Last week I came across a great blog post by Lawren Romero in which she described her fakeabetes diagnosis. Lawren doesn’t have diabetes, but she wanted to better understand what it was like to have diabetes. She underwent a fakeabetes diagnosis, saw an endocrinologist and certified diabetes educator, began testing her blood sugar, and started taking fake insulin (saline). She had fakeabetes for 18 days, during this she experienced one week of shots, three pumps, a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), many glucose tests, and a lengthy hunt for fake insulin.
After reading this, I was reminded of research being conducted by Marilyn Guggliucci at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. Focused on aging, Dr. Guggliucci developed a program in which medical students live in nursing homes so they better understand what it is like to be an elderly nursing home resident. These students are given a medical diagnosis (or multiple diagnoses) and have to live their nursing home life accordingly. Some students have to use assistive devices such as a walker or wheelchair to get around. Some have a diagnosis of stroke, and will have their food thickened to allow for better swallowing. Others will require help showering and dressing due to physical limitations. This ongoing research has opened the eyes to many of the incoming health workforce.
What about diabetes? Do existing and new healthcare providers fully understand what it is like to have diabetes? When I underwent a similar experience as Lawren in 2007, I realized things you cannot fully understand until you have experienced them. I’m grateful I did this early in my diabetes specialty career, I feel like it has helped me become a better healthcare provider. I challenge any healthcare provider/student that cares for or will care individuals with diabetes to undergo a fakeabetes diagnosis. See what its like. I dare you!