A day behind with Day 5 of Health Activists Writers Month Challenge.
(In my defense I did post yesterday and yesterday’s post was viewed more than any other post I’ve ever written – it just wasn’t my Day 5 post – Thank you to all who viewed the post and shared your thoughts – your support means so very much.)
Day 5 Challenge: “If I could do anything as a Health Activist…” Think big today! Money/time/physical limitations are no longer an issue. What is your biggest goal that is now possible? And/Or What’s your one, three, or five-year plan for your Health Activism?
If money and time were not issues I would work towards educating the world about Type 1 Diabetes. I would use either existing posters (International Diabetes Foundation has created one) and/or create new posters, flyers, videos about the early symptoms of Type 1 diabetes to distribute to all doctors offices (pediatric & general health care providers), school health offices and hospitals. I mean truck loads of them and I would hire folks to hang the posters so they didn’t sit rolled up in some back office where advertisements for over priced meds go).
The posters would include illustrations of children and adults doing the things that many parents and patients miss (or explain away) prior to diagnosis or after it is too late to save the child/person.
- excessive thirst
- excessive urination
- excessive hunger
- excessive sleepiness
- leg aches
- rapid heart rate
- mood swings
- weight loss
The posters will also identify myths about Type 1
- isn’t caused by too much sugar
- there is no cure
- one cannot grow out of it
- well-managed diabetes is the cause of absolutely nothing (Dr. William Polonsky)
- complications can happen and will happen with poorly managed diabetes
- a person with type 1 diabetes is always insulin dependent
- a person with T1 has to check blood sugar at least 4 times a day – yes it hurts
- a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes did not cause it to happen
- a person with T1 can do everything everyone else can do
The posters will also encourage newly diagnosed to seek support within their community and online. There is no reason (unless by choice) a pwd or parent of cwd should ever be left to feel alone.
While distributing the posters I would offer short classes to all health care providers about Type 1 diabetes. That seems weird right – I mean they are way more educated than I am – in a way that one would think they should know (medical school). Still I’ve heard of many health professionals missing the diagnoses Type 1 diabetes. I’d also educate school staff – I mean come on teachers spend more time with their students than parents spend with them during the school year. I mean actual clock hours not the quality of time.
I would ask that the posters hang in every exam room, hospital elevator, and school health office. I mean come on, how many times do we read the posters in those rooms while we wait for our HCPs? Visit after visit we read the same posters. The knowledge will sink in. Most people who read the posters will never need the information. BUT – the message will reach those that one day (some random Wednesday) will need it. Maybe it will reach the friend of a teen that has been showing the symptoms and the friend will mention it to their friend. Maybe it will reach the teacher who has a student that’s always leaving the classroom to use the bathroom. Maybe it will reach a grandmother who is keeping her grandchildren for the weekend.
Maybe It will save lives.
When I lived in Texas I volunteered with the Austin JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). I would visit elementary schools with a large cardboard picture of the Pink Panther and boxes of fundraising envelopes. I would meet with every grade level for about 45 minutes during their PE classes. During the presentation I would talk about what the JDRF is, what diabetes is, what types there are and what causes the different types, how the kids can stay healthy by eating right and exercising, how type 1 is not caused by poor choices, why pwd need insulin, how insulin is used in the body, what happens to a pwd if they don’t take insulin and that there is no cure. The last few minutes I would invite the kids to ask 10 people for a $1 to help fund a cure.
This was a very interactive presentation. I asked the kids questions, allowed them to give examples, maybe tell short stories, I had them get up and move around. If there was a child(ren) with diabetes in the school I would invite them to talk about it (I met with the child ahead of time so if they did not want to talk I did not single them out).
I believe I reached these kids. In fact I know I did because parents would tell me how much their child shared with them when they got home.
I haven’t been able to get that involved yet here in CA. I’m still unpacking my life. I hope to get the program moving in my area next school year.
Which brings me to my 1 year, 3 year, 5 year plans.
1 year – bring the JDRF kids walk program to the East Bay area of San Francisco
3 year – be invited to speak at conferences to adults and/or children about diabetes awareness, diabetes in school, diabetes and siblings, diabetes and peer pressure, diabetes and depression (in regards to parents of kids with diabetes). Any and all of these topics are ones that I am working on a plan for.
5 year – write a book – this is the scariest of all for me to think about (yes way more scary than talking in front of huge crowds – that’s easy for me). So many books have been written. Really wonderful, informative, funny, heart-warming books about all things diabetes. What on Earth would I have to share that hasn’t been shared already?
So basically give me money and time and I will make a poster – a priceless poster that can/has/will save lives.