In early November, I had the honor of speaking in front of the Utah Chapter of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. What a great group they are! Not least because the Utah Department of Health actually supports them by funding educational initiatives. I loved that they sought me out to speak about the DOC after one CDE on the planning committee noted: "Just thinking about my adult children that are 18, 20, 24 and 27, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other websites are a daily life experience for them. My son, who recently purchased a home, watched YouTube videos on changing a sink faucet, as well as changing an electrical socket. We as educators need to know the things that are out there, that are accurate, to direct our patients to." Go, internet-savvy educators!
One of the interesting folks I met through the Utah connection was Berit Bagley, who actually won a book giveaway we ran for the educators here at the 'Mine. Berit has a special perspective, as an adult diagnosed with type 1 at the outset of her career as nurse! She agreed to share her story and her outlook with us online:
A Guest Post by Berit Bagley
- My Motto: "The very things that hold you down are going to lift you up" — Timothy Mouse (Dumbo)
- RN for over 5 years.
- Graduate of Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA.
- Finishing my BSN at BYU-Idaho (as we speak).
- Credentials: RN, CEN/CPEN and studying for CDE!!
- Two beautiful children. Not married.
- Live in Highland, Utah.
- Work in Provo, Murray and American Fork at Intermountain Healthcare.
* * *
I was sitting in my nurse residency program listening to a lecture about diabetes. I remember the lecture vividly. I even managed to raise my hand and voice my concerns of "insulin coverage" for snacks after having just given "Lantus." The instructor smiled and basically handed me my naive understanding of diabetes on platter. I was so dumb.
After nurse residency, I decided to devote myself to the Emergency Department. This is what I truly loved. Emergency nursing is challenging, exciting, rapidly changing and a perfect fit for a healthy young healthcare worker like me. But that all changed on October 28th, 2008.
My new accessory had become the all-too-familiar water bottle. My runs had started becoming shorter and shorter, and I was allowing myself to walk them more and more. I justified all this because I was only thirsty at night and drinking my children's juice boxes was totally acceptable.
Here I am, an Emergency Room nurse, and I am ignoring the symptoms of diabetes.
I finally borrowed a friend's meter after a Halloween party and was shocked that it read "HIGH." I called the ER (since I work there) and said, "Hey it's Berit... I need a room." I arrived 20 minutes later and my friend Julie got out the huge hospital meter. It also read "HIGH." I started crying. 732mg/dl was my number that night. Since I was not in DKA and I am a nurse, they did not admit me. They gave me IV insulin, fluids and insulin pens. I remember the specialist they called in asked for someone to get me 15 grams of carbohydrates and not one nurse knew what would be 15 grams.
I went home around 3am wondering, "Will I end up like everyone I take care of in the ER with diabetes?" The next day, I called the diabetes clinic attached to the hospital, explaining I was diagnosed the night before. I hoped to God that the diabetes nurse who had spoke at my lecture years before would not remember the ignorant floor nurse. I spent the next week learning how to live. Overwhelmed, sad, angry, scared, lost. That pretty much summed me up.
Although I had a great crash course in diabetes, I really had no clue. I was meticulous in my testing (too much if you ask me). I over-corrected at first and dropped low very often the entire first year. The night shift at the hospital was interesting on injections and my glucose was all over the place, mostly low. Last May, I took a job in diabetes education and am currently working towards taking my CDE exam (I will be eligible in June 2012). I am no longer "lost." I am privileged to work with the people who have raised me from ignorant floor nurse to naive emergency room nurse to baby diabetes educator. Everyday is challenging, rapidly changing and the perfect fit.
Every year I write a Top Ten List of life as an educator with diabetes. Here is a mashup of some of my favorites from the past three years:
- Even the best nurses can't carb count.
- Getting tubing caught on a door handle hurts.
- Don't be defined by your A1C!
- Not feeling sorry for myself and continuing to learn how to take care of myself is a MUST.
- Occasionally my blood sugar will be higher than the ER patient I'm treating for hyperglycemia.
- Sensors still drive me insane.
- Occasional "deleting" of my OWN basal rates will and can happen while helping patients over the phone.
- When training on a Medtronic Minimed pump, NEVER adjust a temp basal pattern without a double-check.
- There are people who check blood sugar more often than me.
- Not all dieticians, nurse educators or providers work or think the same.
Great insights from the "inside" of healthcare, Berit, thank you. It's great to know there are fellow PWDs (not naive about diabetes!) out there treating patients.