Have you ever sat in a meeting hall and listened to a presentation and suddenly realized that the hypothetical person the speaker was talking about could very easily be YOU? Most of us have that sort of experience at some point or another. I had one of them during a session at AADE12 in Indianapolis a few weeks ago.
The session was titled “The Other 8 Hours: How Sleep Affects Achieving Glycemic Goals.”
As someone who doesn’t get a whole lot of sleep for various reasons, I was interested in hearing what the speaker had to say about the impact that a lack of sleep has on things. I mean, I know from experience what the impact can be, but I wanted to hear a medical professional’s point of view. As the speaker worked her way through the slides and made mention of overweight shift-workers who have obstructive sleep apnea, heart disease, diabetes, depression, etc…, I couldn’t help but think “Hey, that’s ME!”
As the speaker continued on to a section of slides on dealing with patients who fit that description, she made the statement that “We can’t just tell our patients to quit those jobs.” At that point, the wheels in my head were turning. I thought, “well no, people can’t quit those jobs because they have to have insurance to help pay for the supplies needed to survive!” As the presentation was wrapping up, I was busy jotting out my thoughts on the subject so that I could address it during the Q&A period at the end. And when it came time, I made my way to the microphone.
I introduced myself, gave the elevator version of my diagnosis story, then hit with my thought and question.
“Most of us living with diabetes and complications while working night shifts can’t afford to give up those jobs because of the insurance needed to pay for treatments. We feel trapped in these jobs because we fear being without that benefit. And even those with insurance struggle to pay for things. So my question is: What advice would you give to help patients to help them make the best of their situation and minimize the impact on their diabetes management?”
The response? “Just quit and find a new job.” Given that the speaker had previously said “we can’t just tell our patients to quit those jobs,” I was far less than thrilled with that answer, but I took it for what it was worth and returned to my seat.
The fact of the matter is there are millions of us stuck in similar situations because of insurance and per-existing conditions. We need sound advice and viable solutions. I’m sorry Doc, but quitting our job isn’t a viable solution.
If nothing else, the session provided me the opportunity to share my patient experience with those charged with caring for patients. Hopefully, my question got folks thinking about what can be done to help folks like me make the best of the difficult situation in which we find ourselves.
And if one other patient benefits from that, it will have been worth it.