Caring For Your Diabetes Begins With Motivation
Yesterday, was one of the longest days of my life – I taught my parents how to Skype. "Yes, Dad, click the fluffy blue cloud to open the program." "Don't worry. It is supposed to make that funny ringing sound." "No, Mom, when I chat with you, I see the opposite of what you see; your picture is big and mine is in the tiny box at the bottom." Oy!
It's often hard to do something foreign and new. It took several hours, but we did it. What made it work was not my desire to have my parents learn to Skype, but their personal desire to learn. They wanted to connect with family members in a more intimate and meaningful way. To get the greatest benefit from something new or to even begin to care for your diabetes, you must want to do it. Unfortunately, self-motivation is a notion that is often ignored in today's health care arena.
A few months ago, a team of Dutch researchers reviewed several studies and concluded that home blood glucose monitoring provided no benefit to adults with type 2 diabetes who don't use insulin – I was stunned. The team instructed these people to run the tests, showed them how to interpret their results, and taught them ways to alter their behavior. But, few made any changes. I'm a diabetes educator and know that home glucose checks can truly enhance a person's quality of life. How could all these people test their blood, yet not use the results to improve their lives? I think they weren't personally motivated.
When is the last time a health care provider asked what you wanted to try? What you wanted to accomplish so you can take care of your diabetes? We sit in waiting areas for hours on end, but only get a few moments with our health care provider once we enter the exam room. If he or she takes a phone call during our visit, that cuts the time down even further. If your doctor doesn't know what your personal health goals are, he or she may ask you to do something that you find too challenging to do. Your doctor may push you to lose a few pounds, when you prefer to start a smoking cessation program first. Both are worthwhile goals, but the one you choose is the one you are more likely to meet.
What can we do to get members of our healthcare team to care more about what we want for ourselves? How can we get them to focus on what we want to do? Before you go to your next visit, think about what you want from the visit and how it can help you better take care of your diabetes. Let your health care providers know this as soon as they enter the exam room. If you have multiple issues, let them know which ones are foremost in your mind…which ones bother you the most and which ones you are ready to work on first. Your comments can help focus the limited time that you and your doctors have together on matters that are most meaningful to you. You can help make each medical conversation more worthwhile. I'd love to hear any additional suggestions you may have. If you can't reach me, try my parents – they can Skype.
NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
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Many people say that depression is a side effect or complication of diabetes. Without discounting the association of the psychological condition with the physical one, I'm not convinced that our high and/or unstable glucose levels are directly responsible for that change in our mental state. My belief is that the unrelenting need for self-care, for following the sort of care schedules that can drive licensed, professional caregivers crazy, is what overwhelms us...