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As an RN of 30 years, who was once a diabetic educator, I found myself on the flip side of the coin. All I knew and had instructed others in how to do suddenly and precipitously left me when I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. I knew I was at risk due to my family’s genetic history. My great-grandmother and grandmother were insulin dependent, my mother was on oral medication, but I never suspected I was under the gun.
Read more: Diabetes Type 2 – How it Affects Me
I went to the MD with what I thought was a kidney stone, and the nurse practitionersaid, no stone sir, just a raging infection related to your diabetes! I was like … Diabetes? And walked out that day with antibiotics a booklet about counting carbs and metformin. Being an RN and my wife being an RN they assumed I knew what to do, how to eat, and as that jazz. Well, in a word – no. I came into nursing in the days where we still gave sliding scale insulin according to urine dipstick tests and put everyone on an ADA diet with no concentrated sweets. I knew nothing of carb counting, I had heard the term thrown around with some of my patients but had never researched any of it. When I was a Diabetic Educator in the 80’s that’s when home glucometers were first becoming popular and much of our groups were spent teaching people how to calibrate and use them.
Read more: A Wake-up Call
We spent much time teaching people how to eat properly on an ADA diet plan but I knew nothing of how to teach myself. I went home that day under the assumption that this can’t be that hard, was I ever wrong! I misread the booklet and thought I could only have 60 carbs per day, so I existed on green beans, meat, and cheese for the next 2 weeks. When I returned to my actual M.D. for a follow-up I was in tears, frustrated, scared but 10 pounds lighter! He asked me how I was doing and I unloaded. He’s known me since the beginning of my nursing career in 1986 so he was surprised I had no clue as to what I was doing. Plus, no one told me to be close to a bathroom when starting metformin!
He patiently took my fears in stride and told me with my family history I could treat this and explained a proper diet of carb counting in the proper daily amount for me. (It helps that he’s Type 2 as well. I left there no longer claiming to be a diabetic educator, but a diabetic under education. Fast forward 3 years post diagnosis and I’m now able to dance the diabetes dance with relative ease, heck, I even “call” the dance now. So know this, you are never too educated to learn more, and never, NEVER be afraid to ask for help. There’s no shame in needing education!