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Serving the Public: A Little Information Wouldn’t Hurt
July 31, 2007
I live on a one-lane dirt—no, make that mud—road with no sidewalk. No, I don’t live in the country; my house is well within city limits. And I kind of lied about the sidewalk: I do have one, but it’s in huge slabs tossed here and there with mounds of dirt. Or mud.
The city is working on my neighborhood. We don’t know what they’re doing or where and when they’ll be finished because the city’s Web site appears to be a bit outdated. I wrote the mayor a couple of weeks ago and told him this is the only place I know where you can live in the same house for 17 years and still not know how to get home.
While I used to like the fact that the neighborhood I live in is fairly self-contained, with no through streets and few outlets, I’m beginning to question that decision, because most of the aforementioned outlets appear to be blocked. That’s what I’ve been told, anyway. I haven’t been outside the house lately because the dust makes it difficult for me to breathe. Besides, I can’t get out of the driveway.
In addition to having Type 2 diabetes, I have asthma. Given a choice, I’d rather have diabetes. At least with diabetes, you can breathe.
They have some commonalities. For example, a person with either can benefit from knowledge. If I had known there were oral medicines to help control asthma, I might not have passed out one day in the midst of an asthma attack and landed on my nose on the floor. If I’d been taught early on about diabetes, my HbA1c level might not have gotten up to 17.4%.
Both have “triggers.” My grandson believes it won’t affect me if he uses hairspray behind closed doors. (Cough, gasp, wheeze.) My husband seems to think that a good hiding place for doughnuts is inside the cupboard where the dishes are kept. You know: The one I never open. HA! (Rustle, drool, chomp.)
There are hidden triggers, too. I can get on an airplane feeling perfectly fine, then something—the chemicals used for cleaning, perhaps?—sets my asthma off. Or I can go to a restaurant and think I know what’s in a dish only to check my blood glucose later and find out I didn’t have a clue.
But probably the main thing both conditions have in common is a lack of knowledge in the people who have them, which I suspect is true with any chronic condition.
I spent years kicking myself for not learning about diabetes when I was diagnosed. But when the doctor told me I had asthma, I didn’t think to educate myself about that, either. I put up with the coughing, the light-headedness from lack of oxygen, the feeling that I was going to pass out—and even passing out once—before learning that rescue inhalers weren’t the only treatment for asthma.
Ironically, I learned about oral medicines for asthma from a television commercial. In that same commercial, I learned that you need to see your doctor if you have to use a rescue inhaler more than twice a week. Heck, I was using one more than twice an hour!
Companies with diabetes-related products could learn from that and give you some useful information while promoting their products. It shouldn’t be difficult. Roche, for example, once showed that it was OK to check your blood glucose in public just by setting a commercial for one of its meters in a restaurant.
How about showing the difference in blood glucose values after two different lunches: one healthy and one not? The meter could be prominently displayed with no problem, so you’d have the product display plus you could impart some needed knowledge.
Take a meter along on a walk and show the blood glucose number before, maybe during, and after. Exercise is good for your blood glucose and the meter is easy to carry along.
A commercial for an insulin pen could show somebody blithely dialing up their dosage and giving an injection while continuing to engage in conversation.
In fact, I’d like to see a diabetes drug ad similar to the one for Vytorin (ezetimibe/simvastatin) that assures you that “cholesterol comes from two sources: food and family.” It might help erase a few stigmas about how Type 2 is “all your fault.”
It’s my guess that a lot more people watch commercials than would consciously seek out information about diabetes. After all, I’ve failed to investigate two chronic conditions, and writers are also researchers.
Besides, most people believe they know all about diabetes. If you don’t believe me, think about some of the comments you’ve heard from well-meaning people. Uh-huh. Told you so!
Using the general media—in all of its forms—to get vital information to the general public would be particularly ad-vantageous. Come on, companies: Let’s see what you can do.
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