Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Six Things I Want To Get Off My Chest

Today is D-Blog Day so I’m going to share my 6 things I want people to know about diabetes.

  1. Neither I nor my daughter did anything to cause her to develop type 1 diabetes.  It didn’t occur because she ate too much candy or was overweight.  It wasn’t  because I over-indulged during my pregnancy.  Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder caused by the immune system mistaking a person’s insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas for a foreign invader.  The immune system destroys the beta cells leaving a person without the ability to produce insulin.
  2. Without working beta cells a person either needs to inject insulin several times a day or infuse insulin via an insulin pump.  Without insulin a person will die a slow and miserable death.  Before Banting and Best made their miraculous discovery that is precisely what happened to people.  Their misery is documented in pictures.  I’ve seen the pictures.  It is most horrifying and deeply disturbing.
  3. People with diabetes constantly need to monitor their blood sugar and count carbs.  They must always be conscious of their activity and hormone levels and their overall physical condition to dose accordingly with insulin.
  4. Humans are poor substitutes for working beta cells and are constantly at risk of either overdosing or under dosing on insulin.  The immediate consequences can range from feeling unwell to seizures, unconsciousness, coma or death.  The long term consequences are kidney, heart and peripheral vascular disease, neuropathy and loss of vision to name just a few.
  5. My daughter Jenna is a remarkable little girl with a zest for life and a sense of humour beyond her years.  She deserves to live a long, full life filled with love and understanding.  I want Jenna to live in a world full of compassionate, educated people who won’t judge her out of ignorance.  In fact, I want that for both my girls regarding life in general.  Understanding and compassion come from being educated.  If you don’t understand something about diabetes or have questions I will gladly educate you.  Just ask.
  6. I too am guilty of being uninformed in the past regarding diabetes, even though I have a medical background.  I cringe every time I recall conducting physical assessments on diabetic patients and asking them if they were “well controlled”.  I’m surprised no one told me to go fly a kite, quite honestly.  Control of diabetes is fleeting and can change from moment to moment.  It is a constant battle with far too many variables to be a walk in the park.  It never ends.  If there is one thing I would tell health care professionals it’s to not judge a diabetic.  Don’t think that because you are a medical doctor or a nurse that you know all there is to know about this disease.  Odds are you don’t. This disease is harder than it looks to manage.  And even when you seem to be doing everything right it can still mess with you on so many levels.  And for goodness sake, don’t ask a type 1 diabetic if they are “well controlled”.  It’s just about the most ridiculous thing you could ask.  


Unknown said...

LOVE,LOVE,LOVE #5. Very well stated.

And, as a RN in the Surgical ICU...I frequently made the #6 mistake Sherry. I am ashamed to say...I would be giving report to another nurse and we would both shake our heads as we whispered..."noncompliant type 1" as we rattled of the history of a patient...UGH. I have eaten a whole lotta humble pie since then.

Great SIX girl!!!

Alexis Nicole said...

what a great post love!!

Lorraine of "This is Caleb..." said...

All true, though I think no one told you to fly a kite because even if it bothered them, I think we all know that not everyone can know all the ins and outs of D, even medical professionals, though when we deal with an endo that make such a reference, well, it may be time to get a new one.

Thanks for sharing. As always I love your insight.

Anonymous said...

Love your six things...I too have kept my mouth shut when I was at the hospital visiting my father in law and the RN on the floor asked ELLIE MY 4 YEAR OLD if she was going to grow out of her diabetes!? Thankfully Ellie was confused by the fact that she was talking to her and walked off! I about died and thought...holy cow, she's in charge?! LOLOLO I didn't say anything because really what did I know before she was diagnosed? Nada! ((hugs)) again, nice post!!!

Sherry said...

Thanks for your comments everyone! In my defence, I do need to clarify, I did know that type 1 diabetes isn’t something that one grows out of. I was just trained in such a way that promoted the misconception that a lot of the difficulty managing diabetes stemmed from patient noncompliance. Placing the blame on the diabetic seems to be the biggest misconception among health care professionals. It’s terribly unfair and highly inaccurate. It only adds to the psychological burden diabetics, both type 1 and type 2, experience. It needs to be addressed, really.

Kassie said...

lol, I love when nurses/medical technicians ask if I've checked my blood sugar today. I used to get annoyed but now I just rattle off the three or four numbers since waking up, and enjoy their befuddled looks :)

Melissa Lee said...

LOL. I see what you mean now with your comment on my blog about being "well controlled." :D I get that question so often. Don't beat yourself up for having asked it in the past. *laughs*

At the Texas DMV renewing my license one year, I had checked the box stating that, yes, I was a diabetic on insulin. The clerk seemed confused. She asked, "Are you well-controlled?" I had a line of people behind me and thought about launching into a diatribe...but instead I said, "Yes," and she crossed out my answer and checked "No." So that day I declared that the Texas DMV cured me of Type 1 Diabetes. :)