I Have Type 2 Diabetes, Now What? How I Started to Cope as a Black Man
In my previous article, I shared about the challenges I faced in 2005 when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 54. Today, I want to continue sharing my journey as an African American man living with diabetes. It was an emotionally challenging experience, and I went through what is commonly known as the five stages of diabetes acceptance. Having lived with type 2 diabetes for almost two decades, I have come to realize that denial is usually the first stage of grief that most people with diabetes go through. This is followed by anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance.
You've Been Diagnosed with Diabetes. Now What?
During the initial years of my diabetes journey, I experienced a lot of denial, anger, and a lack of support systems specifically tailored for African Americans and others with diabetes. Some of my fears revolved around not believing my diabetes diagnosis, concerns about potential medication side effects, frustration with finger pricking and insulin injections, limited access to medicines, and a lack of resources aimed at African American men with diabetes. I remember telling my wife that I believed my doctor was wrong because I didn't feel unwell. The truth is, I was in denial and didn't want to face the life-altering consequences of the disease. These early years were overwhelming and filled with frustration, worry, anger, and burnout.
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Managing my diabetes included checking my blood sugar levels multiple times a day, making healthier food choices, being physically active, remembering to take insulin, and worrying about fluctuating blood sugar levels. In addition, there were financial concerns related to copay expenses and potential long-term complications like heart disease or nerve damage. The stress of it all pushed me to seek help and support. I reached out to the Howard University Diabetes Treatment Center and was connected with an endocrinologist and diabetes educator who helped me navigate my stress and challenges. I also started openly discussing my diagnosis and challenges with friends and family on social media, which provided some relief as I discovered others going through similar experiences.
However, one of the biggest challenges was finding a support group specifically for Black men with diabetes. I craved interaction with individuals who could truly understand what I was going through and learn from their coping strategies. Unfortunately, 20 years ago, there were limited or no support groups available in my community. I recognized the importance of addressing my denial, anger, stress, frustration, fatigue, and decision-making difficulties related to my diabetes care. While my wife, Angela, provided incredible support and reminders to monitor my blood sugar levels, take my medications, and prepare diabetic-friendly meals, the fear of potential complications still weighed heavily on me. It was clear that I needed additional support.
The lack of resources for Black men with diabetes angered me. In my next article, I will delve deeper into my emotional journey of denial and anger, and how I navigated through the five stages of diabetes acceptance. If you're interested in learning more, I encourage you to join iMedix's Type 2 Diabetes Facebook Support Group, where you can connect, share, and learn from others.