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Diabetes Mellitus

I am a Registered Nurse with an extensive 20 year background in Emergency medicine and home health.  I have taught patients about many disease processes and health maintenance and improvement. 

At about 45 years old, I found at a routine MD appointment that I had developed Type 2 Diabetes.  I was offered an educational class for new Diabetics.  Initially, I declined.  What could someone teach me?  I am an experienced health educator!  I have nothing to learn.  I teach patients to check their glucose, administer insulin, to reduce stress, eat appropriately, monitor their skin and feet. 

About 2 months after my diagnosis, my insurance company called to inquire why I hadn’t taken advantage of the free class.  I explained I was an RN and I felt it would be a waste of time.  They encouraged me to at least attend a general class.  So, I went.  I attended an evening 2 hour class with other patients of varying ages and health statuses.  There were a lot of things I knew, however it was amazing to me all of the information that was news to me.  I had no idea that broccoli contains a small amount of carbohydrates and when paired with low fat proteins it actually boosts my metabolism and helps my body react normally to the abnormalities of Diabetes.  We looked at food labels and actually put together mock meals.  I learned so much in those short 2 hours that I ended up attending the full 6 classes.

 Additionally, I have taught patients for years that infection and stress cause Diabetes to become out of control.  However, I now realize this is my unique “red flag” to tell me something is wrong.  My sugars increasing when I have changed nothing, means I need to call for help and must obtain additional medications from my MD to manage my Diabetes during these times.  Something so small as the flu, a toothache, or even outside stressors like planning a wedding can cause me to go into a crisis.  I recently had knee surgery and the pain associated with the surgery sent me into a crisis and had I not called for help, I would have landed in the hospital.  It took me 5 days of very close attention to diet and medication to get back to safe levels. 

I have told all of this to help you understand.  I am a well educated, young, healthy woman who eats, sleeps and thinks medical.  I was, in 12 hours of classes, able to impact a huge change in my well being.  I learn quickly and I had a big head start being in the medical profession.  I have no other diagnoses.  It is for this reason that it is imperative that all patients receive extensive training with a new diagnosis of Diabetes.  Elderly patients who can’t easily get to classes or to their MD for on-going education (homebound) can require several months of monitoring and education to keep them out of the hospital and able to manage their disease well.  It is important for them to establish a relationship with an MD as well as a home health company so that when the disease exacerbates (worsens) they can continue education and monitoring during crises.