Posted by Pattie on 10/15/2007 01:08:00 PM

Diabetes [ahem] Education

So I tried going to a local hospital's diabetes program last week. I lasted 2 hours before I ran screaming from the room. Okay, I walked out quietly, but boy was I pissed. Here's my letter of complaint I sent to hospital via their website:

I attended last week's Diabetes Education session on Tuesday, October 9. I left after two hours and I will not be returning. Below are my reasons.

I do not want to be charged for this service as I am wholly unsatisfied with it. If I receive a bill for this service, I will dispute it.

First, when I arrived at the facility, there were no chairs without arms even though there were several people my size or larger who probably hurt a great deal squeezing into the smaller chairs. I cannot tolerate this as I have fibromyalgia and the arms hitting trigger points on my leg that would cause me to be in pain within 20 minutes of sitting down.

When I inquired with the Nurse Educator regarding getting a chair without arms, she looked shocked that I would make such an inquiry. When I stated that I thought it was a little strange that since diabetes is correlated with higher weight, they did not make an effort to accommodate larger bodies, she responded "We won't go there." She found a chair for me, but it had posts around the seat that were about as uncomfortable as the arms would have been.

Second, I stated to the Nurse Educator during the break that I didn't know of any family history of diabetes and she basically responded that I didn't know what I was talking about, that it could be that I had of lot of undiagnosed diabetes in my family. When I responded that my older relatives generally lived to be in their 80s and 90s and therefore I doubted that they were suffering from diabetes, she rolled her eyes and huffed off.

She also congratulated another patient on losing 48 pounds in less than 3 months, telling her she was healthier. I found out during the break that the reason the woman lost the weight was due to ovarian cancer and that she was going to be going into chemotherapy in a couple of weeks. I find it revealing that weight loss is celebrated without regard to the reasons for it.

Finally, the dietician began her talk with a long discussion about how she weighs herself several times a day and that she has to watch her weight because if she "weighed 300 pounds and tried to talk about nutrition no one would believe her." Since I was among several people in the room who weighed over 300 pounds, I found this comment particularly disturbing. I have a Ph.D. in medical sociology and I don't like being told that what I look like is more important than what I know. I also would rather take nutrition advice from a fat person that from someone who clearly has her own issues with food, body and weight. I believe that weighing oneself several times a day is a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

I am aware that what I eat affects my blood sugars. I am aware that having been newly diagnosed with this disease, I have a lot to learn. But I came to conclusion last week that I can learn a lot more from the Internet and my own research than I will ever learn from your staff. In fact, my guess is that to get healthy many of the people there will have to unlearn much of what they are being told.

My experience at your Diabetes Education program was that I would be paying for someone to insult me and make me feel bad about myself, and that I would be blamed for being ill.

I am too old and have lived too much to allow such insults. I certainly do not and will not pay for the insults.

What I find most distressing is that health care professionals who are work with a disease that is frequently found in larger people could be so insensitive to large patients.

I invite you to share the following article with your staff:

If you think I'm the only one who feels this way, you are mistaken. I may be the only one raises a complaint, but that does not mean others are not feeling the same feelings I am. I felt this way for years before I learned to speak out.

Consider that most larger folks will simply drop out of the program rather than tell you about their discomfort. Or worse yet, they will feel like it is all their fault and they will do little to self-care, because of the belief supported by your environment that they do not deserve good care unless they lose weight. If they do not lose weight, or lose weight too slowly, or lose weight and still have high BGs, they will most likely abandon good cared.

If you would like to hire me to provide sensitivity training, I will be happy to give you a quote. Barring some radical shift in your programs attitude toward your patients, I do not intend to step foot in your facility again.

Let me reiterate. I will not be attending any more sessions and I will not pay any bill for these sessions.

(BTW, I am aware that the language of the article I cited is a bit, well, unenlightened, but it is still one of the best articles I know that outlines the ways that medical professionals are insensitive to the needs and experience of larger people in medical settings.)