Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My hospitalization: MORE misinformation about diabetes

When I was checked into the emergency room with a diagnosis of new onset diabetes, I knew very little about diabetes. I was completely dependent on the hospital staff to educate me.

Which, as it turned out, was a complete mistake.

Here are the various misconceptions that were communicated to me by nurses, dieticians, and doctors:

* That they couldn't tell whether I was type 1 or type 2 diabetic until they completed my blood tests. I never found out about the mysterious blood test that would have determined which type of diabetes I had. However, from what I know now they should have been able to make an educated guess. Not only was I young and skinny, but my family also had a history of autoimmune diseases: My mom has hyperthyroid, or Graves' disease.

* That I would need to eat fewer carbohydrates, and more proteins and fats. This is the OLD way of treating type 1 diabetes. Since heart attack is a major concern among diabetics, the opposite is actually true. Plus, modern insulin allows diabetics to determine their doses by the amount of carbohydrates they are eating, closely mimicking the behavior of the pancreas.

* That I could reuse syringes and lancets numerous times. This misconception is actually kind of dangerous. Modern diabetic supplies have such tiny needles that the tips bend the first time they puncture the skin. After multiple uses, they start causing damage, and injections or finger-pricks become more painful.

I am always frustrated by how little the general public knows about diabetes, but it appalls me that medical staff were this misinformed — not to mention that they were trying to teach me this misinformation! In my next post, I'll also talk about how their misunderstandings of diabetes actually resulted in a lack of appropriate care for me.

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