Sunday, October 16, 2011

A day (or week) for diabetics

When I was 10 or 12 or maybe a teenager, my dad was diagnosed with diabetes.  I never thought much of the disease-not because my dad didn't manage it or take it seriously, but because he managed it very well and never complained about it.  He took his blood sugars regularly, started measuring how much food he ate (literally using measuring cups to measure cereal and portions of other food).  He switched over to skim milk and pretty much stopped eating dessert all together.  He also started walking daily (religiously, actually, until the day my parents left on their mission).

In graduate school I get to have some very hands on experiences.  I have been in 2 different family practice clinics, a pediatric clinic, and an oncology clinic for rotations.  This past week I volunteered at the free clinic in Provo and saw patients under the supervision of one of my BYU instructors.  Additionally, as a nurse I have the hands on experiences every single day.  Chemotherapy, disgusting wounds, cardiac arrests, antibiotic drips, vomit and every other bodily fluid included in that "hands on" expereince I call my carreer. 

This week school and hands on/real life crossed paths once again. 

In the name of education, research and learning to have empathy for my diabetic patients, I am currently the participant of a research study conducted by my professor and get to wear an insulin pump for 7 days.  I prick my fingers 4 times each day to check my blood sugars.  I calculate the carbohydrates in the meals (and snacks) I eat.  I get to wear this pump on the side of my pants for 7 days. 

I changed the site yesterday on my stomach because it had been in place for 3 1/2 days.  The site hurt for 3 1/2 days straight and the tape was starting to cause and allergic reaction on my skin. 

Today it took me almost 2 hours at work to eat my lunch.  I squeezed in bites of food between dressing changes, transferring patients, tranfusing blood and administering medications to my patients.  Does that really work as a type 1 diabetic?  At work I generally graze....I eat some crackers here, a granola bar there and snack through out the entire shift.  There is no such thing as a 30 min lunch for nurses.  When exactly should I be programming insulin into the pump or checking my blood sugars when i'm not really eating a full breakfast or lunch?  Not to mention the fact that even though it takes literally 30 seconds to check my blood sugar at breakfast, lunch and dinner, I don't like having to interrupt my routine to stop and check it.  Oh and running with it is a nuisance.  And I haven't figured out a good way to discreetly wear the pump on me so I get asked frequently if I'm a diabetic.  All you type 1's out there--do you get asked this every day?!?!  

Dear diabetics--especially type 1's--I am impressed with your compliance to treatment (I cheated friday night and ate way too many carbs and cheated again Saturday when I took off the pump to go for a 4 mile run). 
Dear Dad-thanks for taking your diagnosis in stride.  I know you don't wear an insulin pump, but testing your blood sugar frequently and having to count carbs is a chore and takes some of the fun out of eating.  Thanks for taking it seriously enough that you're still alive today with good vision, good kidneys, a great cardiovascular system and an extra 20 healthy years to spend with your kids and grandkids. 

Ouch. Yes, that really is a needle on that end of that blue plastic.

Sarah and all of the supplies that will be part of my life as a "diabetic"

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