As a healthcare provider without diabetes, I will never fully understand what it is like to live with diabetes. I do however try my best to understand the day-to-day challenges as best as I can. I have tested my own blood sugars, worn all the insulin pumps and CGM devices, taken saline injections, etc.; I also engage in the DOC. To try to encourage other healthcare providers to gain better perspective on diabetes, I worked with members of the DOC to set-up a fakebetes challenge. Whitney, a new nursing graduate, and Kim Vlasnik both volunteered to be first to take this challenge, and were paired together. In this fakebetes challenge, Kim text Whitney fake insulin doses, including a carb ratio and correction factor; and blood sugar readings from her own glucometer. Whitney was encouraged to check her own blood sugars and count carbohydrates, but take saline injections according to the blood sugars Kim had text text her (this way there would be some blood sugar readings in different ranges to think about and respond to). Whitney was able to ask Kim questions throughout the 1-week challenge. Below is Whitney’s take on her experience, you can find Kim’s here.
Why did you agree to the fakebetes challenge?
I chose to accept the fakebetes challenge because I felt this experience would help me to better come to understand diabetes on a different level. I feel that once you have actually done something yourself you can have greater understanding and sympathy for others. Being an RN I know I will come in contact with many patients that have diabetes. I felt like like taking this fakebetes challenge would allow me to be a more experienced RN to better help my patients.
I recently have had a couple friends and family members diagnosed with diabetes. This brings diabetes closer to home. Being in the medical field some of these family and friends have come to me at times to ask questions about their diabetes. I knew that this experience would overall be a positive experience.
What surprised you the most?
There were two things that really surprised me. First, I was surprised at how many carbs certain foods have. Prior to this experience I had never really paid attention to how many carbs certain foods had. A specific example would be a banana, I had no idea a medium sized banana has 20+ grams of carbs!
The second thing was how time consuming it was to check your sugars, prepare and give insulin injections, count carbs and plan out meals to eat a well balanced diet while trying to stick to a certain # of carbs for each snack or meal. While participating in this fakebetes challenge I was training for and running my first half marathon. While working with Kim V. I came to learn methods of what to do with diabetes while experiencing this rigorous type of exercise. I It took more time to closely monitor my sugars, but what a great way to see that being a diabetic doesn’t stop you from reaching and setting goals, especially physical goals.
What didn’t surprise you?
Working in healthcare I knew that checking sugars 6+ times a day would not exactly be my idea of fun. I don’t know of many people who love needles or getting poked. I am one of those people who don’t really enjoy getting poked, so this part of the challenge didn’t really come as a surprise. I do have to admit that by the end of the challenge I was used to poking myself and it became easier and easier to do so.
What did you think about the experience overall?
I really enjoyed this fakebetes challenge. I came to have greater sympathy for patients with diabetes and what they do to maintain their health. I felt for me diabetes was time consuming and I realized it would take time, patience and support to really adjust to this kind of lifestyle. This experience helped me to become more aware of those around me. I came to realize how this really affects all areas of your life, especially socially. How hard it would be to be a newly diagnosed diabetic and to check sugars, give insulin, etc when out it public. I am grateful I had this opportunity to experience and learn all that I did.
Would you recommend this type of experience to other healthcare providers? If so, Why?
Yes. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone that works in healthcare. I would also recommend an experience like this to any family members or close friends of a diabetic. This was a great valuable way to learn more about diabetes. I believe that hands on learning is one of the best ways to learn and this experience allowed for an opportunity excellent hands on opportunity.
Thank you both Kim and Whitney for agreeing to the fakebetes challenge! This is healthcare providers learning from patients at its finest. If you are a DOC member or healthcare provider interested in taking the fakebetes challenge, please feel free to contact me.