nurse will cut your toe nails, assess your feet for any changes to the skin, check for sensation and pulses and give your feet a massage to promote circulation.
We have access to the Aboriginal Diabetes Team through the office. They help us in the development of programs around diabetes. They also perform individual home visits for those living with diabetes around Southern Vancouver Island.
On Thursdays we are doing healthy eating tips at the “being together” day gathering in the After School building. We are taking favourite foods and modifying them into more nutritious alternatives. Some of the examples of what we have made are chicken curry, chilli and sushi. We are also brining in new foods to try.