My youngest has been complaining recently of intermittent pain in his feet. Both feet. Having two older kids I know about growing pains – also remember vividly the middle of the night howls of pain and calf massages. I can’t recall twin pain though – pain in both legs simultaneously. Also the pains for my two older kiddos nearly always came at night. Thus when Sugarboy began sharing his concerns about pain in his feet I became suspicious. My first suspicions were that he was trying to get out of chores or homework. But then he began complaining when he was doing something he wanted to be doing. Shortly after that he began complaining of the pain at night, in the morning, all day long.
Something is amiss. I put in calls to both his PHCP (primary health care provider) and his endocrinologist. BTW – for those not in the know – a possible (but more increasingly rare) complication of having diabetes for many many years is neuropathy, specifically and most often in the feet and lower legs. Thus, when a person with diabetes is feeling pain in feet or lower legs it isn’t something to be dismissed. Sugarboy is young, has had fairly decent ‘control’ over his diabetes and has ‘only’ had diabetes for just over 7 years – it would be extremely unlikely he would be developing any neuropathy. Still to be safe I did call the endo.
A nurse on his endo’s team called me back today. Of course the pain is gone today. While I’m not a fan of Murphy I do appreciate Sugarboy’s pain being gone (at least for now). Still the nurse and I chatted about the pain: when, where, for how long, type, etc. Also what activities he has been participating in, what types of floors we have in our home, how his sugars were at the time of the pain, etc. She didn’t feel it warranted a visit to the endo office but suggested I do take him to his PHCP to determine if he is experiencing any foot specific issues due to walking barefoot on hard floors or various activities he participates in.
Since that was sorted out I had asked if she could schedule appointments for all three kids in July. I had explained I was on hold for more than 35 min late last week trying to set up appointments and finally gave up. She apologized for the long delay then said how busy the clinics have been due to a much higher number of new patients over the last few months. Really? According to her, the number of new patients each month has been steadily rising for sometime and often the new patients are coming from ERs and even ICUs due to misdiagnosis or just missed symptoms.
So this is where I pipe up and get on my soap box about how if only all general health care providers had a poster to display in every exam room. I’ve said it before how valuable this simple tool would be. How many minutes do patients sit unattended in exam rooms – whether being seen for the sniffles, a hurt back, a well child visit, head pain or injury. Hours and hours are spent by patients in exam rooms. Most visits have absolutely nothing to do with diabetes. Still – while waiting don’t we all take a break from our phones to read various posters on the walls. One poster I have seen in nearly every pediatric exam room I’ve been in is the one with the child in a car seat that talks about current child safety seat requirements. In my general health care providers exam room there has always been a poster of how to do a breast exam and the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
My point – put a poster in every exam room that identifies the symptoms of early onset diabetes.
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
- Frequent headaches
- Blurred vision
- Excessive hunger
- Pain in legs
- Rapid heart rate
The poster should also share that Type 1 Diabetes can be developed at ANY age by any person and is not specific to any body type. Type 2 diabetes is generally developed in later years but both types share the same symptoms of early onset.
For the majority of folks who visit the exam room the information on the poster will be just words on a poster. BUT for some those words read out of boredom could save a life – maybe their own, maybe a child’s. Some little voice in the back of a parents head while they watch their toddler down his 4th glass of water in 5 minutes will say “remember that poster?”
The mom sitting with her pre-teen talking to the doctor about her daughters fatigue, irritability, nausea, and headaches will look past the doctor rambling on about a virus going around to read the words ‘excessive thirst’ and ‘excessive urination’ and will remember how thirsty her daughter was each day after school and how she has heard the toilet flush in the middle of the night more frequently – that mom she will say to the doctor “it couldn’t be something like diabetes, could it?” The doctor will initially begin to shrug it off but then something will click and he will offer the child a cup to fill. Moments later he will see the colors change on a chemical stick that indicate sugar in the urine or worse, ketones in the urine. Instead of being wrongly diagnosed with some obscure virus that pre-teen will be diagnosed early with Type 1 and misdiagnosis will be avoided.
Yes I chatted away with this nurse from my sons endo team and she listened and agreed and then said – you totally need to do this. Me? Do what? I can’t draw. I don’t have the resources.
So here is my request – if you are blogger – share a blog post about posters in exam rooms. If you are an influential blogger with connections to large groups like JDRF and ADA ask them to take action. For those that don’t blog – send a tweet, share a Facebook status, talk to your local JDRF office or ADA office – do something. If anyone has a witty twitter tag we could attach to this please suggest one. Id love to see this trending so some group that could put their stamp on the poster will pick it the cause. It wouldn’t be a costly project just some ink, paper and distribution however the lives it could save are priceless.
Sorry for the long intro regarding feet – it was just how the conversation started.
I am grateful to the nurse that stayed on the phone during all my soap boxing. Incidentally we also discussed various pumps, CGMs, lack of CGMs for those on medicare and how it came to be that I have 3 kids with diabetes.
Sometimes I am a bit chatty.