July 12, 2012

Back to Diabetes Basics – Part 7

Medical Alert Jewelry

When I started this series, I did not realize that I would find so many topics that could be considered good basics, and I haven't even covered oral medications. Medical alert jewelry is something many people do not consider until it is too late. For many, this realization happens after they have their first episode of hypoglycemia. The police may become involved because of erratic driving and because people display symptoms very similar to a drunk driver, they are arrested and jailed without treatment.

Or, a family member discovers you on the floor passed out. They do the proper thing by calling 911, but forget to say you have type 2 diabetes and you are hooked up to an intravenous (IV) solution loaded with dextrose and this is continued when you arrive at the hospital. Now you are in hyperglycemia and nobody knows you have diabetes yet. Think of the damage that could have been prevented with medical alert jewelry.

If you think I am in favor of wearing a medical alert piece of jewelry, you are right. I have talked to the first responders in areas near my town and in my town, and they are trained to look for medical alert jewelry, and even tattoos in conspicuous places. They may not find some that are tattooed in private areas. I have written several blogs and while you may not agree with every thing I say, please consider wearing a medical alert piece of jewelry or a medical tattoo. The blogs are four and can be read here, here, here, and here.

Diabetes Management and Doctors

Here is where I normally get aggressive with the doctors, but this time I will try to cut them some slack. Diabetes management is primarily the responsibility of the patient and this is the focus for most of this discussion. Why? The doctors cannot live with you (unless you are married to the doctor), they see you less than one percent of the time in a year, and the rest of the time, you are generally on your own.

Now I know that you as the patient are not always supplied with all the information necessary to understand and manage your diabetes. Don't always blame the doctor, as there is only so much time available for an appointment. If you doctor gives you some information, this shows he/she is trying. He does have time constraints especially if he does not own the practice and works for another doctor or is employed by a hospital. Both can be so profit minded that they do not often allow for proper patient care. This is why other types of medical practice are finding openings and gaining acceptance rapidly.

So just who is stopping you from managing your diabetes? Is it family members? How I dislike saying yes, but family members can be the worst in preventing good diabetes management. Why would I say this about loving family members? Well, loving family members can be the least understanding and the most unwilling to learn about diabetes. They just want you to take a pill and return to the life you had with them before diabetes.

Many family members could care less about diabetes because you do not look sick and are doing the same things for them that you were doing before diabetes. Even your loving spouse can totally ignore diabetes and not want to learn about it. Why would I say these things? Because I read about this on many diabetes forums. Husbands or wives not supporting the spouse with diabetes.

Then the family members can be very irritating when they become the diabetes food police or the diabetes police. Asking you why you can still eat that piece of candy or cake when it is loaded with sugar. Even though you have allowed for this treat and compensated for it with what you have eaten, they will still not leave the subject alone. They don't understand that sugar is not the only thing you need to be careful of consuming.

They do not understand why you will not eat many foods and have very small servings of others. They start hearing horror from well meaning friends and translate this to fear about you developing the same problems. They become your worst nightmare as the diabetes police and some can become very belligerent in their actions.

Then there are those family members that will just not cooperate. You have gotten rid of the junk food and are working to convert everyone to more healthy foods and doing more cooking and serving more fresh foods. They insist on eating no differently than the past and won't accept the change like they won't accept that you have diabetes.

There are families that do support each other and do whatever they can do to make things easier. They know and accept the change in foods and understand that things are now different and they are benefiting as well by the changes being made. This makes for a much more loving family and home. If you are so blessed, do everything to keep this blessing and make it grow.

Now back to you! Yes, I am talking about the person with diabetes. No, I'm not going to give you a pass. We have all been through the stages of grief many people experience after receiving the diagnosis of diabetes. So get over the anger, put the denial behind you and make up your mind that you want to live and manage diabetes.

Learn that diabetes is not your fault. Could you have prevented it? Not likely. If doctors would have done screening on a regular basis, maybe, if they had paid attention to the results. The one chance you had may have passed. But if you are strong willed and decide, if you are medically able, to do the exercise and nutrition with enthusiasm, you may be capable to getting off medications for a period of time. This will depend on the damage already done to your pancreas. Some are able to stay off medications for decades while others only for a few years.

Many people do not comprehend that because diabetes is often different for each person, that they now have become their own science experiment. Testing can be very difficult as Medicare and most medical insurance companies are strictly limiting test strips that they will reimburse. Testing is necessary to determine how your body reacts to different foods. Testing is also necessary to give you a report on how you are managing diabetes. Numbers are just numbers if you don't make use of them.

Good luck and learn to manage your diabetes, deal with those around you, learn to make the best use of your doctor(s), and other resources.

Suggestions for Doctors

Yes, some doctors do accept suggestions. I hope that these make sense and will help them help patients with diabetes. I urge doctors to visit this page of the Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and at least give this as a handout to their patients with diabetes. Even family members could benefit if they are receptive. While this page has existed since September 27, 2011, their experts have not seen fit to add more websites to the list. Why? That I cannot answer, but I think they have decided to stop rather than promote more sites. Note: The above link no longer exists because AACE could not do what was necessary.

Certainly many doctors do use the Internet, and have their favorites for diabetes that they could add to this list. Some doctors do have contact with nutritionists and could have a handout for this as well. A very small number of doctors are making use of peer mentors in some locations to be mentors for certain aspects of diabetes, like proper hand washing and testing locations and even use of their meters. There may be other areas of use.

Series 7 of 12

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