Thursday, November 4, 2010

Diabetes Celebrities

Thursday, November 4th

Diabetes Celebrities-From rock stars like Bret Michaels to professional athletes like Jay Cutler, people with diabetes are showing how diabtes hasnot stopped them. Who's your favorite diabetes celebrity?

There are plenty of celebrities that deal with Diabetes, many of whom people are surprised to find out have the disease. Shortly after I was diagnosed, I became curious about that very subject. dLife has a great section on famous people with Diabetes, and provides a short article on that person and how the disease fits into their life.

You can read more about them on the dLife website:

I'm glad Bret Michaels (Type 1) has been such a vocal proponent of the StopDiabetes movement. I think it helps raise awareness when such a well-known celebrity shares that part of his life with the public...After all, if it can happen to someone famous, it can happen to a "normal" person as well, and people become interested.

I was surprised to find that Halle Berry has Type 1 Diabetes. I don't know why that is, but I'm sure it has to do with the fact that we generally tend to elevate celebrities in our mind as people who are beyond "common" illnesses...Which, obviously, is definitely not the case.  Michael J. Fox struggles with Parkinson's Disease; Patrick Swayze and Lance Armstrong, cancer.  Their illnesses have all been widely discussed in the media., so why is it that we never hear of celebrities who are affected by diabetes, other than Nick Jonas?  (I admire him for being so open and proactive, especially since he gives younger children and teens with diabetes a role model to look up to).  Is it because it's such a "commonplace", and generally chronic (rather than acute) disease?  I personally think it also has to do with the fact that the seriousness of diabetes is often downplayed, i.e. "He just has to watch his sugar;" or "Oh, she just has to take medicine/insulin, but it's not that big of a deal;" etc.  I honestly believe there is an overall lack of understanding of the implications Diabetes has on the lives it affects, and I hope that the StopDiabetes movement and American Diabetes Month will increase awareness on the subject.

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Anyway, I chose Halle Berry as my "favorite Diabetes celebrity" because although Ms. Berry's Diabetes and her comments on it have been a subject of debate in the medical world, she's a confident, beautiful woman. She has played in many big movies, including some with pretty intensive action roles. But, more importantly to me, she is also a mom.  On March 16, 2008, almost 20 years after she was diagnosed with Diabetes, she gave birth to Nahla Ariela Aubry.  One of my main concerns in being diagnosed was whether or not I would be able to have a successful, healthy pregnancy in the future.  My endocrinologist assured me that I would be "fine" when the time comes, but it's still a major focus of mine because it motivates me to be as healthy as I can be before we decide to have kids.  That I found out about my Diabetes before becoming pregnant is one of the things I've been most thankful for over the last couple of months, because now I'll be prepared to do what I can to lower my risk of complications and birth defects (which, by the way, is about the same as a woman without Diabetes if your numbers are within normal range before conception).

I've recently been reading up on the subject of Diabetes and Pregnancy, and a couple of books have been instrumental in increasing my knowledge and understanding of it.  The ADA's "101 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy with Diabetes" by Patti Bazel Geil and Cheryl Alkon's "Balancing Pregnancy with Pre-Existing Diabetes: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby" are the only books I've found pertaining directly to Diabetes in Pregnancy, as most pregnancy books only provide a small section on Diabetes (usually Gestational), and most Diabetes books only have a small section on pregnancy.  I was especially happy to find Cheryl Alkon's book, because it was published in 2010 and is, therefore, up to date on the lates medical knowledge, and is detailed in its scope of information.  The ADA's book on the subject is a bit more outdated, but still a good resource in question-and-answer format. I had to buy a used copy on Amazon because a new one wasn't available, so I'm guessing it's probably out of print.

I've been taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplements the last few months because their importance is stressed in every book on pregnancy that there is.  In his book "Get Ready to Get Pregnant", Michael C. Lu suggests taking them beginning as far in advance as a year before you plan to conceive, and any book will tell you it's a good idea if there's even a possibility that you could become pregnant, because they help to prevent birth defects in those crutial first few weeks of pregnancy (a time when most women aren't even aware they're pregnant, and when the heart, spinal cord, and nervous system are being formed).  This is especially important in women with pre-existing Diabetes.  My thought is that it definitely can't hurt anything, and at least if we happened to conceive without planning to, our baby would have the best possible chances of normal development.


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