Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Where has all the compassion gone?

Somehow, of course, diabetes always seems to come up. I'm not afraid to talk about it or to tell people I've got it. Because I do have it, it hasn't got me. Anyway, so naturally, somehow, the baby's sitter and I discussed my diabetes and she revealed that she is pre-diabetic. We talk about it every now and then.

Today, when I picked up the baby, I noticed a packet of information on her dining room table with Diabetes Diet something-or-other written on it. When I casually asked if "they" were changing her diet on her, she said no, this time it was her husband. I knew that he had lost a daughter to diabetes very suddenly when she was too young. Who knows if it was really diabetes, but the 25-year-old was diagnosed and within a very, very short time (like a month, maybe?) she had had a heart attack and died.

So we were discussing his diagnosis and what the doctors wanted him to do. He's a veteran and was therefore getting his care from the VA. Read into that what you will. I asked if they told him he was pre-diabetic. No, he said, but it's coming on, is what they told him. Hmmm... that sounds funky, but he was getting a little weirded out by all my questions. So, I asked if they were having him check his blood sugar. Yes, he said, once or twice a day, every other day. Huh? To me, that just didn't make any sense. I mean, how would you be able to tell any patterns? How would you really know what was going on if you only had a portion of the picture?

I asked what kind of literature he was given. Any books, I said? No, just the packet of information with such generalizations about what foods to avoid that it was going to be easy for anyone to get lost in it. I'll bring you a book I have, I told him. And to his wife (the sitter): I'll give you some of my recipes. Which brought up food. It wasn't the carbs they wanted him to stay away from, it was sugar, he said. Well, duh, but carbs turn into sugar, I told him. Clearly, he had no clue.

So I left there wondering what kind of information this poor guy had been given. And I wondered what kind of direction he had. It seemed like he had been sent on his merry way with a diagnosis (sort of), a blood glucose meter, and a packet of probably fairly useless information. Did he even know what his range was supposed to be? He did tell me that when they checked his sugar at his last appointment it was 135. What time of day, I asked. 4 p.m. When was the last time you ate? Noon. Hmmm...that's not so great. Wait, he said, I had a capuccino thing from the gas station before my appointment. Ok, that makes sense. But still, I got the sense that he didn't know if 135 was good or bad.

Not that I feel completely obligated to help, and I certainly don't want to stick my nose where it doesn't belong, but I just feel like maybe he could use some direction. So tonight I'm putting together some recipes for him. And I'll put a note together of where his numbers should be and urge him to test at least once a day, not every other day. I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong and barking up the wrong tree here, but it just seems that doctors have said to this man that diabetes is coming and instead of aggressively treating it so that it doesn't get too bad too fast, they're just saying let it come and we'll deal with the complications later.

Sometimes I wonder about what we're really doing with all this wonderful medical technology and information at our fingertips.


At 10:40 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

Another story that makes it so obvious that the state of US health insurance/Medicare is in critical condition.

Medicare usually doesn't cover more than 1 strip/day for type 2's not on insulin. Sad but true.

I wonder how much insurance costs would go down if there was more testing allowed and more education given to type 2's. But, alas, it's not happening.


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