On our second date my husband took me with him to help out at a program he volunteers for. Due to confidentiality I can’t get into specifics, but the program helps homeless families by housing them with the help of various churches. When out church’s turn comes up, and our schedules permit, we still volunteer there and last week was our turn. I met a man who had some very bad luck but was not bitter. Dinner was pizza followed by ice-cream sundaes. I excused myself and took extra insulin. As the sundaes were being made I heard the man ask if there was sugar-free ice cream so of course that caught my attention. I asked him a few questions and found out that he has Type 2 and we got to talking. I was horrified at how little he seemed to know about his disease. Now I will admit, I don’t know much about what medical advice he ahs gotten or even what the standard is for a person with Type 2 but it angered me that eating not sugar had been drilled into him so much that even when he wakes up, dizzy, clammy and weak he only has one piece of candy! He takes Lantus so I would have thought that he might have some education on how to treat a low. He was also under the impression that he could eat as much as he wanted as long as it wasn’t sugar. He knew nothing about reading labels or portions only that he should drink water or diet pop and not things like juice that have high sugar content.

I suggested that if he was feeling dizzy, clammy & weak when he woke that he should probably have more than one piece of candy & that he should tell his doctor this. I also encouraged him to ask doctor about seeing a dietician and in the meantime I gave him some suggestions for portion control (such as using you fist as a guide for a serving), to watch the fat content in foods he is eating and the basics of how to read a label. He wanted to know how long I had had diabetes and was impressed by how much I knew. I was thinking, it only seems like a lot compared to how little you know. I showed him my pump and explained how it worked. He was fascinated. I wanted to run home & gather up some of the oodles of information I have on diabetes and give it to him. I wish I could follow-up with him but the program is run in such a way that it isn’t really possible to do so.

It made me realize how lucky I am to have good health insurance and access to all the information I could possibly want on diabetes. This man was so eager learn anything he could from me about his diabetes. I was reluctant to offer too much information because I am not CDE, RN or DR, but IO was dumfounded that someone who appeared to me to be starving for information. Why did he not get this information from a healthcare provider and instead a chance encounter? Is it because he has poor insurance coverage? An under-educated physician, perhaps? Or simply our screwed up health care system in this country at work again? In my mind and from my very limited point of view it is inexcusable no matter the reason when nearly 16 million Americans have diabetes and most of those are Type 2.

It is hard enough to deal with this disease when you are armed with information and resources let alone when you have little information and few resources and it is so not fair. I only hope I helped him enough to get him pointed in the right direction.


Sandra Miller said...

Yes, it is sad that this man had to learn about his diabetes via a "chance encounter."

This issue angers me as well.

Sadly, I think that (outside endocrinology) there are MANY misconceptions in the medical field about both Type 1 and Type 2.

Melissa, it's wonderful that you took the time to help this man.

Anonymous said...

Bright Eyes ... thats why I love you so. You take the time to listen and to help in ways most people don't.

Anonymous said...

For you this is a "Rant", for me this is an example of what makes me proud to be your sister. Instead of hiding from "the 'Betes", you're ever an advocate and always willing to share what you know. It does really make one wonder, though, given the staggering numbers of people living with this disease, how so many can be so very ignorant of basic care for their condition. I have you to thank for what I know about diabetes, which is not monumental, but far exceeds that of most. Keep on doing what you do, little sister. You're amazing! nars