It is very difficult to follow the wisdom of Gandhi and “be the change you want to see in the world” if you have or care for someone who has Type 1 Diabetes. You can manage it, but changing your behavior or eating habits will obviously not cure it.
I am a strong believer that knowledge and information is empowering. Educating others about diabetes is one of the reasons I started this blog. If my rants can help even one person, then that would hopefully be a positive result of what I’m sharing.
Diabetes Education for Medical Staff
One of the things I would like to change, and that I am really passionate about, is the knowledge of medical staff about Type 1 Diabetes in relation to providing quality care. This was one of the topics I’ve discussed in the presentations I’ve given over the years.
We (my son and I) have experienced a few DKAs (diabetic ketoacidosis) over the last few years since his diagnosis. While hospitalization for DKA is never great, those experiences could have been better if the nursing and support staff, and in some cases doctors, better understood diabetes and how to manage a DKA.
How Diabetes Care Could Improve with Diabetes Education
For example, during one of my son’s DKAs I discovered the emergency room doctor on duty looking up how to manage DKA in a medical manual. This did not give me great confidence in the care he was receiving.
I am not saying that healthcare is all bad here in the Middle East. We have had good experiences. There are some good doctors. I’ve seen a great deal of effort put in to improving diabetes care. However, in a country where the rate of diabetes is one of the most prevalent on earth, I feel pretty passionately that medical staff should know more about diabetes care and management.
Diabetes Education is Needed Globally
I later learned that a lack of medical staff training in diabetes care was not limited to just the Middle East.
Last year we experienced a DKA and hospital visit in another country where healthcare is generally good. It was frustrating that the pediatrician on duty was desperately calling around the entire country to find anyone who could help her manage a DKA.
In the end we had her consult with our physician here in the Middle East and our physician in the US. It was not an easy thing to manage across three timezones.
Diabetes Education for Diabetes Caretakers
By the end of both of those incidents, I was driving my son’s healthcare. I have learned a lot and I am so thankful I have gained that knowledge.
But in the case of a person with diabetes or diabetes caretaker who has not worked in healthcare or does not have a medical background like I do, such extensive learning may not always be possible to take on.
The only way to ensure your safety and wellbeing (or that of the person with diabetes if you are a caretaker) is to arm yourself with information. Arm your medical support team with information. Once they are knowledgeable and confident, discuss how to best do what is needed to provide you with the best possible care.
Do not be afraid to ask questions. In my experience, we sometimes know more than we think. When we share what we know it can change things as well as possibly improve the outcomes and experience for the next person needing care.
If you are a medical professional or you manage a team of medical staff, please take training in diabetes care seriously. For an illness so prevalent, diabetes education and learning can save lives.
DKAs can happen anywhere, including while you are on vacation, away from your doctor and support team. The DiapointME guide to Traveling With Diabetes contains important information that can keep you safe and well while traveling.
Traveling With Diabetes
Get your guide to a safe and healthy vacation.