It won’t be long until these students far surpass me in their knowledge of the human body and medicine in general. However, it is always fun for me to get a chance to coach our future doctors when I can still give them new insight. I had the recent privilege to speak to students attending A.T. Still University in Mesa, Arizona. I hope that some of my knowledge of diabetes rubs off on them. I more importantly hope that the emotional side of the doctor-patient relationship is tweaked and strengthened with more real life scenario understanding.
I was asked to come into this class and tell them about my personal story of life with diabetes and show them as many new gadgets that the world of diabetes can offer at the current time. This was also a time for these students to come to a lunch without eating anything (fasting) and check their blood glucose values. I am thankful to the students for taking the time to see this side of life with diabetes.
This is also a time that I am thankful to all of the pharm/area reps and products that I am given to share with my clients. I am also thankful to all of my clients and diabetic friends that share their stories of doctor-patient relationships that they have had over the years.
This is a great opportunity for a physician to see an entire table spread out with all of the necessary supplies that we must live with. I spread out on a table all of it: testing strips, various meters, various lancets, glucose tablets, Glucose powders and gels, as many insulin pumps as I can find and all of the accessories that go with it. As many of you can imagine, the amount of tubing, reservoirs, adhesive tape, alcohol swabs, insertion devices and Sharps containers can be intimidating. I then put out the carbohydrate counting books, BG (Blood Glucose) record keeping books and logs, I spread out the CGM devices and the pump belt clips, bags and sports cases. I then try to show them how frustrating it can be to wear with various clothing, depending on the outfit that I am wearing.This is all in the background as I speak.
I get to tell them about my childhood with diabetes, the shock, the devastation, the bad and then the wonderful physicians that I have had over the years. I get to tell them how I feel about the scare tactics that I have heard, the compassion that means a great deal to me and a doctor that treats me like a person rather than a 15-20 minute time to stand and look through pages in my chart. The faces of these students are amazing to watch. They realize that many of us care deeply about our health. It is more involved than just diet and medication. Life with diabetes touches all aspects of our life. For those of you that do not like to be defined by diabetes, I understand. However over the years, I have wished that my doctor would discuss more than just my A1C with me.
This disease affects my emotions and hormone levels in all parts of my life. This disease affects my health, my longevity, my self confidence, my bank account, my relationships and my work. This disease can make me worry. More importantly, I also want to make this disease as small a part of me as possible! I do not want to be “A Diabetic”. I want to be a mother, a coach, a teacher, a wife, a daughter, a good steward and so many other definitions in this world!
My doctor needs to realize all of these facts. These future doctors need to realize how this disease really impacts a person. We are not a summation of our A1C lab reports. I love getting to make this disease real. They get to see a healthy, vibrant and energetic person with diabetes being passionate about my health and the future of my life with this disease. I am respectful of their education and their responsibilities as a physician. They in turn, learn to respect me as a person, a person with diabetes and a patient that is striving for more than a typical quarterly appointment. I want a relationship with these doctors. As physicians, they have worked hard for their knowledge and respect. As I diabetic, so have I.
I thank you students and faculty at A.T. Still University for a rare opportunity! Best of luck with your future careers.