Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Scaring Patients into Compliance

Has your doctor ever scared you into taking better care of yourself?

When diagnosed with diabetes patients are bombarded with all the complications that come with diabetes: heart disease, eye disease,  nerve damage, kidney disease, amputations ect. In the wake of diagnosis PWD can forget to listen when their doctor says that they can still live a long fulfilling life. After a while the scary complications can be forgotten or ignored since complications arise after long-term high blood glucose levels. At least, this is my experience/opinion.

When I was a teen and trying everything I could to gain my independence I just stopped taking care of myself. Of course, I did enough to keep me out of the hospital but testing was rare and I could careless about what I ate.

My parents tried everything: grounding me, showing up at a friend's house who was having a sleep-over when they saw I hadn't taken my tester (wow was that embarrassing!), yelling, trying to reason with me, everything. At one point the endocrinologist who diagnosed me talked to me about his cousin who had diabetes and lived in Columbia. He was on dialysis and begging me to take care of myself so I wouldn't end up like him. Finally at one point my parents took me to a psychologist who had experience with PWD.

I remember clearly the day the psychologist told me I was committing suicide because I was not taking care of myself. She threatened to commit me to a mental institution.

That did not go over well. To this day I wouldn't say I was trying to commit suicide but I do understand the frustration my parents and doctors felt with my non-compliance.

For a brief while the scare tactic worked but it did not last. Apparently, I am not alone in having scare tactics only work temporarily. Yesterday on there was an article about health threats and how they only scare the patient into compliance for a short amount of time. You can read the article here.
Forty-seven percent of doctors surveyed by Truth On Call said that patients' good intentions only last a matter of weeks after a dangerously high blood pressure reading.

47 percent! Truth-be-told this does not surprise me.  The thing about diabetes, at least for me, that can make the long list of devastating complication fade into the background is the fact that complications don't arise after one or two high blood sugars.
When I test and see a number in the upper 100s or 200s I don't think oh my eyes! my kidneys! but after days of highs I do think damn this isn't going to help stop the progression of my mild/moderate retinopathy.
This article was an interesting read and really made me think about how I approach diabetes complications. 
What about you? Did this article make you think? How do you think about complications in your diabetes care?

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