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diabeEducating the Public on Diabetes Self-Management

Jul 17, 2019

by Suzanne Lohnes RN, MA, CDE, CPT

I applaud people for checking their blood sugar and taking insulin before their meals and feeling comfortable to do it in a public place. But we know that people with diabetes sometimes are not treated well by society and been made to feel that checking their blood sugar or injecting insulin is something they should do outside of others visual field. As educators we know that our clients are asked to do a lot to manage their diabetes for optimal results. 

From a personal perspective, I have experienced the uncomfortable feeling when it comes to managing my diabetes. I avoided wearing an insulin pump because I did not want anything attached to me that would draw attention to me. I remember being at an event when a family member yelled across a baseball field “Hey, what is that box attached to you? Is it a beeper?” At first, I wanted to crawl in a hole but then something stopped me, and I decided to educate him on pump therapy and how it was helping me to better manage my disease. I think this is an important take away that I have used when helping my clients deal with these issues. 


The more the general population knows about what it means to be a person with diabetes, the less people with diabetes will feel uncomfortable managing their disease in public.


Sentinel Scandal with Doreen ChristensenI have had several people from my practice share with me that they do not take insulin or check blood sugars when in public, which can lead to their blood sugars getting out of control. Such as at work or when out with friends, because they do not want the uncomfortable feeling that it brings. My clients often share their personal experiences because they are asking for advice on handling these situations. Most often this discomfort is due to the lack of diabetes knowledge of the people around them. I encourage them to educate their friends and family, if they feel comfortable enough to offer education to their friends and family. These friends and family can then act as support for the patient when they are out in public. 

The more the general population knows about what it means to be a person with diabetes, the less people with diabetes will feel uncomfortable managing their disease in public. I recently read about a journalist that made an insensitive comment about people managing their diabetes in public which angered many, but it may have been a blessing in disguise. Her very sincere published apology provided the kind of information that needs to get out to the general public. 


Suzanne Lohnes MA, RN, CDE, CPTAbout the Author

Suzanne Lohnes MA, RN, CDE, CPT works at University of California San Diego as an Inpatient Diabetes Educator and facilitates Shared Medical Appointments monthly with UCSD Endocrinology Clinic. Her primary role is to guide the inpatient diabetes management and provide diabetes education to patients and assist with their transition to the outpatient setting. In addition, she works with staff nurses and hospital multidisciplinary teams providing evidence based diabetes practices to improve system wide diabetes outcomes. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Texas Christian University and her Masters in Health Services Management from Webster University. Suzanne’s passion is advocating for persons with diabetes to make sure that they are provided the education and tools needed to successfully manage their disease and live a healthy life without complications. 

She is immediate past chair CACB, SD AADE LNG Coordinator, California CGM Access Coalition, TCOYD guest speaker and conference volunteer, Wellahoo Blog contributor, and Downtown Impact San Diego volunteer. 

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