Olmsted Medical Center got such a good employee response to its first diabetes simulation that it has expanded the program and opened it to friends, co-workers and loved ones of area diabetics.
The simulation helps people without diabetes get a sense of what managing the disease is really like.
Participants must record how many carbohydrates they eat -- every time they eat -- for a week. They also note exercise, check blood sugar by pricking a finger four times a day and give themselves injections of fake insulin.
"I just really can feel for the people who have diabetes," said Judy Devorak, a nurse practitioner at OMC. Many of her patients have Type 1 diabetes, the kind typically diagnosed during childhood, or Type 2 diabetes, the type most get as adults.
People with diabetes must keep track of so many tasks, log so much information and pamper so many health-related issues that it can be tough to extricate diabetes from the act of living.
"One of the things that really hit home was how it just doesn't go away," Devorak said. "It's there all the time."
OMC employees who volunteer for the simulation, and now members of the general community, are secure in the knowledge that after a week they can go back to their normal lives.
But people with diabetes can never stop paying attention to a multitude of diabetes-related expectations, Devorak said.
"If you're really diabetic, this is something that's there, day-in and day-out, for the rest of your life," she said.
Endocrinologist Dr. Kalpana Muthusamy said it can be difficult for health providers and loved ones alike to understand why diabetes is difficult to keep under control.
Muthusamy began the OMC course because she took one during her educational experience at Mayo Clinic.
"I totally saw a different perspective of things. ... I think it just opens up a whole new aspect of understanding your diabetic patients," she said.
OMC now plans to offer the weeklong experience to members of the community every three months.
November sessions will be the third time at OMC and the first open to the general population. ___
I'm sorry but this really irritates me. I cannot believe that a Dr would say those things. Just because someone pokes themselves 6 or more times a day, and counts their carbs, doesn't mean they are even close to understanding what a diabetic goes through.... how EVERY DAY is a struggle to do normal things! They don't feel sick even though they did everything right..... they don't get blurry eyesight and unbearable headaches and thirst if their insulin was injected into scar tissue. They dont have to be at work and experience a really low sugar, and fight through the sweats, pain, numbness, headache, and weakness! Especially working in a place like me..... scrubbed into surgical cases.... life or death situations!! They don't have pain in their skin from over 60,000 shots!!! Not counting finger pokes... they don't get sick easy, and have a hard time fighting off what everyone else can. They don't get hospitalized for things the body should be able to fight off itself. They don't have all the risks associated with diabetes...... they just will never get it. This lady really pissed me off. Its not about eat good and exercise..... there's MORE TO THIS DISEASE THAN PEOPLE COULD EVER IMAGINE!! AND UNTIL YOU GO THROUGH THE ACTUAL DISEASE YOURSELF, don't open your mouth like you know more than I do. And don't judge people because they look fine!!!!
The problem is simulating is not the same. These people don't get to feel sick, tired, or awful for no reason! Even if tgd count their carbs and exercise. I'm so sick of people that don't live with the disease making statements about it. Or how it feels... or how easy it is. I've been T1 for 24 years.... and trust me its not that simple!
As a person with real diabetes for the last ten years, Type 1 diagnosed at age 48, I can honestly say it tough and I would rather have never contracted it. However, I am not a typical diabetic in that I am active, fit and have been for the last fifteen years. The catch I believe was the first 33 that I thought I was invincable. No one is, a flu virius or any illness can trigger an auto immune response and take you from invincable to Type 1 in a matter of weeks! I wonder if I had lived a bit more actively and fit in the earlier years if I could have saved my pancreas from the flu that my doctor said could have triggered my diabetes. Stay fit, stay active and do your best this is not a disease that kills quick, it's slow and progressive if left unattended. Stay on top of your diet and see your doctor regularly. It's the only way to be certain.