Sugar Matters
January 29, 2010

Deadly sin #5: Willful ignorance

There are some who might confuse last week’s deadly sin, stubbornness, with this week’s sin, willful ignorance. In fact I think they are quite different. Notice, this week’s sin is WILLFUL ignorance, not just ignorance. Not knowing about something, because of not being able to access the information, is a different situation from what I am describing here.{{more}}

But back to our sin-of-the-week: WILLFUL ignorance, in my opinion, is a situation where someone who CAN have access to information CHOOSES to ignore that and continue on blissfully ignorant. I have noticed this technique in various aspects of health: if I don’t get my blood tested then I won’t know if I have diabetes or not; if I don’t get my prostate checked I won’t know if I have prostate cancer; if I don’t go to my doctor/nurse I won’t know my blood pressure problems etc.

Within this purposeful ignoring of information, there is another level where you COULD ask questions but you don’t, and use that as an excuse for not doing something in particular. I had one patient who never asked me any questions about how to use her insulin pen. Before she left clinic I asked if she had any questions, and she said no. At her follow up visit, she admitted she had not started using the insulin pen. Why? I asked. She didn’t know how to use the pen, she replied. I asked her, amazed, “Why didn’t you ask me how to show you? I asked you if you had questions about anything and you said no.” She looked away, and I knew she had simply decided not to inform herself about how to use the insulin pen as an excuse not to use it. Another example (is this you?): patients have what MAY OR MAY NOT be a side effect of a medication so they stop taking whatever it is they are supposed to be taking. Do they contact their doctor or nurse? NO. Months later they show up having not taken any medication for months. And I ask always, “Why didn’t you call us and ask if that was a side effect, and if we could exchange the medication for another?” And many times I get blank and guilty looks, so I know these folks had no intention of taking medication and were happy to find an excuse not to, AND had no intention of finding out information about it or an alternative.

I don’t need to tell you that this approach is backward, and by doing it you are being BACKWARD ON PURPOSE. Can you think of anything worse? In a day when you are expected to ask questions in clinic, when you could have access to information from the TV, the Internet, newspapers and magazines, when many people live next to someone who is either in the medical field or someone more knowledgeable about it than he/she; you STILL want to pretend that by not knowing something it makes it go away

If this is a habit for you, please stop it. Ignorance does not make a disease go away, it only gives it more time to do damage while you are fooling yourself. Think about the ways you sabotage your own healthcare.

So that rounds up our 5 deadly sins for diabetics. Please try to keep them out of your life!

Until next week, stay safe and healthy Vincies!

Anita Ramsetty, MD
Medical Director Endocrine Care Group
Tel: 843-798-4227