DYNACII's Life Coach
November 27, 2012

I feel powerless not being able to help my sick uncle

Dear Life Coach,

I am an 18-year-old male, and I have had a very good relationship with my 37-year-old maternal uncle all my life{{more}}. During my developmental years, my uncle was always energetic and happy, and a good role model to me. Today, I am in college because of him; he encouraged me and helped me with my tuition fees which my parents could not afford. Over the past year, however, I have noted a dramatic change in my uncle and I am concerned that he is not well; he is constantly depressed, anxious, irritable and fearful. I have never seen him like this before. In talking with him, I have come to realize that he has not been sleeping well, he suffers from constant headaches, and he has been experiencing a lot of pain all over. In short, he is a total mess, in comparison to what I know of him. He has also been missing work frequently due to his ill health and he complains that he is unable to concentrate while he is at work. He has been to the doctor a couple of times, but he has only been given painkillers which have not been effective. My uncle has helped me all my life, for which I am so grateful. It pains my heart to see him deteroriating before my eyes and I feel powerless to help him.

Grateful Nephew (GN)

Dear GN

Your uncle has been a strong support for you all your life, and you feel that it is now your turn to be there for him.

Your Situation:

A number of factors are at work here: potential hypoglycemia, medical evaluation, nutritional evaluation, dietary adjustment, stress reduction, and exercise, among others. These I will address briefly.


Hypoglycemia is a chronic state of low blood glucose, which causes both physical and psychological symptoms. Blood glucose is a type of sugar that exists in the blood and provides energy for all cells in the body so that they are able to function. The physical symptoms of hypoglycemia include varying combination of the following: exhaustion, insomnia, headache, dizziness, sweating, tremor, rapid heart rate, and muscle pain. The psychological symptoms of hypoglycemia include depression, anxiety, irritability, crying spells, phobias, and poor concentration.

Medical Evaluation

Although your uncle has been to the doctor on a few occasions, it is possible that his condition has been misdiagnosed or overlooked, since the symptoms of hypoglycemia mimic several other conditions. Also, many doctors may be more focused on screening for diabetes (high blood glucose), rather than for hypoglycemia (low blood glucose).

Nutritional Evaluation

Since blood glucose levels are influenced by our dietary intake, once diagnosed, it may be important to be evaluated by a nutritionist, who will be able to provide dietary guidelines or a dietary plan/meal schedule that will help your uncle to maintain his blood glucose within the normal range. Since blood glucose may be stabilized with the appropriate diet, this means that your uncle may be able to regain his health with a change of diet.

What to Do

Medical Evaluation

Encourage your uncle to visit his doctor and request a medical evaluation for hypoglycemia.

Dietary Adjustments

Encourage your uncle to make dietary adjustments including the following: 1. Eliminate Refined Carbohydrates: Eating sugary foods and foods made from white flour causes blood glucose to spike rapidly, then fall rapidly, which will increase the symptom of hypoglycemia. 2. Consume Whole Grains and Nuts: Having a balanced diet, which includes whole grains and nuts, will help to ensure that his blood glucose remains more stable. 3. Taking Multivitamins: Your uncle should take a multivitamin supplement to ensure that his body is properly nourished, as nutritional deficiencies will increase the symptoms of hypoglycemia. 4. Avoid Caffeine: Caffeine which is found in coffee, sodas, tea, and some pain medication should be avoided, since it lowers blood glucose dramatically, thus increasing the symptoms of hypoglycemia.

Eliminate Alcohol Intake

Alcohol also creates instablilty (rapid rise and rapid fall) in blood glucose. It also disrupts the function of the hormone (insulin) which regulates blood glucose level. If your uncle uses alcohol, encourage him to quit.

Eliminate Nicotine Use

Nicotine also causes a sharp spike in blood glucose, followed by a sharp drop, which in turn increases the symptoms of hypoglycemia. So, if your uncle smokes, now is a good time for him to quit.

Avoid Stress

Maintaining a stress-free life is important to your uncle’s health. This is because stress influences the production of the hormones, which are responsible for maintaing blood glucose at a normal level. Stress reduction strategies include walks, exercise, recreational activities, talking and visiting with friends and family, watching a movie, listening to music, gardening, swimming, biking, and getting adequate sleep, etc. Encourage your uncle to do one or more of these activities (or other recreational activities that he likes) at least twice each week.

Weight Loss and Exercise

If your uncle is overweight, encourage him to lose weight, since excess fat in the body interferes with how insulin works to regulate blood glucose level, which in turn can increase the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Good nutrition, weight loss and regular exercise help to decrease body fat, which helps to normalize blood glucose. Walking or stationary cycling are exercises that are recommended.

GN, hopefully your uncle’s life can be returned to normal once he is diagnosed, and is able to take action to regulate his blood glucose level.

Life Coach


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