Small Steps Lead to Big Improvements for Patients with Diabetes and Other Chronic Conditions

Noe Lopez, FNP-C, Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist, Cucamonga Valley Medical Group

By Noe Lopez, FNP-C

Thankfulness. One dictionary describes the word as “expressing gratitude and relief.”

Many of us have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 24 months in a variety of ways. Regardless of your occupation or which region of the country you live in, we have all been impacted in some form or another.

Sadly, as a medical provider, I have witnessed the effect the pandemic has had on our most vulnerable populations throughout San Bernardino County. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated that those with underlying medical conditions pose the highest risk for severe outcomes from the COVID-19 virus.

According to the most recent statistics reported in 2018, 45% of adults in San Bernardino County have at least one of the following chronic conditions: kidney disease, obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, Diabetes Mellitus and/or obesity.

We have learned that most of these chronic conditions could be attributed to lifestyle factors such as nutrition habits, lack of physical activity, smoking and stress.

Recently, I conversed with a diabetes patient that I serve who was discharged from a hospital after suffering with complications from COVID-19. I asked him frankly, “Now that you are home, what is going to be your first change in your lifestyle?” He replied, “I’m going to be more serious about my diabetes.”

I believe that most people are aware of the long-term complications related to diabetes such as eye, kidney, nerve or heart disease. But most people are unaware that with uncontrolled diabetes your body has a weakened immune system and there is greater inflammation travelling throughout the circulatory system.

As a diabetes educator, I often encounter ambivalence when encouraging a patient to make a behavior change. There is ambivalence because the status quo is familiar and easy whereas change requires time and effort.

I have found the strategy to overcome ambivalence is to have the patient speak aloud why the behavior change would benefit them. As we close out the year of 2021 with an attitude of thankfulness, I encourage you to also have an attitude of hopefulness for a greater future ahead.

What is one behavior change you can make in your lifestyle to improve your diabetes? Are you going to quit drinking sugary beverages such as soda? Are you going to step out and start a walking program? Is this the right time to quit smoking?

We can all make small steps to improve our health, and I encourage all of you with or without diabetes to speak aloud with confidence what your behavior change will be.

We should all be mindful of the wisdom shared by Mahatma Gandhi, “The future depends on what we do in the present.” Go make that change.