This month’s DSMA Blog Carnival topic asks the question:
What can diabetes educators/HCP learn from the DOC?
To begin with, they could learn that our lives are more than “How are your sugars today?” and “Have you been exercising?” and “Have you been doing okay with your diet?”. We lead real lives just like everyone else, and the DOC is a prime example of a group of people telling their real-life stories, with diabetes along for the ride.
Reading those stories can give healthcare professionals a reminder of what it’s like to live with a chronic illness every minute of every day. Let’s face it: diabetes educators, endocrinologists, nurses, phlebotomists, and office staff see so many people throughout each day and each career that it becomes easy to tune out everything that isn’t an A1c, or blood pressure, eye/foot exam, or any other clinical element. Getting a look at someone’s life via a blog or podcast can help them reintroduce the human element into their patient’s numbers.
Also, from this patient’s experience, I know that healthcare professionals can find out about the latest medical gadgetry from PWDs online. About six months ago, I asked my endo about a couple of new things that had recently hit the market. She hadn’t heard of them yet (this is totally understandable—she has many patients, not all of whom have diabetes), so I explained to her what I had read via a couple of DOC sites. A week later, she sent me an e-mail telling me she had read up on what I’d asked about and spoken with a couple of the local sales reps about the products. She also wanted to share my blog with other patients and with another HCP she works with. This wouldn’t have happened without the information being out there, and without my endo and I engaging in both online and offline dialogue.
The DOC isn’t there to get me prescriptions the doctor won’t prescribe, or to turn me on to voodoo cures (air quotes optional). But I do count on the DOC for:
Validation. I will always remember the first time I read about another PWD’s hypo experience, and the feeling I got when I realized I’m not alone on this D planet. Changed my life.
Empowerment. Stories from people just like us helps us decide that yes… we can take on that nasty low and come back strong from it. Yes… we can figure out that meal bolus, factoring in insulin on board + BG + carb count + exercise. Yes… we can have a job, a family, a life. Yes… we can do this.
Guidance. We all have those moments when we’re not sure about the next step. Getting real-time feedback via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. from those in the know (#makessenseifyouhavediabetes) is incredibly valuable, especially during non-office hours.
Most of all, I want my healthcare professionals to know (read: understand) that the DOC is part of my overall care team. The Diabetes Online Community is not a replacement for my healthcare professionals. But the DOC is just as important.
This post is my October entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetessocmed.com/2012/october-dsma-blog-carnival-2/