One of the many hats I’ve worn in my 47 trips around the sun, is that of a copyeditor. I kind of fell into it because of my innate writing ability and, if you ask my peers, annoying grammatical prowess. [I make no apologies.] A few years ago, I had the opportunity to work with a colleague on a study she was a part of at a local university. She did interviews with volunteers, who had been diagnosed with diabetes.
I transcribed those interviews.
As it so happens, the audience was primarily people of color, which made the information not just something I was typing and formatting in a professional, cohesive manner. It was something I was taking in—as a POC and empathetic observer. The answers to the questions were disheartening. Not because of the diagnosis, that has become all too common in the Black narrative, but because of the apathy hidden behind the façade of ignorance.
I worked in customer service for various industries, from 19 until 37, when I had my stroke. Of the many reasons that field is so attractive to those without a degree, and some with one, is two-fold. The pay is pretty good and benefits. So, between my mother and that “good job,” I’ve been fortunate to have always had health insurance. However, regardless of being kind of smart and part of a family whose medical history has put at least one wing on the local hospital, I did not always take my health seriously. Regular preventative checks, seeking help for medical issues, etc. were not a part of my young, naïve life until a blood clot tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Licia, you in danger girl!”
I say that to say, I was no different from the people in that study. I’ve always known more than enough to be smarter about my health. I’d venture to assume, that most of us have. We know that Grandmom lost her legs from “the sugar”. Uncle Pete didn’t have 2 heart attacks before leaving this world because he was an avid runner. Besides our personal, family history we all have access to the internet in some way, shape or form. Fad diets may be a fad but there’s evidence behind the marketing. Our health is at risk. There’s a diet version of everything including WATER, because adult obesity in America is 42% and 19.3% for young people, ages 2-19. (tfah.org, 2022) Our health is at risk.
We are inundated, literally bombarded with information. TV, radio, commercials, PSAs and the medical community are just a few sources that are telling enough information to at least start an internal conversation. So, why aren’t the numbers decreasing, or at least leveling off? One of the most impactful takeaways I received from my small participation with that study, was that the ball is in our court.
Yes, there are professionals, facilities and others that do not do everything they may be able to for each patient. Knowing that, it is incumbent of each of us to take whatever we’re given—whether it’s a warning, a pamphlet or just a dreaded diagnosis—and run with it. For our health. Before leaving, ask everything you can think of that may be remotely relevant to dealing with a health concern. Then, from the first foot out of the door of the doctor’s office, your research should start:
· What lifestyle changes may be needed?
· Are there dietary restrictions that would be of help?
· When will we follow up?
· Is a 2nd opinion recommended?
· What about a specialist consultation?
· What must I do to be saved? (Some of the Saints might recognize that question. It applies here, too.)
We leave so much, blame so much on the healthcare community, but at the end of the day we have the most to gain from arming ourselves with information. If it’s not given by them, seek it out yourselves. Trust me it’s out there. If you don’t know where to look, call us. We would be happy to direct you to the right resources to help you LIVE Better. It’s literally why we’re here!