Each person who attends a physician visit or educational session to learn about diabetes management comes in with a different set of learning skills, styles, as well as their ability to accept and make quick changes in behavior. Many times, we as health care professionals tend to forget this and forge ahead with tons of information quickly and in a matter of fact way.
The appointment may begin with the initial news about recent blood work numbers followed by the professional firing off of multiple lists. Lists of things to change along with lists of things to do, suddenly all added to your daily life. Remember, you already had a full life with little time to add anything else to your over-committed existing day. Included now may be: testing your blood sugar 2-4 times a day, taking 3 more pills to cover your blood pressure, monitoring your cholesterol and your blood sugar, testing your blood pressure, not eating any sugar, exercising & counting carbohydrates, etc. This is just the beginning of all the new demands placed upon you. At this point, all you can think about is how overwhelmed and annoyed you may be and miss much of the information during the initial interaction. Patients often say “I do not get it, there are people heavier than me and they do not have diabetes or I do not know how or why I got this.” They are not even coming to terms with the disease, yet all these demands are being blasted at them at once. What usually happens is nothing or no change occurs. The best way to benefit from all this acquired knowledge being thrown at you is to work out a long term plan – slowly and gradually – between you and the professional (I can hear you all laughing since you get about 15 minutes to a visit unless you go to a diabetes management program and you actually get more face time). Eventually you will be able to think about the following:
- Pick 1-2 goals. Pick the ones that have the biggest impact in the shortest time. This will lead to more confidence for you and the provider.
- The goals have to be important to you, the patient, since you are the one completing them. First pick the ones that matter to you the most.
- Make them accurate, precise, personal and measurable. Make it self-directed.
- Build a relationship between you and the professional so there is some trust involved.
- Make sure the professional knows how you learn (verbal/visual). How much do you really understand? Sometimes professionals get too wordy and do not realize what information you are missing. Ask and ask again, if there is a question.
- The end result of the changes should be to achieve a long, healthy life and feel as good as possible.
- Give yourself a time frame and limit so you do not go on too long without any positive changes.
- Conquer a target. If a target is not met, reevaluate why not – as a team. Do not go at it alone.
- Keep checking, keep trying and focus on how change can make you feel better, stronger or healthier.
- Remember, these are your goals and you are the one who has to achieve them, not the provider.
These questions and concerns may not apply to you directly but you should always be consulting with your physician and searching for reliable answers to any of your specific ones. Knowledge today may help you tomorrow!
NOTE: Consult your Doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.
She is a member of the American Diabetes Association as well as the South Florida Association of Diabetes Educators. She worked with the education department of NBMC to help educate the hospital's in-patient nurses about diabetes. She practices a healthy lifestyle and has worked as a personal fitness trainer in the past.
She was one of the initiators of the North Broward Diabetes Center (NBMC) which started in 1990 and was one of the first American Diabetes Association (ADA) certified programs in Broward County, Florida for nearly two decades. Robbie has educated patients to care for themselves and has counseled them on healthy eating, heart disease, high lipids, use of glucometers, insulin and many other aspects of diabetes care. The NBMC Diabetes Center received the Valor Award from the American Diabetes Center for excellent care to their patients. Robbie has volunteered over the years as leader of many diabetes support groups.