Early in my career as a young specialist, I had two diabetic patients who happened to see me in my clinic at around the same time.
Mr. A was a 40 year old executive working for a telecommunications company. His company doctor had referred him to me because they noted that his fasting blood sugars were around 7.0 to 8.0, which was in the diabetic range. When I first met him he was rather disturbed with the sugar levels and had read up about all the complications of Diabetes Mellitus and he was behaving as if he was already very sick and that he was going to easily pick up infections. He came to the clinic wearing mask and gloves (and this was even before the days of swine flu and corona virus). There was no family history of Diabetes and his sugars were high because of poor eating habits, no exercise and a stressful job. I had to give him a lot of reassurance, referred him to the dietician and advised him on lifestyle modification. In fact I did not give him any medications and asked him to try lifestyle change for two months and see. He bought a home glucose monitor to check his own glucose levels.
Mr. R was a 46 year old Vice President of a multinational company in charge of Asia Pacific. He was just promoted and his base was Kuala Lumpur. He was an Insulin Dependent Diabetes since young and was on high doses of Insulin. He came to see me to get his regular supply of Insulin. When I first met him I was surprised that he was full of enthusiasm and was always very positive. He travelled a lot because of his job and was still able to keep his diabetes well controlled. He did his own monitoring and knew how to adjust his Insulin dose as needed. I asked him how was he able to keep his excitement up all the time, and he said that he was so grateful that someone had invented Insulin, otherwise he would be dead long ago and that’s why he believed that he had to live life to the best of his ability.
Two different people with the same disease but with a completely different attitude towards the problem. Over the years I have often come across persons like this. Those with a positive attitude always seem to do better, whether it is dealing with a severe disease like cancer or stroke or even overcoming an infection like pneumonia. In a pandemic that we are facing now I believe it is again our attitude that is important. We have to take all the necessary precautions and stay positive.
So what happened to Mr. A and Mr. R.?
Mr. A had his good and bad days. His worrying and negative attitude did not help and he could not manage his lifestyle and had to start medications. His diabetes was controlled but he was still negative about his disease. After about two years he got transferred to another state and I lost contact with him.
Mr. R got promoted and went back to America, his company’s headquarters. He send me a card when he reached there to thank me for looking after him and positive as always.
I believe in life we have to be more like Mr. R, grateful for whatever health we have and to make sure we look after it and to always stay positive.