Today's prompt is Quotation Inspiration. Since the purpose of HAWMC is to write every day, and not to follow all of the prompts, you can read what I wrote when I tackled this prompt last year here.
Today I'm choosing to write about a topic that's been on my mind for a while now.
This year at school has been made up of the highest highs, and the lowest lows emotionally and blood sugarily (sugarily? sure, why not). When the program is in chaos I find myself thinking "I left the home I love so much, I left my parents, and I moved even farther away from my boyfriend, for THIS?!?" There have been more days when I've been ready to throw in the towel than I'd like to admit. But you deal with the feelings, you move on, and you get your butt to class the next day. But that's not what bothers me the most.
It bothers me that I can sum up the way my program and my mentors handle diabetes - both educationally, and in terms of having a few students who live with it - in one word.
I tweeted at length about what an incredible disaster the Diabetes lecture was last semester. Full of misinformation from an expert who didn't care to hear the input of people who are living - and thriving - with diabetes. Unfortunately my classmates have retained that garbage and taken it to heart.
Once a month, I have a pre-clinical meeting at Panera. When I walk up to the table with a multigrain bagel with peanut butter, eyebrows raise, and when I test my blood sugar afterwards everyone's trying to peek at my meter. At one meeting, a classmate had 1/8 of her cinnamon roll left over. She offered it to everyone. Everyone but me and said with a laugh "yeah it wouldn't be a good thing for you to eat that. You'd leave in a coma." My response was "actually, I can eat anything I want and joking about someone being in a coma isn't funny to me." When I showed up to the first meeting after getting hooked up to my beloved Dexcom, someone said "I KNEW all the bagels would make your diabetes worse!!"
A nurse I'm working with this semester has a massive sweet tooth. She always has goodies and every week, after she offers them around, she looks at me and says "well I'm not offering them to you because you can't have them. You need the diet sugar-free stuff." To which I say, repeatedly, "actually, a serving of [insert random candy here] won't kill me. And the diet or sugar free options have sugar alcohols and chemicals which send my blood sugar skyrocketing even more than natural sugar. I'll take natural over chemicals any day."
This last week I was pushed to my limit. My first clinical of the week had the usual exchange re: candy. In the second one, another student has diabetes and she and I have done a lot to help dispel the myths our classmates have about it. I thought we were doing a good job until I saw an extreme display of ignorance and judgment.
From our instructor.
My fellow PWD decided to treat herself with a cannoli at lunch time and she was finishing it in our post-clinical meeting. I joked with her about SWAG bolusing - which she'd never heard of - so I had to explain the term to her since, as you can probably tell, I'm rather fond of it. She laughed and went about eating her cannoli. Until the instructor spoke up and said she doesn't understand how the mindset shifted from "diabetics can't have sugar" to "eat whatever you want and give yourself insulin for it" and said "you're medicating yourself just to be able to eat. There should be limits on how many units of insulin you can take in a day just to cover your food."
My fellow classmate's eyes filled with tears and she stopped savoring her cannoli immediately. She was trying to finish the bite she had in her mouth but I could tell she was having trouble getting it down. So I spoke up and said "everything is fine in moderation. Just as it is for people without diabetes. It's not about deprivation, it's about having a relationship with food that's healthy. And that's an incredibly difficult thing to do when you have diabetes changing the way you look at food and having other people judge what you eat. If we don't judge other people's food choices they have no right to judge ours."
My classmate shot a weak smile my way, but our instructor persisted. All that was spewing out of her mouth was ignorance and in that moment I was afraid for the care that PWDs will get anywhere outside of our Endo's offices. We all know the comorbidities that exist amongst PWDs of all types, ages, and genders. When those comorbidities have us seeking care outside of an Endo's office, we're met with judgement and we're largely cared for from a place of misinformation. I'm not saying that these medical professionals are doing this on purpose - I truly believe they don't know any better but the fact of the matter is that as medical professionals they SHOULD know better. With the prevalence of diabetes they should make it their JOB to know better. And unfortunately most of them don't.
I usually try to be optimistic about such things, but seeing first hand the way future medical professionals are taught about diabetes makes me scared for the care that we all stand to receive in the future. So keep educating. Keep dispelling myths. And keep advocating because if our schools are teaching myths, then we're the only source left to provide facts.