Sugar Matters
March 19, 2013
Change comes slowly

Another successful mission has been completed! Our entire diabetes mission team returned to the United States this past weekend. Last week was a flurry of visits to clinics, planning and collaborating with our medical colleagues in St Vincent. In addition to planned visits to our prior clinic sites in Georgetown, Layou, Mespo and Bequia, we saw patients in Chateaubelair for the first time and held our second health fair.{{more}} One of our newest team members, Constance Brown-Riggs, a nationally recognized expert in diabetes nutrition, provided educational talks through media programmes, as well as a lecture at the hospital. We were able to provide age-appropriate resources for the children and families of those with Type 1 diabetes. All in all, a busy and fruitful week!

After four years of being blessed to be a part of this mission team, many of us have seen some changes occurring slowly, but in positive directions:

1) More people are aware of the better starches to eat. We had many people talk about eating wheat bread instead of white, trying to avoid rice, and increasing non-starchy vegetables. This is huge! A major step towards being able to better manage a life with diabetes is knowing the better things to eat.

2) More of you are willing to give yourselves your own insulin injections, especially in Bequia (yes, you in Bequia, great job). Taking control of how your medication is administered gives you a remarkable independence. If you are in need of help because of vision problems, or you are truly unable to hold and use a syringe, that is understandable. Outside of this, most individuals can easily learn the proper way to self-administer their own insulin.

3) We saw better overall knowledge and recollection of information we have shared in years past about the effects of diabetes on the body and overall health. I like to think that some of that also comes from reading this column too (smile).

We, of course, did see some areas that need improvement, like in any clinic around the world – there are always ways to further improve. Many people do not have their blood work done at the laboratory, despite their doctor asking them to do so. Many are still not quite clear on the proper portion of starches to eat, regardless of whether it is healthier starch or not. There is still difficulty in keeping up with eye examinations on a regular basis. And there are still TOO MANY PEOPLE WEARING GUNSLINGERS!!! Cost issues are significant for many people, and we understand that this will continue to be a barrier in some cases; however, we hope to help in any way that we can.

Thank you all for coming out to the clinics and health fair, for asking questions and hopefully considering and following our advice. All of you who were diagnosed with diabetes at the health fair: I hope you found your way to a doctor THAT DAY.

For those who were unable to make it this year, we will be back next year. Until next week, stay safe and healthy Vincies!

Anita Ramsetty, MD Roper Endocrinology

and RSFH Diabetes Center