In Sympathy

This has to be one of the saddest e-mails I’ve ever received:

Thought you might like to know that due to budget cuts in Michigan we are losing many state programs in Michigan helping diabetics.  The Eastern Michigan Diabetes Outreach office in Flint closed 9/30.  This office provided a lot of outreach and education to persons with diabetes and programs providing diabetes education.  Also they have a great website, www.diabetesinmichigan.org, that may also disappear.  At this site there are fabulous diabetes education materials that can be printed and nurse/dietician education modules that are free and excellent.  You might want to assess this situation and let MNA members know we may soon lose this service for ourselves and our patients.

When I first read this, my thoughts immediately turned to the front cover of the January/February 2009 issue of Michigan Nurse, which features a man giving himself an insulin shot. I had no end to the number of diabetes educators who called to tell me that the man was holding the needle improperly and that diabetics are taught not to inject at an angle. In complete honesty, as an insulin user I was never taught that so it never even occured to me there was a problem with the picture. But I do appreciate the people who called and e-mailed me. I learned a lot from that picture!

And, I’ve learned a lot from the physicians and nurses who have taken time to educate me in other ways. Diabetes is a complicated disease – you can’t take a daily pill and call it good. Education is a key component to managing blood sugar levels and understanding what you can and can’t do. And since diabetes can play havoc with numerous internal organs, it’s important to understand the dynamics involved. “Eat right and exercise” takes on a whole new meaning when you’re diabetic.

So, what exactly will  the diabetes education program become now that the budget cuts have been announced? A brochure in the wall rack at the doctor’s office? A Xeroxed sheet of paper? Or nothing at all? It’s not as if diabetes is a specialty disorder affecting a few people. It was the sixth leading cause of death for Michigan residents in 2006. We spent $6.5 billion on costs resulting from the treatment of diabetes in 2007. If we’re going to shut down the programs, who’s going to do the teaching? Or are we going to have to live with unchecked diabetes in Michigan, watching our numbers of diabetics go up and our costs skyrocket?

I feel extremely sad about the fate of the Eastern Michigan Diabetes Outreach office. I feel even worse for the people in Flint who have diabetes and relied on that office for support.

In the meantime, the link (http://www.diabetesinmichigan.org/) is still up as of this posting and you’re encouraged to use the site as much as possible. Don’t delay as we have no idea how long it will be up.

The “health care for everyone” plan keeps rolling along and yet . . . and yet . . . are we really gaining ground?

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