Diabetes most horrid

Some people with diabetes are more likely to lose a limb than people involved in severe traffic accidents; and diabetics can die as quickly as cancer patients who are given less than five years to live.

These facts were some of the shock treatment truths that American foot and ankle surgeon Dr Steven Wells delivered to Barbadians in an effort to bring home the perils and horrible aspects of diabetes, at the start of the first Oscar Jordan Symposium last night.

“A person can be run over by a train, and you expect maybe they might lose their foot, but in diabetes you are losing more feet to sugar probably than you are in being hit by a train,” Wells told the audience that packed the Queen’s Park Steel Shed.

A section of the audience at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed last night.

He went on to make a comparison between diabetics and cancer patients with no chance of recovery, and who are expected to die in approximately five years.

“People who have ulcers and amputations, ischemic ulcers, and poor circulation die after five years the same way. Diabetes, if you don’t control it, can literally shorten your life.”

Surgeon Dr Steven Wells

The four-day inaugural symposium is being held in honour of the life and work of the late Dr Oscar Jordan, endocrinologist and co-founder of the Barbados Diabetes Foundation and the Maria Holder Diabetes Centre for the Caribbean.

Other presenters on the first night were Diabetes Centre diabetologist Dr Diane Brathwaite; Diabetes Centre nurse Kevamae Sobers; Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) nurse Veronica Webster; and QEH consultant surgeon Dr Margaret O’Shea.

QEH consultant surgeon Dr Margaret O’shea

“In Barbados, this [diabetes] is being passed from generation to generation, and it’s killing your kids like you would not believe,” said Dr Wells.

He pointed to obesity as the primary culprit in people developing diabetes.

The surgeon, who has a large number of Barbadian diabetic patients, touched on the matter of obesity against the backdrop of  a recent Pan-American Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization combined report naming Barbados as the country with the highest obesity rate in the Caribbean and Latin America.

“Obesity is contributing to diabetes,” he said, adding that this link is so strong that it has spawned a new term – diabesity“Diabetes and obesity now are teaming up.”

“Obesity leads to diabetes, to nerve damage, to micro-trauma, and the end result is Charcot [foot],” he added, explaining that the condition has to do with diabetes-caused erosion of the bones.

“Diabetes will cause pieces of your bone to wither away,” he said. “We have a lot of patients in Barbados who have Charcot foot. That’s when the bones of your foot start to drop out the bottom. They literally start to disintegrate and come out the bottom of your foot.”

From left: Event moderator, endocrinologist Dr Carlisle Goddard; Diabetes Centre nurse Kevamae Sobers; and QEH nurse Veronica Webster.

Aided by a number of charts displayed on a screen, Wells moved on from Charcot foot to a number of gruesome states of body deterioration that are likely to affect many people in Barbados, a country where one in five persons has diabetes.

“Diabetes affects your skin,” he said, and explained that while a person without diabetes routinely responds to dry skin by applying moisturizing cream, life is different for the diabetic.

“When you have diabetes, dryness can become deadly.”

According to Dr Wells, in instances of skin dryness, especially under the foot, what appear to be simply cracks on the skin are fissures going deep into the body.

“That crack in the skin goes all the way down, so having dry skin as a diabetic can be serious,” he warned. He added that it was like an open sore that leads to an ulcer, and many diabetic ulcers don’t heal and can lead to infection that spreads.

“Diabetes will cause your skin to become thicker, thickening and darkening around your neck. This thickening can get worse over time and if you are not careful, it could disfigure you.”

Dr Wells continued that in addition to those problems, diabetes causes damage to the brain and sexual problems in both men and women.

“Diabetes is preventable; you have the power to prevent it. So why don’t we prevent this before we get to the cure?” Wells pleadingly asked his audience.

15 Responses to Diabetes most horrid

  1. Watchman January 27, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Alcohol and tobacco have high taxes so that the consumers can prepay for the burden they place on the health care system.
    It is time sugar gets the same treatment.
    Perhaps it’s time to also abandon the useless sugar industry and grow different crops for local consumption.

  2. Hal Austin January 27, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Why should diabetics lose limbs? Govt should offer sufferers free annual eye tests, a three-monthly chck up with doctors, including weight, blood and blood pressure tests; they should also have their cholesterol check, all free of costs.
    Further, people should be given advice on diet and exercise.

    • Carson C Cadogan January 27, 2017 at 1:36 pm

      As far you are concerned Govt. should do everything under the sun.

      The individual has absolutely no responsibility for himself.

      Eat tons of macaroni pie everyday, wash it down with gallons of sweet drinks, eat as much greasy fried chicken and chips as the individual can from everyone selling fried chicken, eat no vegetables or fruits, drink little water per day, do no type of exercise at any time. Guzzle down all the rum Mount Gay can produce. Have a Big and Beautiful contest two or three times per year by stupid women and stupid men fool them how good they look. Get as big as the transport board buses and everything will be honky dory.

      When things go wrong, and they will, with your body then look to the Govt. as HAL AUSTIN suggest.

      • Chase January 27, 2017 at 9:42 pm

        Lol. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Maybe more in your face education is needed because Bajans seem not to be paying attention to the current information out there. Many still claiming, “Oh, it’s in my genes.” Smh.

  3. jrsmith January 27, 2017 at 10:29 am

    I cannot understand why so many people , who are diabetics in barbados looses limbs because of they diabetes.
    I was type 2 for about 11 years, have lots of friends blacks and whites who are diabetics and have never seen anyone who have lost a limbs because of they diabetes ….
    What I have noticed , people who not keeping to the regime of taking they medication having serious strokes some fatal , quite a number stuck in wheelchairs….

  4. Jennifer January 27, 2017 at 10:40 am

    @jrsmith – Honey they are paid per limb removal.

  5. Hal Austin January 27, 2017 at 10:46 am

    Oh Jennifer. Our doctors are the best in the world. Why do you think the wealthy and well connected always go off to north America and Europe if they are ill?

  6. Alvin January 27, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Stop taking insulin and the people would live longer. I have been diabetic for 7 years, they gave me insulin once and I told them never again. Some of these medications are killing people and the doctors keep giving out these medications. They are harvesting organs when people die, it now become a big business.

  7. Carson C Cadogan January 27, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    A friend of mine told me recently that he literately watch a man’s toes fell off from his feet when the bandage which his feet were tied with was taken off. The man was suffering from diabetes.

  8. Frog January 27, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Agreed Alvin, there is even a medicine which causes diabetes that no one seems to want to talk about because it is prescribed to people with presumed mental health challenges. It even has more side effects which lead to death but I guess as a bajan we prefer to blame sweet potatoes and not those things.

  9. Frog January 27, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Diabetes=exercise. I know it’s not that simple but they way I see it now it means to keep healthy with water, fruits and vegetables and exercise. The doctor will say all types of theory about pancreas not producing enough insulin and vice versa but we must remember that balance in life is key. Moderators don’t like my comment on how it is caused but control is important if you have it. I don’t doubt it can be reversed either but they probably won’t tell you cause they be taking your money so the responsibility is on the person who have it to get as well as they can. Feet is the big problem but it also affects eyes as well so total wellness is important.

  10. Jennifer January 27, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    @Alvin – SPOT ON. AND WHO OWNS THE DRUG COMPANIES? That pesky rabbit.

  11. Jennifer January 27, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Start paying the Doctors for the amount of feet they save from amputation and you will see how much systems are put in place to help people to keep their limbs, and heal quickly too.

  12. Dr. Ben Haynes PsyD January 27, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    Dr. Wells is not too late with his message. What we can hope for is, citizens will not be too late in understanding the dangers of this devastating, dangerous disease. Such a warning is for you and me, for everyone because diabetes does not discriminate, and once it gets hold on one it is too difficult to get rid of. So let us be honest here. It can be be avoided, treated, and controlled. Unfortunately, it here, it is an epidemic, and it is not getting any better. The fact is however, every single day there are new victims, and every week there are deaths from this dreadful disease. Whose fault is this? Everyone, and who can stop it? Everyone. How sad it is that everyone knows someone that is living or died from this disease. We can only hope that Dr. Wells’ message will make a big difference, and citizens will listen, and act so that living will not be in vain.

  13. Paula Foster January 28, 2017 at 2:30 am

    I am a Registered Nurse born in Barbados living in the UK. I am totally shocked at the high rate of amputations caused by complications of diabetes in Barbados, yes clinics and other medical institutions should be funded to give free eye testing chiropodist, dietician,Education,Exercise programmes ect for these patients with Diabetes mellitus. unfortunently some individuals are genectically predisposed to this illness but I guarantee you if the right channels were put in place,although some persons are not compliant, a lot of the issues would be resolved or should I say be under control;however one must look at affordability to eat healthy. ( vegetables,Fruits) . For me Education is key first. Fruits contains natural sugars , its the time you consume and the amount as well. so a well balance diet. stop frying, salt, seasoning contain sodium no need to add extra salt. bake. boil. no need for oil and butter in cooking, teach patuents to monitor glucose levels at least weekly and record the Data. you guys can do this. I have so much to say but limited at present, I would live to set up a programme called ; lets beat Diabetes Barbados “. One day Hopefully. not scaring people but to assist, give councelling, support, Education, ect. one day.


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