Thought for the Day

Friday, June 19, 2009

When to Educate

I picked up some test strips from the pharmacy today, and had a brief conversation with the pharmacist that I don't think I handled well.
She expressed some surprise at how many strips I was getting, and actually asked me, "Do you really test 10 or 12 times per day?"
At the time, I wasn't insulted. She didn't ask in an accusatory way. But looking back, when someone asks that in that context, it implies you're scamming the insurance for more than you need.
I just answered, "Yes, I really do." So she asked, "Does your blood sugar really fluctuate that often?"
I smiled, thinking, "You have no idea what this is like..." but all I said was "Yes, it does."
She made a couple other statements about how "strange" it was that my blood sugar should "fluctuate that much," but I just smiled and left.
As I was leaving, though, I thought I really should have set her straight on a few things. It is not "strange" for someone on insulin to be checking that often. If you think about testing only before and after three meals and one snack, that gets you up to 8 tests per day. If you test before and after exercise, and you exercise once per day, that's ten.
And don't get me started on the fluctuating blood sugars.
Yet here is a pharmacist, a person in a position to offer me consultations on my prescriptions, who has absolutely no idea what life is like for type 1 diabetics, saying things like that. Sure, it doesn't affect someone who's been diabetic for 35 years, but someone else might actually believe her. She's in a position of authority. Some newly diagnosed diabetic might think, "Oh, maybe I don't need to check my blood sugar so often." or "Maybe there's something wrong with me because I don't always predict the perfect dosage for every meal I eat."
I should have tried to educate her, I suppose.
Then there was a woman a couple of weeks ago who, upon finding out I was diabetic, told me of a diabetic child she knew who had a "very severe case." She knew this because he was always testing his blood sugar and taking insulin. To me it just sounded like living with diabetes, but I didn't correct her either.
One of the reasons I'm training for Ironman is supposed to be to change people's ideas about diabetes. I need to do that more in my personal life.
I think I had given up on educating people. So many think they already know it all, and whatever you say to them, they misinterpret to confirm what they already believed, or it goes in one ear and out the other.
But I really should continue to try. It matters.


Chow and Chatter said...

good post Jerry you should write a book, in your email you wrote, my friends and i say you shouldn't stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing that has really stuck with me Rebecca

Mike Fraser said...

The hardest thing for me sometimes is to know when that oppotunity has presented itself. Sometimes I'll catch it even just a few minutes later and go back to relay what I think needs to be expressed. Other times what needs to be said will hit me like 30 minutes later. Catching those golden opportunities is hard, continuing to take advantage of them even though in your head you think it's fruitless anymore, is even harder.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Great post Jerry. Those statements from her may have left many people feeling even more strange and alienated. We don't need anymore of that!

Anne said...

when I was first diagnosed in '88, I would check a lot more often than recommended, and I always was under the impression that it was because I was bad at managing my diabetes. I lived under this assumption until not too long ago.

Ironbolus said...

At least she wasn't super casual about telling you they were out of insulin - that experience was one of my favorite.

Jen said...

Jerry, I laughed out loud when you said "And don't get me started on the fluctuating blood sugars". That is so funny and true! Most people talk out of ignorance, I take a deep breath explain and depending on their response explain more. We can't ever stop educating others or ourselves.