Monday, November 21, 2011

An Open Letter: Are we all listening?

Dear Diabetes Medical Professional:

I'm not here to tell you how to do your job. I haven't gone to school for years like you have. I haven't spent countless hours, days and nights pouring over medical text books. I haven't been bored to tears during the driest lecture (on diabetes) ever.  I haven't spent sleepless nights during the craziness of the full moon in the ER, trying to peer into the ears of a wiggly, screaming toddler with equally hysterical parents.

But let me tell you what I do know. I know that I am your patient. I know I have a disease that needs to be managed well, and that I could suffer through a host of complications that could rob me of my quality of life… or life itself.

Did you know it doesn't help me if you share scary stories with me? Did you know that it makes me anxious when you ask me what happened, pointing out the red-circled high blood sugar numbers in my log.

Because guess what? I have heard these stories over and over again. I've heard them from you, or other professionals like you. I've heard them from well-meaning family members, friends and colleagues who tell me about a grandmother, an aunt, or a friend who lost limbs, eyesight or even worse, a child who lost the battle in their sleep, before she even had a chance.

So you might wonder what I need from you? 

First and foremost, I need you to understand that I respect you bring medical and other valuable diabetes knowledge to the table. I also don't expect you to have all the answers.

In return, I expect that you will want to understand where I'm coming from. That when I come to you with a crappy A1C, or a concern about my wildly fluctuating BG numbers, or heaven forbid, one complication or another. I am not coming to you for admonishment, or to be asked for a rundown of what happened two Tuesdays ago, at 2:13 pm when I had a high BG number.

Just keep this in mind, can you tell me what you wore to work two Tuesdays ago? That's just one day out of 14. I test 8 times a day - that's more than 50 tests a week!

Please know that I have done my best at just getting through life. I have won some battles, and lost others. I will continue to work on things, to improve, and as I step out of your office, I will have the resolve to do better, and I will. My A1C may or may not accurately reflect this. But it doesn't mean that I haven't stopped trying.

All I ask is that you try to listen to me. Really listen. I promise that I'll try to listen to you as well. Really listen. If we both do this, it will form a strong backbone for our relationship. We can win this together - you as a Diabetes Medical Professional and me, as a Person With Diabetes.

Finally, please remember, that I am a person first.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Musings: Life is Short

On weekends I like to start the day with a little lot of coffee, a nice breakfast, and then sit down to read about what's been going on in the world. Then I set to browse through many posts by my blogger friends to see what I may have missed throughout the week. As I peruse this content, I often find inspirational, sad, comical and informative bits that I will share with you - and perhaps give you something to think about too.

This first week's submission of my Sunday Musings is a message that perhaps many of you have already seen, but perhaps not. If so, it doesn't hurt to revisit the message contained in it. If you've never seen it, hope you enjoy it.

Holstee Manifesto: Lifecycle Video

Holstee Manifesto: Typography Video
For those who love fonts and having things read to you with a great voiceover voice, click on the following link at YouTube:

Did You Know?  

Did you know that embedded YouTube videos are difficult, if not impossible, for blind people to navigate? I do try to make this site accessible to the blind and visually impaired, in part, so my biggest fan husband can also enjoy my blog without needing me to read it to him without a screen reader, which makes things seem rather, well, robotic.

(Irony alert: The paragraph above was not very screen reader friendly. The words "biggest fan" above were crossed out, which are replaced by the word "husband" - your screen readers likely missed that 'crossing out' thing!)

An easy thing that you can do to make your site more accessible is to provide a direct link to your videos to the YouTube site. 

For more information about how to make your blog more accessible, visit the American Federation of the Blind's article, "How to make your blog accessible to blind readers".

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lest We Forget

In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; wait and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead, short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands, we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields!

~ John McCrae 

In Canada and throughout the Commonwealth, Remembrance Day ceremonies offer veterans the opportunity to remember and salute fallen comrades, and all Canadians an occasion to reflect on the sacrifices made and the tragedies endured in their name.

Lest We Forget is what we say, for we shall not forget. For me, it reminds me of these fallen soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice - instead of staying home, safe with their families, attending to their daily lives, they fought in trenches, enduring pain and suffering that most of us can't even imagine. This day was set out so that we do not forget these fallen men and women who gave so selflessly. This day is for them. This post is for them.

The drawing above was done by my nephew Keith in 2002. He was only 10 years old at the time. It is clear that he "got" it. And I hope it serves to help us all "get" it too. 

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, physician and poet, served in WWI
in the Canadian Medical Corps and had been artillery veteran of the Boer War

"Lest We Forget" was published on 11-11-11 at 11:00:00 to honour those who gave their lives serving Canada's military

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Picture Story: Glucoaster* Show

(Not Quite) Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday bedtime
19.7 = 355 mg

Wednesday morning 2:00 am
1.6 = 129 mg

Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. (exerpt)
by Simon & Garfunkel

...My life seems unreal,
My crime an illusion,
A scene badly written
In which I must play...

~~~ Click here to listen

Wednesday morning 9:00 am
17.2 = 310 mg

The After Show

Chocolate Icing Detritus

More Detritus

 For those who subscribe to 11:11... 
I'm a little freaked out by this! I think my spirit was a little bit off last night

*Glucoaster: Unstable (roller coaster) blood glucose over a relatively short period of time, which is effectively shown by a graph on a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor), but because I do it 'old school', you are treated to this rather lengthy picture story

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Whiteboard Advocacy

Every little bit counts.

I thought I'd tackle advocacy on a very small scale at work. I mentioned before that I was armed with a whiteboard at work, and would share my messages, which I'd been doing.

Admittedly, it's been rather hit and miss, but I've been trying to share just something - counting down the days to World Diabetes Day, a myth buster fact or two, and most recently, the addition of info about the Big Blue Test, encouraging co-workers to participate.

My mini advocacy compaign, posing with my white board
(and obviously participating in Wearing Blue on Fridays and wearing my Blue Circle necklace
for Diabetes Awareness)

To be honest, I thought no one was listening. Co-workers would walk in and out of my office with nary a glance at my board, or so I thought. Until I was too busy to post a different fact for a few days (just doing the countdown).

Thomas:  So, aren't you doing it anymore?  
Me:  What? 
Thomas:  The diabetes thing on the whiteboard.  
Me:  You noticed?! (with a genuinely surprised tone)
Thomas:  Yes, and you haven't added anything new. My Dad has diabetes, you know.  
Me:  Oh, I didn't know and I didn't think anybody noticed it, but I'm glad you did. What kind of diabetes does your Dad have?  
Thomas:  I don't know. 

And so the conversation went, more or less. I continued asking him a few questions which were inspired by his, "I don't know"... like was he on insulin or meds (meds) and further educated him that it would be Type 2 diabetes, and so on and blahdeblahblah.

So Thomas learned something, and so did I. Thomas now had some insight into his father's condition, and I also had some insight into what my little whiteboard might be contributing to my work community.

If I can just help one person... another person... I've done my job, and this advocacy thing, as humble as it is, is worthwhile.

If one, two or even more can learn something about this disease, and the pervasiveness of it in our lives, in our loved ones lives, and the health and economic impacts of diabetes around the world, I've done my bit (for now anyway). All starting with my whiteboard.

Whiteboard advocacy may not be a big thing, but what I have learned:

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.
                                                                                                              ~William James

Wednesday, November 2, 2011