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Demystifying Diabetes: Understanding the Disease, Myths, and Management

Diabetes shouldn’t be complicated, and Certified Family Nurse Practitioner Falon Sisson is hoping to change how those diagnosed with the disease understand and manage it. 

Falon Sisson, NP
Falon Sisson, NP

What is diabetes?

There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 occurs when your body’s own defense system mistakenly attacks the cells that make insulin, so you need insulin from the start to manage it.

Type 2 involves various issues like your body not using insulin well and problems with insulin production, so the body might need different medicines to handle these issues.

Self-management is key

Falon explains, “When it comes to managing diabetes, two important things are your diet and exercise. Understanding which foods can affect your blood sugar and making exercise a regular part of your routine is like having a superpower. Think of these changes as important as taking medicine – consistency is key.”

“Diabetes education is all about giving you the tools to manage your condition,” adds Falon. “Your blood sugar levels can be influenced by many things, and to make the right decisions, you need to collect data. Using tools such as a glucometer, or more innovative technology with a continuous glucose sensor, will allow you to see what variables are affecting your blood sugar in real time. These insights can lead to impactful changes.”

Understanding the challenges

As someone who received a diabetes diagnosis 15 years ago and as a parent of a child living with diabetes, Falon understands firsthand the challenges this disease can present. She says, “Living with diabetes can be tough. You have to make significantly more decisions every day compared to someone not living with diabetes. That’s a lot to handle! But you’re not alone. Healthcare providers are here to help. They can offer you resources to make your journey easier, from advanced technology to mental health support and diabetes education. We are continuing to see exciting advancements in both medication and diabetes technology, which can reduce the burden of making constant diabetes decisions as well as improve outcomes.”

Dispelling diabetes myths

There is a lot of misinformation about diabetes. The myths Falon hears the most include:

  • Weight loss is helpful, but it’s not a magic cure.  
  • Diabetes is influenced by many factors, not just genetics.  
  • Changing your diet to control diabetes isn’t just about avoiding “white stuff”. You can still enjoy sweets in moderation.
  • Fruit is healthy, but it can affect your blood sugar, so portion control is key.
  • Insulin is a treatment, not a problem-maker. It helps control your blood sugar and therefore reduces the risk of complications.

“With knowledge and support, you can thrive, make informed choices, and live life to the fullest. Remember, you’re not alone on this journey. We’re here to help you every step of the way,” Falon adds.

Falon Sisson is a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Memorial Health System, where she supports patients of all ages in primary care. She also serves as Memorial’s Diabetes Program Coordinator, committed to helping patients navigate this complex disease with her arsenal of tools and education. For more information, visit wearememorial.com/diabetes.

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