This is “part two” of my recent visit with Dr. B and how it relates to my advocacy. I wrote here about my wishes for 2012; about what I’d like to see me doing in the diabetes world in my community. (I also spoke about this on DSMA Live ). Due to the fact that I received no support or education when I was diagnosed, I have a desire to do something to help educate PWD in my area. I was pleased to hear from Dr. B that she refers each and every one of her D patients to education classes that are offered at a nearby hospital. She also refers them to a dietician. These are both things in which I have never had the pleasure of participating. The sad news is that she told me that a large percentage of her patients never attend. I wish there was some way to make people understand how important this is, but we can’t make them take care of themselves. When asked what she does about that, Dr. B told me that she slowly coaches them at each appointment and does what she can to educate them; to help them help themselves. That’s good! (I’m so proud of my doctor. :-) She offered to refer me to a class, if I wanted, so I could see first-hand the type of information that is being disseminated to people with diabetes. I will definitely take her up on that in the near future.
We also discussed testing. I was anxious to hear her thoughts on T2’s and testing. I’ve heard too many stories about people who are unable to get more than 1 test strip per day or are even told, by their doctors, that they don’t need to test at all. ARRRRGHHHHH!!!!!! I have never used my insurance to pay for strips so I was curious to see what she thought about the whole “testing debate”. First off, she explained to me why insurance companies and Medicare are stingy with test strips: most people don’t do anything with the information they receive from testing more often. (Remember, there are many people out there who won’t even go to classes…). She told me that she felt patients like me are rare; patients who take an active part in their condition and try to learn all they can to control it. Sigh. This is one time that I’d rather not be “unique”. Therefore, why should the insurance companies pay for numerous test strips if the people aren’t using the information? I guess that makes sense. I asked her how many test strips per month she would “allow” me to have if I should choose to use my insurance. Her response really depressed me. “Given your great A1c I’m pretty sure that they wouldn’t allow you more than 1 test strip per day, if that.” Really? That’s crap, isn’t it? My reply was, “I wouldn’t have this great A1c if I didn’t test often.” She agreed, but it is what it is. As I left the clinic, I left a note for the manager to offer my assistance at the next health fair. I’ve offered to man a Diabetes information table and do whatever else I can to get some information into the people’s hands.
On Tuesday, I went to “town” for lunch with a friend and to run some errands. This happened to be Diabetes Awareness Day and there was a Diabetes Alert Day event at the Y that was sponsored by the local hospital, Northern Arizona University, the county health department and Native Americans for Community Action. I decided to pop in to see what’s happening around here. It was so cool! They had several tables set up with information and people to talk with. There were Diabetes educators, information from the county health dept., dieticians, food with recipes, foot checks, BMI calcs, eye exams and dentists. (All free). There was even a table for kids where they outlined a program at the hospital for children who are overweight and their families. The program teaches them about nutrition and exercise and how to cook healthy meals. Sweet!! I spoke with lots of great people and I left feeling relieved and rejuvenated with the knowledge that there are great programs available for those who want to improve their health. I also met this great lady who runs the Flagstaff Diabetes Support group. I gave her my contact info and am planning to attend her next meeting. She said that she regularly has 40-50 people participate! How cool to have a chance to meet so many other PWD. I spoke with Dr. B about starting a support group in my little town and she encouraged me. I found out from the Flagstaff woman that the group in my town is still in existence but they take a hiatus for the winter (?). In order to not step on any toes I am planning to contact the local person to see if I can help here at home.
I mentioned in my last post about how scary it is that the dieticians aren’t receptive to PWD eating lower carb diets but that there was hope. I spoke, at length, with one of the dieticians at this event and he told me that they are definitely shifting toward less starch and grain and pushing more non-starchy vegetables. I was pleased! There was even a hand-out titled “Recommended Diet for Diabetics May Need Changing, Study Suggests”. Wow, no foolin’. I was also happy to be a living, breathing example of someone who owns her D and is successful. (I think I impressed a few people. :-)
I could go on ad nauseum (maybe I already have??) about all that I’ve recently learned, but I have to stop somewhere. I am so excited about the things I learned and anticipate with relish the opportunities in front of me to do something positive in my community. This is almost more exciting than my improved glucose readings!