Doctors have value only if patients listen
Further to your front-page headline in today’s Royal Gazette (March 26, 2018), you can lead horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.
This is my experience with a lot of diabetics in Bermuda. Advice can be given, but if the patient will not listen or want to take that advice, there is nothing anyone can do about it.
May I give you a few examples? A lady who had diabetes diagnosed by her GP came to my office and had early diabetic changes at the back of her eyes. I advised her to take care of her condition, and her reply was that she loved cooking and kept eating incorrectly.
I liaised with her GP, who said she did not take any notice of what he told her. At the next visit, the situation was not improving and there was another call to her GP.
After many visits, the GP said: “Tell her if she does not control the diabetes, she will go blind.”
Harsh words, which did not have the desired effect. At the last visit of this very nice lady, she could only just see the largest letter on the chart and an examination showed extensive bleeding and changes in the eyes.
She wanted a pair of glasses, and when I told her that nothing would improve her vision, she pleaded with me for help.
It was a very unpleasant situation when I had to tell her that she had not listened to me or her GP over a period of 15 years or more, I was not God and did not perform miracles.
The next one was a 14-year-old boy who must have weighed 250lbs and was a type 1 diabetic. He was not attending the diabetic clinic, which does an extremely good job advising on diet, lifestyles, exercise etc.
This young man was a couch potato and was eating constantly. He should have had a balanced diet and been exercising. I told his grandmother, who was with him, that unless he and the family started taking care of the situation, the chances were he could be blind by the age of 30. I do not know what happened to this young man.
Not all stories have such endings and, although it appears that my approach was uncaring, the only way to bring people to their senses is to use the shock treatment.
I was at the airport and talking to a taxi driver when he said: “I want to thank you.”
When I asked why, his response was that when he visited my office, I roughed him up and he was upset with me. Once he got home, he thought about our conversation and realised that he and he alone had control over his life.
This started with attending to his diet, exercising and getting regular checkups. When we were chatting, he said he felt better and had more energy.
There are so many more, I could write a book. The bottom line is that if one does not have regular checkups, a lot of conditions can be missed.
If there is a history of diabetes in the family, one should be more aware and careful, and if you do get a diagnosis of diabetes, you should be having more frequent visits to your GP and eye-care professional.
Your life is in your hands and you only get one life. Life is to be lived. Enjoy it while you can.
However, one must be responsible for one’s own actions; it is not Government’s responsibility.
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