One Great Thing — From Educator Nora Saul

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This editorial is by Nora Saul, M.S., R.D., C.D.E., Manager of Nutritional Services at Joslin

As an educator who has met with hundreds of patients over the years, I have a unique opportunity to have witnessed greatness in the making.  So I thought that for today’s topic, I would write about the great patient types I have known and the great things they do to keep on trucking.

Patients who are always positive.  I want to celebrate them.  The ones who come into my office and despite the fact that they are doing countless things to keep their diabetes in control are still eager for the next challenge.  They already are in good control, take their glucose readings four or more times a day, exercise and eat healthy and still ask, “what can I do to make my numbers even better?’  They take Symlin® even though it means taking an extra three injections a day.  They wear continuous glucose monitors and keep meticulous food and exercise records so they can identify hidden reasons for blood glucose fluctuations and they are willing to do more.  I marvel at their persistence and dedication.

Patients who won’t let diabetes run their lives.  The ones that take the hard road; choose careers in occupations, such as flying, that don’t make it easy on people with diabetes. Those who decide to run marathons or climb mountains or to become pastry chefs or restaurant critics where they run up against the limits of the disease or their personal boundaries and break them.  These patients exemplify indomitability

Patients who expand my world. They come to my office with samples and food labels of healthy and tasteful products they have tried and are always willing to share.  Or they bring in their smartphones sporting the latest diabetes apps or news reports and show me a new way of looking at the same old numbers.

Patients who ask why.   Those who keep me on my toes with incisive questions I can’t answer off the top of my head and have me scurrying to research journals for answers.   Or those who want to know the justifications behind the recommendations or broach lifestyle modification from a totally different perspective.  They make me look forward to seeing my tenth patient of the day.

Patients who are challenging. Those for whom there are no easy solutions, for whom life is so hard, who never get the good breaks, have many diabetes complications, and who can’t seem to follow the guidelines.  Many of these patients are depressed and can’t concentrate on making changes to their lifestyle, yet they make the effort to come to see me.   They make me remember how lucky I am and how much we and diabetes asks of our patients.

Patients who volunteer to help other patients.  Patients with long-standing diabetes who come to our programs for insight and end up freely offering their wisdom of what worked for them to newly diagnosed or struggling patients.

Patients who volunteer for research studies . The ones that give their time, bodies and commitments in the search for new treatments and a cure.

To the many great things you all do–En la lucha, venceramos! (In the fight, we will win!) Hats off!

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