Blog | Friday, October 8, 2010

Diabetes lessons

As doctors, sometimes the biggest lessons that we learn about disease pathology are those that we learn from the people that have that disease. Diabetes is one such disease.

I recently gave a show-and-tell lecture about insulin pumps to the new interns and residents as well as the third-year medical students on their pediatric clerkship with the inpatient endocrine service. We discussed different types of pumps (point A on the picture) and they got to push the buttons and send a bolus or change a basal rate. They also looked at real-time continuous glucose monitors (CGM), (points C and D on the picture) sensors used to check glucoses levels every five minutes.

However, they were most interested in the insertion devices and gadgets that accompany the pumps and the sensors. Their eyes were wide open and their teeth gritting when they themselves thought about going through this torturous ritual of site insertions and changes every two to three days. As one of the nurse educators that I work with who has diabetes demonstrated his own pump site (point B on the picture) and CGM sensor, the students and young doctors were clearly impressed with the bravery that having diabetes forces you to have.

Looking at the multiple sites on the nurse's abdomen also reminded the students of how diabetes forces you to have a lack of vanity. Diabetes also forces you to have a lack of control over your body, which we all are destined to learn at different points in our life. Finally, diabetes takes a bit of your childhood away. No textbook can teach you that.

This post by Jennifer Shine Dyer, MD, MPH, appeared at Get Better Health, a network of popular health bloggers brought together by Val Jones, MD. Better Health's mission is to support and promote health care professional bloggers, provide insightful and trustworthy health commentary, and help to inform health policy makers about the provider point of view on health care reform, science, research and patient care.