Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Diabetes: Products You Can Use

People often associate diabetic products as monitors and test strips. While these are essential to a person with diabetes, the array of products that help manage the disease and some of its symptoms is vast.

I recently met Marta, a woman in her 50s who has lived a rich and interesting life as an athlete. She played tennis and golf throughout most of her life, and competively at certain points. Imagine her surprise when she was diagnosed with Type II diabetes a few years ago. This is the type usually associated with lifestyle choices and often controlled easily (if caught early enough) by changes in eating and exercising. Given her background, she had cultivated many healthy habits, so is struggling to figure out how to manage the disease without drugs. Because of her condition, however, she does not exercise as regularly and has gained some weight. One of the symptoms she struggles with is edema, serious swelling of her ankles and feet. We discussed the situation and came up with a few product ideas: compression stockings, a pedaler, a foot flexer and a bed wedge.

The compression stockings help control swelling during the day. Because her doctor had not prescribed a medical grade, she chose from a wide selection of "street" level compression, available in sheer stockings, socks, knee highs, thigh highs or pantyhose. She wears slacks every day, so the color choices of Juzo socks worked well for her. Sizing for this level of compression most generally goes by shoe size, unless the swelling is too pronounced in the ankle or calf. We are trained at Capabilities to measure for accurate fit.

Next, she told me that she works at a desk all day long. It is hard to get much exercise doing that and by the time she gets lunch, she just wants to put her feet up somewhere (also a good idea to help manage edema). The Foot Flex tool is simple to use and can tuck under her desk. She can work the back and forth motion easily, ensuring that for some minutes of every hour her feet are in motion, circulating blood AND stretching tight hamstrings and Achilles' tendons. She bought the pedal exerciser for use at night while she is watching TV or working on her scrapbooks. Its sturdy frame ensures that it will not slip while she pedals in a seated position. She can also use it on a table top, pedaling with her arms to get even more exercise.

Adding a bed wedge helps Marta keep her feet elevated while she sleeps. Relieving this painful set of symptoms can only help Marta return to an active life, which in turn will control her weight. While testing and monitoring diabetes are significant parts of the daily routine of someone with diabetes, adding a few additional tools to your overall management of this disease can have great results.

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